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April 22, 2011

TODAY.com, the online home of America’s No. 1 morning program, and SELF.com, 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, 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 percent of people have endured an egomaniac pal.
  • The “Chronic Downer” – 59 percent of people have a friend that is overly needy and emotionally draining.
  • The “Critic” – 55 percent of people have become friends with someone that is overly critical.  
  • The “Underminer” – 45 percent of people have a friend that delivers backhanded compliments.
  • The “Flake” – 37 percent 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 TODAY.com. “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 the TODAY.com and SELF.com Toxic Friends survey include:

Best Friends…No Matter What?

  • 33 percent of those surveyed said that their toxic friend was also their best friend.

Work Buddies: Making Our ‘9 to 5’ Easier?

  • Nearly 40 percent of the survey participants have experienced a major conflict with a friend at work.
  • 25 percent noted that when a work friendship ended, the work relationship felt strained, too.

Taking Our Friendships Online

  • 37 percent of respondents have hidden a friend on Facebook when upset with or sick of him or her.

Take the TODAY.com (www.TODAY.com)/Self.com quiz to learn whether you should deal with or remove the toxic friends in your life.

Methodology

The survey was hosted at TODAY.com and SELF.com during one week in May. A total of 18,000 readers, between the ages of 18 and 80, participated in the survey.

Media contact
Gina Stikes
TODAY.com
212.664.7403
Gina.Stikes@msnbc.com

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