Friends In Low Places: How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship

How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship

“All of her cruelty suddenly came out. She said the other bridesmaids were not having the same issues: They weren’t complaining about the sizes since they fit in the dresses, and I was being dramatic,” says Victoria. “I was already upset and feeling so ugly and fat, and I was mortified I couldn’t fit into this tiny sample-size dress. I expected my friend to be understanding, since she also struggled with body issues, but instead she began fat-shaming me.

I ended the conversation because I was just so embarrassed, even though logically I had nothing to be embarrassed about.”

A few days later, Grace asked Victoria about her flight plans, and Victoria admitted she was very worried about how to pay for the trip. “Without a second thought, Grace told me I didn’t have to be in the bridal party if it was going to be such a problem. She began saying that I was guilting her for HER day, that I was the one being mean and unaccommodating, that I was ruining everything.

She was my child’s godmother, and she dropped us as if we meant nothing to her. All those years of friendship were thrown away because I was too fat and too poor. Her parents didn’t even go to the wedding because they couldn’t afford the travel, and Grace didn’t care. She said they were the problem and not her.”

toxic friendship and healthy friendship
Friends In Low Places: How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship

Attack Of The Ego

Anthony has been a certified wedding planner and consultant for over 30 years. According to him., “It is entirely possible, and not at all expensive or stressful, to make sure your bridesmaids are comfortable and confident. There are so many options out there, and bridal shops are more than willing to work with the bridal party to ensure everyone feels like a queen.”

Some brides are simply difficult, Anthony says, and are only concerned with themselves. “Those are the bridezillas, their narcissistic ego comes through, and many relationships simply never recover.”

Looking back, Victoria realizes that Grace was allowing her toxic, narcissistic traits to show through. A non-narcissist would have been disappointed about the dresses not working out but would have cooperated with her friends to find an alternative. There would have never been fat-shaming or blaming her friend for not being able to afford plane tickets: These are all tools of a narcissist.

Turning the tables with guilt, shame, and embarrassment and attacking someone’s weaknesses is what keeps a narcissist in control. Victoria had found identical dresses, available in larger sizes from another company, but Grace refused to even look at them.

Narcissists have a very subtle and tactical method of attacking people, even those they claim to love. Toxic individuals will identify their opponent’s weak spots and use them when the situation presents itself.

Related: Letting Toxic Friends Go: How To Move on From Toxic Friendships

Victoria’s worry over the expenses and the stress of needing to fit into a too-small gown was a sharp knife Grace used to get Victoria to back out. Grace was very tactful in not demanding Victoria step out of the bridal party; instead, she made it sound as if it was Victoria’s choice, then guilted Victoria for a choice she never even made.

It is important to remember that under such a brash façade is a very weak individual with her own fatal flaws. Grace herself had a negative body image but projected that on to Victoria, who refused to apologize for needing a different size.

“Grace made sure to tell me that all of the other bridesmaids were sizes small and medium, and no one else was complaining. Even though I was her friend, I didn’t fit the image she wanted for her wedding day. So, I was out. Not even a second thought for my child. She said she had other friends with children who could fill in. It was nice to know that my child and I were just space fillers.” Grace and Victoria haven’t spoken since.

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Kristy Lee Hochenberger

Kristy Lee Hochenberger is a doctoral student of psychology at Capella University and a member of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. A graduate of prestigious Wells College, Kristy Lee is also a licensed funeral director and co-founder of Salt City Legacy Scholars, Inc, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that awards scholarships and financial assistance to young women across New York State. In addition to her Bachelor's degree, Kristy Lee has an Associate's Degree in Occupational Services as well as a Master of Business Administration. A native of Queens, NY, she currently resides in upstate New York where she is an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) and University of the People.View Author posts