Have you ever simply walked away from a friend who upset you during a conversation? Do you feel obligated to stay and listen to someone venting even if their anger and frustration spills out onto you?

Why We Listen

Women seem to instinctively know how to listen. As opposed to men, we don’t assume that every problem needs to be solved or every person who is venting wants a course of action to follow. Women know how to listen quietly and offer support, empathy, and a nonjudgmental ear. So often, our friends simply want to talk an issue out until it no longer bothers them – something that few men understand. And that is why most people choose a female acquaintance when they want to vent.

But is it always a healthy situation to sit and listen, even when the conversation gets uncomfortable? What happens if the person you are trying to help turns on you because you don’t provide the affirmations they are seeking? What if the person venting is too egotistical and can’t see their destructive behavior for what it really is?

How to Handle Toxic Relationships

I’ve been through this experience before. A friend of mine who was working in the hospitality industry became very upset when a new manager took over the helm of the hotel where she was working. Over a period of several months, it became clear that clashes with the new manager’s system and style did not bode well for her future with the company. She complained endlessly about her work environment but instead of taking positive action, such as seeking a new job or even a transfer to a different property, my friend let her frustration and anger build to the point that she simply quit one day.

I was one of the first people she called afterward. It was obvious she was expecting sympathy and affirmation that she’d done the right thing. When I couldn’t provide it, she quickly turned on me, lumping me into the same category as her hated ex-boss. All I’d done was remind her that she had kids to take care of and bills to be paid and this turned me from friend into foe.

I made a decision at that point. I hung up on her ranting and raving, walking away from the conversation.

Stay True to Your Self

I believe this was the best decision to make under the circumstances. My so-called friend was asking me to be untrue to my core values, one of which is honesty. She wanted to hear things I wasn’t comfortable saying. When I refused, she showed me just how toxic our relationship had come.

The warning signs had been there for some time. Thinking back, I realized that for some months my friend had been focusing completely on herself and ignoring my needs. She refused to be happy for me, instead trying to pull me down into her misery.

Had I continued to listen to this friend and make peace with the toxic relationship, I would have paid the price. My core values would have been compromised and it would have made my own life just as miserable as hers.

When you are faced with the decision to stay and listen to a friend who represents a toxic relationship or walk away to keep your own sanity, the choice should be clear. You are doing her and yourself a favor by refusing to agree with her actions and behavior. You can’t change your friend but you can change the way you react to her. Stay true to your self and you will never go wrong.

Author's Bio: 

Lori Chance is a collaborative writer and editor specializing in how-to, informational, spiritual, and personal development articles and books. Her self-coaching book for women titled Who Am I? is now available through Amazon and her website. Learn more about answering this important question and receive the Top 5 Secrets to Successfully Change Your Life for FREE, by visiting her website and blog. You can also connect with Lori on Facebook.