Friendships: The Good, the Bad, and the Mortifying

Oct 23 , 2021
By Eden Sahle

Friends help us make the most out of life, providing social and emotional support as well as encouraging us to do good in life. People who have strong friendships experience less stress, recover more quickly from diseases, and are likely to live longer than those that are asocial. Maintaining such good social connections lowers our risk of mental and health problems.

But not all friends have such a valuable effect. Some friendships become the source of our stress. Some of the friends we have in our lives can be downright negative and cynical about anything and everything including themselves. They require constant attention like infants.

Recently, I was forced to keep my distance from a couple of friends I had made through work. They are a couple of intelligent people but have a way of looking down on everybody, including themselves. They always have negative things to say about themselves and others. Neither could they get over their former friends who hurt them a decade ago. They wish them all sorts of bad things. They compare their life with these friends who probably have forgotten all about them years ago and get angrier by the day.

Their social media posts are filled with how people betray others and why it is impossible to trust others. They perceive friendship as being about talking bad behind others' backs.

They have never bothered to look at how far they have come in life and how much they have achieved in their careers. Instead, they envision misfortune in their future. They have given up on their lives and encourage others to do the same. They do not see hope in themselves and anyone. Mostly, they are unkind to themselves.

Although these friendships were draining me to the point of mental exhaustion and boredom, I stayed in the friendship hoping for them to grasp the potential and the value I see in them if only they could change their mindset, and forgive and live life in peace with others.

Centrally, friendships are not relationships we hold out when things are going well or when we need something. They need to be nurtured at all times for mutual growth. But we should never forget that bad character corrupts whatever goodness we have in us. Eventually, we will find ourselves becoming like our friends.

We should do everything we can to help our struggling friends if they are willing. Among the many options I have taken to help these friends was introduce them to my other two former friends as they share many personal traits, I thought they might help out one another. To my dismay, it took them just a day to become enemies and start talking bad things about each other.

When a person does not get along with everyone, the problem is with them, not with others.

It is perfectly normal for friends to discuss all kinds of problems and even vent for hours. If such anger, disrespectfulness, and victim mentality persists, it becomes dangerous. Without realising it, I was being controlled. They ask me to do their jobs, show up at lightning speed when they suddenly want to meet and always make sure to pick up their phone calls no matter what. Unconsciously, I was trying hard not to fall into their category of bad people, which is everyone else they know.

While all of us will need help from time to time, when a person has an unhealthy chronic demand for attention and sympathy from others, it should be a deal-breaker. Friendships which often start simply can be ridiculously dysfunctional, affecting our peace. If friends always enjoy dwelling in self-pity, rejecting advice from others who wish them the best and show them what they could become, it is wise to stay away.

Friendships should not be painful. When they are, we should reach a phase to end the friendship altogether because it is not helping us grow or anybody else. It is bliss when friendships last a lifetime. But sometimes, it is best that it ends in peace and respect.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 23,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1121]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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