"People are a hard habit to break." ~Rachel Brody
Friendships rarely die a quick, painless death. In cases where friends do not simply drift a part, the cycle usually goes something like this: fight, make up, fight, make up, find new friends, fight, make up, stop returning phone calls, and one day, pass one another in the street and keep walking like he or she was a stranger in the first place.
Some friendships can leave deeper scars than a romantic break-up. At the very worse, these terminated friendship can disintegrate into active, "enemy status," with limitless potential for personal or even professional damage.
Hindsight is almost always 20-20, but after reaching a point when I can count my true friends with one hand, I shall share some knowledge on certain types of friends to be avoided at all costs.
The Schizo: A friendship with this person starts out "hot and heavy" - meaning you click immediately and within two days, it's like you've been friends since birth. Suddenly, he or she falls off the face of the earth, deciding your comradery is no longer needed and reemerges a considerable time later, nuttier than you ever remember he or she being.
The Score Keeper: This is the type of friend always going out of his or her way for you - but not without a catch. Crying at 3 a.m.? He or she is waiting for your call! Need $100? The Score Keeper is your piggy bank! However, the second you do anything to cause this person distress, he or she will hold an everlasting grudge. You will be reminded of everything he or she has ever done for you every moment of every day until driven to the point of self-hatred.
The Ex: I don't care how mature you think you are. Your ex (unless you did nothing more than heavy petting) is never your friend.
The Plastic Doll: As the name implies, this person is a fake. At first, you might not like the Plastic Doll, but cannot figure out why, because everyone insists he or she is "sooo nice." In reality, the Plastic Doll needs everyone to like him or her, but respects and enjoys the company of few, if any, people.
The Alpha Male/Female: By virtue of an outgoing personality, money, or connections, this person is the "leader" of his or her clique. When the Alpha is in any way displeased with you, suddenly, the rest of your friends stop calling you or start giving you guilt trips for giving the Alpha grief. What makes ending this friendship hard is that it entails leaving a lot of people behind.
The Green-Eyed Monster: Envy is the name of the game. The Monster is envious of everything from your new shirt to your new car, incapable of experiencing the slightest pleasure for anyone other than itself. Whenever you hang out with this kind, you have to coddle its perpetually wounded ego. Only when you are down in the dumps, and it can therefore take comfort in your misery, can it be even remotely enjoyable as a companion.
The Sun King/Queen: The Green-Eyed Monster's polar opposite is the Sun King/Queen. The whole world revolves around him or her, and whenever he or she is given the slightest opportunity, he or she will go out of his or her way to remind you just how much better he or she is at doing everything. Even if you are not a competitive person, everything feels like a race, and you find yourself going out of your way just so the Sun King/Queen, can, for once, shut up!
The Jealous Husband: Either gender can be a jealous husband. This friend cannot bear the idea of you spending time with anyone besides him or her. No matter how much you try to get the Jealous Husband to interact with other people, he or she wants only you. Should you reject a night with him or her due to other plans, the Jealous Husband will treat you as if he or she were a newborn puppy you left out in the rain.
The Poor-Me: This person is excruciating to hang out with. After a mere five-minute conversation with the Poor-Me, you will want to slit your wrists. He or she is never happy, the whole world is against him or her, and they are always bogged down with too much work, too much stress, and too many problems, but refuses to take a proactive approach toward life.
The Bigmouth: Self-explanatory. Don't tell this person anything, unless you want even small children in a Cambodian village to find out.
The Octopus: You heard how so-and-so found the Octopus in bed with her boyfriend, but no, that won't happen to you. Yeah, right. The Octopus, by nature, has its hands everywhere, particularly on things (and people) not belonging to it. Though you may be willing, at first, to overlook the Octopus's questionable morals (because it is such a good time!) don't trust it as far as you can throw it, unless you don't mind when it runs off with your jewelry, lover and house pet.
Mr./Ms. Passive-Aggressive: This person will never tell you when he or she is upset with you. Instead, he or she might tell everyone else and hope you find out that way. Never openly mean, this person opts for emotional aloofness. Should you ever decide to confront him or her about anything, Mr./Ms. Passive-Aggressive will become extremely uncomfortable and in the case of the female type, burst into tears, when all you wanted to do was have an honest conversation.
Before concluding this week's installment of my column, I shall make a note that none of the above categories were directed at a particular person (I am, by no means, Ms. Passive-Aggressive). Aggressive, perhaps, but never passive. Everyone, at some point, (myself included) has taken on some of the traits of the people listed above, and with self-awareness, it's never too late to change.
There is no reason for anyone to waste his or her time with someone who does nothing but cause hurt, guilt, anger, or anxiety. As my father once said when I was a little girl, "It's better to be alone than in bad company."