How to Marie Kondo Your Friendship Circle
If it doesn’t spark joy, let it go. Marie Kondo’s iconic advice doesn’t just apply to your once-treasured trash possessions — it can also be applied to friendships that you’ve outgrown or have otherwise run their course. Specifically, the toxic kind.
The "Whomp" (it’s like talking to a wall)Remember the walking stone walls in Super Mario that grunt at you and keep you from moving freely? Somehow, after spending time with this friend, you inevitably feel as if you’ve just finished running frantically from Whomps — or you're left feeling tense. Your mind may not have registered it yet, but your body has — this friend isn’t making you feel good about yourself.
The fixThis may not be someone you want or need to cut out entirely, but you may want to limit time with this person to group settings — where their stressful energy will be more balanced out.
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The "Paperweight" (they don’t lift you up)Similar to the “Whomp” — but a little more obvious — you just never seem to feel quite happy or content after hanging out with this friend. Rather, it often feels more like you’ve just finished training for a marathon — this friend is exhausting.
The fixHonestly, this friendship may not be worth continuing to the same extent. Lessen your contact with this friend gradually, and see if you drift apart naturally. After all, if you feel exhausted by them, maybe the feeling is mutual. If not, and they seem hurt or confused by your behaviour — be honest, and gently explain that you’re looking for a different kind of friendship at this time.
Note: We’re not talking about people who are going through a tough time. It’s important to support friends in good times and bad — and help them seek help and resources if they need them.
The "Translator" (their language is off)The "Translator" never quite says what they mean — and you’re always left wondering what the subtext of their latest backhanded compliment really is. This can be an intensely-frustrating friendship at times, because at base level, it’s more about feeling as though your friend is never really being honest with you. It’s hard to build trust with someone you can’t read.
The fixThere’s likely something deeper at play here — maybe they’re jealous, maybe they’re afraid of being vulnerable or maybe they genuinely have no idea how their confusing words affect you. In any case, it’s best to address this directly with them, in plain and blameless language: think classic “when you ____, I feel ___.” If they get defensive, refuse to acknowledge your feelings or can’t otherwise change their hurtful language, it’s best to make a clean break of things.
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The "Hulk" (they’re always slightly envious)You wouldn’t like this person when they’re angry — not that they’re ever that straightforward. This person bears no resemblance to the "Hulk" in terms of showing honest emotion. No, their auras are dark — and they're often green with envy. It’s rare for them to appreciate good things happening in your life — if they do at all.
The fixApproach this one gently: they’re clearly coming from a place of insecurity. See if you can broach the topic by sharing how their inability to be happy for you makes it hard to be open to them. It’s tough to have a true friendship with someone who is more interested in competing with you than cheering you on.
The "Negative Nancy" (they can’t be happy for you)"Negative Nancy" is similar to "The Hulk" in that this behaviour probably stems from a place of jealousy, but here, they'll sniff out flaws or the negative in every situation ever.
The fixThis one is tough to salvage. Negative people often have this outlook weaved into their character and personality. If you're focusing on the positive and looking to move forward with that perspective, this person may hinder your growth. Limit interactions to group situations where their negativity is less contagious.
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The "Pollyanna" (they can’t deal when you’re sad)You know that friend who can never seem to just admit when things are going poorly? Like, the sun could explode, and they’d still be waxing poetic about how at least now humans don’t need to worry about climate change. Yeah, annoying.
The fixTell them, straight up, that sadness and anger and otherwise “negative” emotions are just as valid and important as positive ones, and if they can’t respect that, you’ll need to create space in the friendship to ensure there is enough room for you to feel and appreciate the full spectrum of totally-normal, totally-human emotions.
The "Ghost" (they’re always bailing)We’re not talking about the odd time they’ll cancel because they got stuck at work — no, this friend makes habit of bailing. No matter how far you plan ahead or what the circumstances surrounding your hang are, you can never seem to make plans with this friend stick.
The fixCall them out for not respecting your time — because that’s what this one is really about, and any pattern of disrespect is not worth hanging around for. So much of friendship is just showing up, in more ways than one. Don’t waste your time on someone who literally is never there for you.
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The "Tin Man" (they can’t be vulnerable with you)The Tin Man wanted a heart — and this friend probably wants to share theirs, but doesn’t know how. Having vulnerable, honest conversations with this person always leaves you feeling a little bit awkward, or even stupid — which is the exact opposite of how you should feel after opening up to someone you care about.
The fixTry being the one who takes the lead in opening them up — if they are incapable of friendship intimacy and that's something you value, you may have to downgrade the connection and lean towards people who are on the same wavelength as you.
The "Scrooge" (they’re never generous with you)Look, friendship ain’t about the money. But generosity goes a long way in a connection. It doesn’t have to be much, but contributing equally to the friendship financially matters. If you’re always paying for dinner or pitching in extra for group birthday gifts and this friend never seems to reciprocate, it can be hard to not feel taken for granted.
The fixMake it a little more businesslike the next time the bill comes. Ask them to split ahead of time, and if they’re hesitant, explain that you really can’t cover them this time — or offer to find a free activity. Again, this one isn’t about the money so much as feeling taken advantage of. No one likes to hang around with folks who feel entitled to their wallets.
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The "Lazy Friend" (they never actually take any responsibility)Friendship, like all relationships, require work. While, we can go through phases where someone takes on a heavier workload than the other — it can be frustrating when one friend is always taking the lead with activities, hosting and more.
The fixHave a real, grown-up conversation with your lazy friend and tell them to step up. Let them start suggesting meet up spots, encourage their input when it comes to activities and let them start taking some initiative and responsibility in the friendship.
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