• Keeping Friends
  • Resolving Problems

Toxic Friends: An Interview with Florence Isaacs

Published: August 27, 2007 | Last Updated: November 2, 2023 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading

Freelance journalist Florence Isaacs, an expert on relationships, friendship, and effective communication in business and social situations, wrote the groundbreaking book on friendship, Toxic Friends True Friends: How Your Friendships Can Make or Break Your Health, Happiness, Family, and Career (Citadel, 2003).

When I decided to write a book about fractured friendships, her book was high on my reading list; if you are interested in the topic of friendship, it should be high on yours as well. She graciously agreed to answer some of my questions about her book and about female friendships in a recent email interview.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I loved the word “toxic” from the book “Toxic Parents,” by Susan Forward. I remembered it when thinking about a title that would grab readers and also describe what the book was about.

Do you know the origins of the term “toxic friendship”? Did you coin it?

I never heard the term “toxic friends” used before, but who knows. The world is wide and someone else may have come up with it before me.

What are some of the signs of a “toxic friendship”?

Since we’re human, no friendship is ideal all the time. We have lapses. However, a friendship is toxic if it’s regularly unsupportive, unrewarding, unsatisfying, draining, stifling and/or unequal.

How can a woman gauge when a friendship is more trouble than it’s worth and know when to call it quits?

I think you have to draw a balance sheet. If the minuses outweigh the plusses for a long time, why continue the relationship? What are you getting out of it? Friendships are supposed to be positives in your life. There’s only so much time, and time spent in a negative friendship is time you could be spending on a more rewarding experience. In a marriage it’s possible you might choose to stick it out for the sake of the children, but that doesn’t apply in a friendship. That said, sometimes the issue is frequency. The friendship works when you see each other once or twice a year. More often sets you up for conflict. Of course there are instant friendship killers. If your friend sleeps with your spouse or partner, it’s over.

Are there any ways to avoid such negative relationships?

Don’t let irritations grow until you explode. If something your friend has said or done bothers you, talk about it and clear it up early. Often it can involve a misunderstanding or the friend didn’t mean it or realize the effect on you. Also realize there are different levels of friendship. Don’t expect the same things of a casual friend as you might in a best friend.

Is there anything else you learned from writing the book?

How valuable good friends are at all stages of life!

To find out more about Florence Isaacs and her writing, go to www.florenceisaacs.com

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS, Toxic friends

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  1. DL Blanco says:

    I am so happy that I came across this webpage! A little over a year ago, I went through a horrible time with someone I considered my best friend. She had some jealousy issues which I was always aware of but was never really affected by. That was until I got back in touch with some friends I had lost contact with over the years. Well that’s when the straw broke the camel’s back. I found out that she had been lying to my friends by telling them that I wanted nothing to do with them so that she could keep my friendship to herself. She was confronted by her lies and started acting really crazy and this is when things started to spin out of control.

    Alot happened. Too much to go into detail here but in the end we wound up in court and she finally was out of my life. This whole experience inspired me to write, Single Latina Female, and have this book published because it was my way of telling the story for others to know that they are not alone. I learned the hard way not to avoid the obvious warning signs of a toxic friend. Now I feel like novice in the friendship department and would love to help anyone out with advice I could give.

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