Keep Movin’

Junior discusses her experience with unhealthy friendships

Keep+Movin

Kaitlin Green, Publication Editor

Throughout life, it is not uncommon for a person to experience an unhealthy relationship with a friend that causes more harm than good. Junior Rebecca Tonkin has faced one such friendship in the past.

“This friend made some comments regarding my personal interests and physical appearance,” Tonkin said. “I found myself feeling really disgruntled and unhappy with the friend’s behavior.”

Tonkin is aware that her friend may not have meant for their comments to be rude, but they nonetheless caused harm.

“I could tell they were just making them as a joke, but I personally didn’t find them funny,” she said. “I found them to be incredibly hurtful and degrading.”

Along with humiliating comments, Tonkin believes she was unhappy in her friendship because of the lack of dedication shown by the other person in maintaining a healthy relationship.

“I would say it was a little bit toxic in ways,” Tonkin said. “There was an imbalance of effort in the friendship.”

Tonkin recognizes staying in the situation fostered insecurities.

“I didn’t like who I was around this friend,” she said. “It became clear I needed to take a step back for the friendship and just for myself in general.”

Tonkin decided to distance herself from her friend because of its harmful effects on her mental health. Currently, she does not have a close relationship with her friend.

“Every once in a while, I will catch up with this friend,” Tonkin said. “But my motivation to keep the friendship has really decreased because of repeated behavior.”

Despite the difficulties her friend caused her, the experience has helped Tonkin discover the type of people she wants to surround herself with.

“As long as they’re a genuine, nice person who’s able to show empathy and respect, I’d be interested in being their friend,” she said.

Tonkin has also learned about the characteristics she aims to bring to a friendship.

“I want to be able to show empathy,” she said. “But I also want to be self-aware of my actions and how I’m playing a role in their life.”

In hindsight, Tonkin is grateful for having gone through the friendship. It allowed her to learn valuable life lessons she can carry into future relationships.

“I learned that not everyone is going to like me, and that’s OK,” Tonkin said. “I shouldn’t have to change myself to satisfy them.”

Tonkin believes the best way to avoid negative friendships is to focus on the quality of the relationship and veer away from negativity.

“You’re a reflection of your top five friends,” Tonkin said. “If a friend is making you feel [uncomfortable], look to find new people.”

“You’re a reflection of your top five friends.””

— Rebecca Tonkin, 11