Why We Pursue Toxic Friendships

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By the power of the Holy Spirit living within you, you’ll learn how to steer away from harmful people and settle into healthy relationships. This is part of the new life He has prepared you for!

“Don’t remember these earlier events; don’t recall these former events. Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NET Bible)

We tend to chase what we didn’t have.

Growing up, I longed to be affirmed and loved by my parents. One leaned toward predatory tendencies, and the other battled narcissism, which meant neither had much energy to give me.

So I spent my childhood desperately trying to make sure they would love me. Oh, the relational gymnastics I performed to be noticed and loved! And yet, that story seldom solved itself, so my heart felt incomplete.

My love-loop remained open-ended, unresolved. When I met Jesus at age 15, He beautifully tied up the loop, but as life wore on, I subconsciously (desperately!) tried to close the already-closed loop in my own strength. I felt that if I could get a predatory person or a narcissist to love me, I could prove, finally, that I was worthy of love.

So I chased friends that had either trait — or both — which led to some difficult years. The sad thing is, I couldn’t see my pattern. I kept pursuing friends who hurt or disregarded me in the same ways my parents had. I would invest years in friendships that inevitably blew up and left me devastated.

Today’s passage helped me recognize my unhealthy pattern. The prophet Isaiah, just prior to these verses, recounts how God miraculously rescued the nation of Israel from those bent on destroying them. He provided a clear pathway of rescue through the Red Sea! But now God was encouraging the people to not dwell on the way God worked back then, but to prepare their hearts for a new, completed work.

“Don’t remember these earlier events; don’t recall these former events. Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

While my parents weren’t my enemies, Jesus did deliver me miraculously through the sea of His blood when I met Him. That deliverance meant He truly did complete my love-loop, but without the predatory or narcissistic tendencies. I simply needed to rest there, then anticipate the new life and new ways of finding friends He had for me.

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. Have you chased the same kinds of toxic relationships, only to be continually broken by them? Have you experienced friend-breakups that left you reeling? Do you keep choosing unhealthy people to close the love-loop?

Here’s the truth: Jesus has already completed your love-loop. You are worthy of love because He chose you before the foundation of the world. Whether you had parents, siblings or friends in your past that treated you awfully, you can still rest in the fact that the God of the universe left the 99 and pursued you. (Found in the parable of the lost sheep, Luke 15:3-7.)

This new way of living, in light of God’s affection for you, will empower your “friend-picker.” By the power of the Holy Spirit living within you, you’ll learn how to steer away from harmful people and settle into healthy relationships. This is part of the new life He has prepared you for!

After experiencing several painful predatory and narcissistic friendships (and interacting with those who share a similar story), I not only began to investigate why I pursued them, but I also studied the nature of those relational dynamics. The result?

I put a name to these folks, based on the seven deadly sins outlined in Proverbs 6:16-19 — Narcissist Nolan, Unreliable Uma, Predator Paige, Conman Connor, Tempter Trevor, Faker Fiona, and Dramatic Drake — then uncovered their presence in my life and started a path toward healing.

It’s my sincere prayer that if you’re struggling with toxic relationships, today you will rejoice in the ways God has already completed your love-loop, while you wait on Him to heal you from those relationships and surprise you with new, healthy ones.

Dear God, thank You for beautifully completing my love-loop. Give me discernment as I heal from difficult friendships and choose new relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 5:17, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away — look, what is new has come!” (NET Bible)

Proverbs 13:20, “The one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (NET Bible)

RELATED RESOURCES:
In her brand-new book, The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy, Mary DeMuth guides you through the seven types of toxic relationships and helps you discover the path to hope and healing. Learn more, here.

Are you in one of these seven toxic friendships? Take the Seven Deadly Friendships quiz, here.

CONNECT:
Mary is a popular writer and speaker and host of the Pray Every Day podcast. Connect with her at her website, www.marydemuth.com.

How’d you like to win your own copy of The Seven Deadly Friendships by Mary DeMuth? To celebrate the launch of Mary’s brand-new book, her publisher is giving away 5 copies! Just share a comment here in our comments section, and you’ll automatically be entered to win. {We’ll randomly select the winners and notify each one via our comments section by Monday, October 8.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How has your past influenced the way you’ve chosen your friendships?

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