Life Beyond Breast Cancer: Healing The Mind, Body, & Spirit
November 2011: Slow Cookin'

Energy Vampires, Toxic Friends and Poisonous Pals, Oh My!

Vampire Fangs with bloodWhile they don't show up saying, "I want to suck your blood," Energy Vampires will sap you of every ounce of energy you allow them to feast upon. Fear not! You are among many who have also met up with at least one of these draining monsters. Call them energy vampires, "toxic" friends, or poisonous pals, recognizing them will make you invulnerable to their dark charms.

These aberrant versions of friends appear in all shapes and sizes, and once they sink their teeth into you, it's hard to escape. The stats collected by and (in a joint survey), on this scary relationship trend will startle you awake before you get bitten again!

❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖, the online home of America's No. 1 morning program, and, the official website of the women's well-being magazine SELF, unveiled the results of their "Toxic Friends" survey, which searched for the truth about "poisonous pals." In the extensive poll of 18,000 women (ages 18 - 80), 84% said they have had at least one venomous friend who has brought toxicity into the relationship through belittling, backstabbing, or judging.

The top five types of toxic friends identified in the survey include:

- The "Narcissist" - 65% of people have endured an egomaniac pal.

- The "Chronic Downer" - 59% of people have a friend that is overly needy and emotionally draining.

- The "Critic" - 55% of people have become friends with someone that is overly critical.

- The "Underminer" - 45% of people have a friend that delivers backhanded compliments.

- The "Flake" - 37% of people have a friend who is reliably unreliable.

"More than 8 in 10 women say they have a toxic friend - a social vampire who sucks their time and joy - yet nobody admits to being a bad friend themselves," said Julia Sommerfeld, senior editor for "Unlike family, we get to choose our friends, so it's a bit surprising that so many of us hang on to people that make us unhappy. Our results are a healthy reminder to surround yourself with friends who support and fortify you - and also, to look at your own behavior and make sure you are truly a friend worth keeping."

Perhaps even more surprising, 83 percent of women admitted that they have stayed in friendships with a "frenemy," simply because it felt too tough to end it.

"Women deal with stress from all over - the economy, their families, their bodies. Friends should be a source of strength, support and positive emotional well-being. If a friendship adds to the overall anxiety you're feeling, it may be that you owe it to yourself to make a change there," states Lucy Danziger, SELF Editor-in-Chief. "Think about the fact that your health is at stake and take measures to protect yourself against toxic emotions. SELF helps you figure out if and when you need to bail on a relationship and how to do it. It's a matter of taking care of yourself."

Additional findings from this survey include:

Best Friends: No Matter What?... 33% said that their toxic friend was also their best friend.

Work Buddies: Making Our 9 to 5 Easier?.. Nearly 40% have experienced a major conflict with a friend at work. 25% noted that when a work friendship ended, the work relationship felt strained, too.

Taking Our Friendships Online: 37% of respondents have hidden a friend on Facebook when upset or sick of him or her.


These results should spook anyone into analyzing their friendships. If you aren't feeling good after an encounter with a particular pal, it may be time to make a change. Don't be afraid... Be brave, face the fear of ending the friendship, and remember to wear a scarf when you do it!

Thank you to and for republication permission (color emphasis added).

★ is the first stop for consumers interested in news, advice and lifestyle information of all kinds. In addition to the interviews and tips from NBC's TODAY, the site offers a behind-the-scenes blog and regular expert columns on everything from food and fashion, to parenting and relationships. also offers original web-only reporting and interactive features to help make sense of the latest news and trends. Don't miss a moment.
★ Reaching 10 million readers and online users, SELF provides the information and inspiration to help every woman take charge of her life, reach her well-being goals and become her best SELF. SELF is the founder of the Pink Ribbon for breast cancer awareness and an ASME National Magazine Award winner for excellence in journalistic achievement in print and online. SELF is published by Condé Nast, home to some of the world's most celebrated media brands. For more information, visit


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