Your BFF or close friend should inspire, motivate and make you excited each time you hang out, but if you find yourself constantly putting her needs before your own and start dreading her company, you could be in a codependent relationship with a friend that can be described as toxic.
Codependency, while often used to describe romantic relationships, can apply to friendship too. It is defined in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling as an “unhealthy devotion to a relationship at the cost of one’s personal and psychological needs”.
In every codependent friendship, there is a “giver” and a “taker” dynamic. The “giver” enables the other, making it easy for the “taker” to be dependent and needy. It’s a one-sided relationship in terms of who gives the support.
Chances are, you are the “giver” in the friendship, thus the distress you’re feeling. You feel the need to respond to all her messages immediately and be available to help at all times, such that her needs and plans supersede your own.
The “taker” on the other hand “may feel hurt and upset when the “giver” is not there for them when they need it, or feels entitled or oblivious to their sacrifices for the friendship,” notes Psychology Today.
As the “giver”, start by setting boundaries so that you can still keep the friendship and start living your own life. Here are five typical scenarios in codependent friendships that you may have experienced, and ways to develop a healthier friendship.