The last thing I thought would drive a wedge between a close friend and me was a bat. I was alone in my studio apartment one morning when the uninvited visitor flew out from the shadows -- bobbing and circling above my head. Heart racing and screaming profanities, I panicked and ran three doors down to my friend's place, seeking backup. After waking her up, she declined to help, telling me to call Pest Control so she could go back to sleep.
Prior to the bat incident, my friend had been my wingman, an ever-loyal Robin. We didn’t go as far back as third grade, but we were work friends that bonded over a job we hated. We hit up local watering holes and went to yoga; she helped me move (three doors away, in case you forgot); I took her to Planned Parenthood when she thought she had crabs.
Maybe her reluctance to help me wasn’t as severe as, say, catching her doing the vertical slide with my boyfriend or something. Still, the fact that she abandoned me with a scary hairy thing made me want to erase everything we had endured, and I was faced with a potential friend breakup.
Every woman experiences at least one of these in her life. Here are a few of the familiar friend types that may require an eventual ousting (or at least someone getting a drink thrown in her face)...
We've known a Debbie Downer. We grow and change constantly, getting stunted by emotionally unavailable boyfriends or unbearable jobs, forcing us to blossom into more fearless women. But what if certain friends can't grow with us? Think Paris and Nicole. It was like Paris' vagina was given all the attention and Nicole suddenly couldn’t handle it. If your friend can’t be happy for you and celebrate all the good things coming your way, like finding new love or getting a well-deserved promotion, don’t waste your energy. Sometimes you need to cut off the negaholics.
Then there’s the good old SWF. These friendships feel magical and rejuvenating at first -- you can’t believe how similar you are! You've never had a friend that gets you so well. Then she cuts her hair exactly like yours and your cat suddenly goes missing. She incessantly texts and calls, possibly even sabotages your other relationships. You notice clothes missing from your closet and your ex tells you that she's been contacting him. She crosses lines that are not OK according to the laws of rational girlfriend behavior. When you bring it up, she throws a tantrum. Don’t feel guilty. Turn the other direction and swiftly walk away.
The next shady friend I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy: the Home-Wrecking Harpie. Yup, with this one, you'll find out she's messing around with your significant other (or an ex-significant other). Funny how she never mentioned that, to her, "sharing" includes absolutely everything. Even though Debbie Reynolds forgave Elizabeth Taylor for stealing her husband, it ruined their friendship for decades. Celebrity or not, I can’t think of a valid reason to justify this kind of behavior, ever. Under strict girl code, people that you and your friends have slept with should remain like Twinkies to a diabetic: off-limits. (Oh and dump your lover, too.)
Next: everyone knows Miss Mooch. Sure, we all occasionally borrow money, clothes, and batteries. Let's say you treat your friend to a lunch here, drinks there, maybe even Black Keys tickets because they're her fave. Jeez, you’re a fricken awesome friend -- and if these random acts of kindness get taken advantage of on a regular basis, you should rethink your generous tendencies. Relationships don’t need to be based on perfect, 100 percent reciprocity, but a little give and take is necessary.
Our crazy technological times have created Madame Houdini types. With this friend, it’s like she’s never there. She's constantly making plans, then breaking them. Something always comes up, and your friendship starts feeling insignificant. When she does grace you with her presence, she can’t stop texting. Everyone is conditioned like Pavlovian dogs to impulsively check their smartphones -- eye contact is so 20th-century, right? But it's perfectly OK to ask for more of your friend’s attention when you're together. This might require an honest conversation telling her that you'd appreciate it if she could try to be more present. If she's too busy or overstimulated to understand, text her goodbye.
Next up: Soap-Box Sally. We know how the public spat between liberal Rosie O’Donnell and uber-Republican Elisabeth Hasselback ended: in a live catfight split-screen, with terms like “fat lesbian” and “cowardly” being thrown around. Being friends with a person that has polar opposite religious or political views can sometimes get hairy. Let’s say you were great childhood friends, but she now believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned, or she has a Sarah Palin bumper sticker. Decide that it isn’t necessary to talk about things you don't see eye-to-eye on; agree to disagree. If she continues to tell you she “wants to talk to you about Jesus,” let the relationship dissolve.
Although it's hard to not have a soft spot for sensitive friends, Needy McGees can be frustrating. Do you have a friend that needs hand-holding through traumatic experiences like getting her oil changed, or choosing the best brand of almond milk? She can’t do anything alone, and she has trouble making simple decisions without consulting you. We all need advice sometimes, or help with exterminating winged rodents. But if she needs help on the daily, it’s time to turn the baby monitor off. You are not her mother and you're not running an adult daycare center.
Finally: the lovely Bridezilla. You took out a second mortgage to be a bridesmaid in her Bali wedding, now she only bothers contacting you via holiday cards or Evites. It’s like she said “I do” and then instantly fell off the face of the Earth. She and her partner appear to have gradually morphed into one body, hunting for other couples to make dinner reservations with. On top of that, she keeps asking you when you’re tying the knot, as if your existence will only be validated through a bridal registry. Don't worry, though. In two years, she’ll probably become available again -- when she’s getting a divorce.
Have you encountered difficult friendships like these? Which friends have you had to resort to dumping from your life?