In the words of Lady Gaga, "I've learned love is like a brick: you can build a house or sink a dead body." I was looking for a way to sum up the fact that our relationships are at once the most important parts of our lives, yet usually the thing that cause us the most distress. (Thankfully we have a cultural icon and spiritual guide to turn to.)
(Kind of) joking aside: the truth is that we need love. We need love to survive as infants and we need it to thrive as adults. We need family, whether that's the family we're born to or the family we choose. But it's this desire and need for others that usually lands us in trouble: if we don't feel that we're worthy of their love on our own terms, we seek their approval in other ways, and that usually turns into us being more susceptible to accepting their opinions as fact.
Unfortunately, friend "drama" doesn't always end once high school does — we still have our own issues and insecurities and jealousies that we take out on each other and, at the same time, seek solace in one another for. It's this unhealthy combination that usually leads to a weird sort of co-dependence, and it's hard to see it when you're in it. In case you've let it slide by you for too long, all the little signs your friend is affecting your self-esteem (and not in the good way):
You Worry About What To Wear When You're Around Them
You're hyper-conscious of how you present yourself, you rehearse or even subconsciously "predict" what they will say or how they will feel upon seeing you, and feel anxious not to be put together as your "best self" around them.
You Feel The Need To One-Up Them
You're secretly in competition with them, which means that at one point or another, they made you feel inferior (and you're trying to reclaim that power for yourself).
You Notice That Intense Self-Doubt Episodes Tend To Coincide With Their Presence
Do you always feel hyper-self-conscious when out shopping with them? Are you most unsure of your life after a long weekend hangout? It's probably not a coincidence.
Their First Instinct Isn't Unconditional Love And Support
If you're constantly looking for a reason that they aren't doing as well as they think they are, your first instinct is to be doubtful rather than happy for something in their lives, or you talk about them behind their backs for their traits and choices, you probably feel more inferior than you realize (jealousy is inferiority).
You Value Their Opinion More Than You Do Your Own
You take their word to be almost the equivalent of "what everybody thinks," and because you assume it's what everyone thinks, you start to trust it more than you do your own opinion or feeling.
You Leave Feeling Upset More Often Than You Do Like You Really Enjoyed Yourself
If you can't remember the last time you left a hangout feeling really enthused, happy, grateful, and like the world isn't so bad after all, you're not hanging out with the right crowd.
You Remain Friends Out Of Proximity Or Convenience
If you were to ask yourself why you're friends with them and "because I love who they are and how they make me feel and how much fun we have together" isn't your first answer, you don't want to be friends with them as much as you think you do. This issue can be separate from sensing that they're making you feel bad about yourself, but usually when we aren't enjoying ourselves with others is most when we feel we "can't" because "we don't deserve to."
Images: The CW; Giphy(3)