Poisonous Friendships vs. Valuable Friendships; An HSP Dilemma

I submit today’s post in honor of Galentine’s Day (February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day), where we offer support and thanks for our wonderful female friends. I intend to celebrate this day to the fullest because I do have some really wonderful women friends. But that hasn’t always been the case.

I have one core group of friends I met in high school, one in college, and a few scattered I’ve met over the years who are the best of the best. But there are also many people in my life who have impersonated the friendship role. Those are the ones who have burned me in the most treacherous ways. These are the poisonous friendships that can cause deep wounds that are especially heinous to HSPs.

Image courtesy of Geralt (Gerd Altmann) on Pixabay.
  • Why We are Susceptible to Poisonous Friendships

HSPs generally are open to new friendships. We like to believe that we can find the best in other people, and we want to open ourselves to the opportunity to find it. Unfortunately, there is something we must learn (most often the hard way), and that is that there are people who have no real interest in being a friend. Their only interest is in getting what they can from you to fulfill their own self-centered desires. We tend to attract those kinds of people. Our giving nature makes us targets.

Why It Hurts Us More Than the Average Person

I probably don’t have to explain this too much to you. We are empathic, conscientious, and place a lot of meaning in deep relationships. In turn, we expect the same in return. As mentioned above, we tend to be the targets of less desirable would-be friends. When we become vulnerable to, and involved in, a deep friendship, it can have a devastating effect when we discover it was all a delusion.

Plus, we usually have less friendships because we seek a deeper level of relationship from those friends. This narrows our friendship community. It also increases the chance that when a friend has betrayed our trust in that relationship, the result is a larger wound.

Image courtesy of AdinaVoicu on Pixabay.

What Our Journey Through Life as an HSP Teaches Us about Friendships

If we are aware of the above, why do we bother? First and foremost, when we have made a valuable friendship, it is much more satisfying because we can share our deepest fears and foibles, as well as our successes. We can count on those friends being in our cheering section, or having our back, comforting us. This is invaluable in our very challenging lives.

There is also a benefit from the toxic friendships. We learn who we can trust and nurture in a friendship and who we must walk away from. We grow in our understanding of ourselves and others. And, we also learn to trust our intuition. I believe HSPs have a finely tuned intuition that grows even more precise the more we learn from it. When I look back at the poisonous friendships, there was always some little hint or clue, usually undefined, that told me to be wary. I’ve learned to trust that inner voice more and more.

If you are a highly sensitive person, friendships can be a challenge. But they can also be the most rewarding of experiences. This is your dilemma, but it is also your gift. Learn it’s lesson, and enjoy its bounty because it is one of your gifts.

If you’d like to take a shortcut in your own life education, and learn from my mistakes, I suggest you read “Mere Sense, a Memoir of Men, Migraine, and the Mysteries of Being Highly Sensitive.” I share details of failed friendships and the lessons I learned from them.

Copyright 2023, Monica Nelson

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