Research conducted by author Brene Brown confirms what many of us feel instinctively: That we should keep our vulnerability for those who have earned our trust. These people will listen and show up with genuine support rather than judge.
In this social media–driven world, it’s the norm to share every detail of our lives. We depend on external validation when, truly, the only person who needs to validate who you are and what you do is you. Your story is yours, and you need to be mindful of who you allow into your inner world.
According to Brown, shame is the most psychologically detrimental experience any of us can endure — and shame usually stems from being vulnerable in unsafe emotional environments.
Peruse the friend types below and consider whether any of your friends fit into these categories. Once you choose to stop sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings with people like this, your confidence will grow and your insecurity will decrease. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?1. The Gossiper
No secret is safe with the gossiper. This person is not concerned with loyalty, and friends come in and out of her life as if through a revolving door.
- Spilling the secrets of mutual friends
- Only reaching out for information about major life events (yours or others)
- Maximize chitchat with the gossiper, and avoid emotional topics.
- Say you’re not comfortable talking about others, or quickly change the topic to avoid discussing details
2. The Contingently Happy Friend
The contingently happy friend is only happy for you when you appear to be the underdog.Key traits
- This person won’t be your cheerleader when things are going smoothly, but when you’re suffering, she is the first person rushing to your side to hear your sob story.
- She seems to be looking for a confidence boost, and may actually enjoy hearing about how badly your life is going.
- She suffers from an inferiority complex.
- Don’t take it personally. This friend’s insecurities will most likely get in the way of a great friendship.
- Be a great example of a good friend, because this person is in need of deep inner acceptance.
3. The Judgmental Friend
After hanging out with the judgmental friend, you probably feel weighed down. Your happiness seems to be offensive to her, to the point that she feels like she needs to take it from you. She sees in your growth her own stagnancy.
- This person doesn’t seem to be able to be happy for you, no matter what.
- She seems to perceive your growth as an insult or affront to her.
- Don’t engage, or take this personally. Just walk away.
4. The Social Climber
This person invites herself to events, tries to get close to people for appearances’ sake, and will throw you under the bus at any given moment (if, and only if, it makes her look good).
- They are chameleons, and seem to try to fit in with whomever they’re trying to impress.
- She seems to be turning into a carbon copy of you or someone else, and won’t acknowledge it.
- Don’t let her break down your boundaries, because she will — insidiously and without you realizing it.
- Reaffirm your personal boundaries, and get comfortable saying, “No, I don’t have a plus one.”
5. The Over-Promiser
The over-promiser has good intentions. She wants to be there for you, but she just doesn’t show up on an emotional or physical level.
- This person most likely doesn’t have the space to be who she wants to be, which makes it difficult to be a real friend to you.
- If you ever talk about it, you learn that this person is carrying around excess emotional baggage that she just can’t shake.
- Give this person space. Let her come to you when she is ready, and don’t share anything emotionally valuable with her. By recognizing her emotional limits, you stop the cycle of being the victim of an unbalanced friendship.
6. The Bad Intentionist
This person is a plotter, schemer, or sabotager. For whatever reason, she actually wants to hurt you.
- You may not be able to identify exactly why she makes you feel so bad, but you know something is off.
- When you try to bring it up, she makes it your fault, and guilts you into dropping the conversation altogether.
- Stay true to your instincts, and once you realize her destructive tendencies, keep your distance.
7. The Competitor
This person has a need to constantly one-up anyone and everyone. She has an air of false self-confidence that truly stems from a need to prove herself.
- Anything you can do, she can do better, and she makes sure you know it.
- She feigns appreciation for your accomplishments, and then minimizes them by sharing her own.
- Remember, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, and you are not responsible for providing someone else’s self-confidence — especially if it comes at the expense of your own.
Your “friends” won’t always have the best intentions for you. This doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It just means they’re human. Every one of us has our own emotional dramas playing out.
Place your friends only as close to you as they deserve — not as close as you wish they could be. And take this moment to honor and appreciate the great friends that are always there for you, and you for them.
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