Whoever first said “Insecurity kills all that is beautiful” uttered a mouthful. When we think of insecurity and its negative impact on relationships, jealous or needy lovers often come to mind. But one thing we don’t discuss enough is how insecurity is also a cancer in friendships.
We all deal with insecurity on some level. We all face things that make us feel inadequate or unsure of ourselves. However, there are some people who struggle with chronic insecurity. They are consumed by the feeling of not being enough and it infiltrates nearly every aspect of their lives. Their preoccupation with their negative self-image, feelings of unworthiness, and how they are perceived by others spills over into their relationships — romantic and platonic — which can make sustaining those relationships difficult for both parties. Here are some of the ways low self-esteem manifests in and eventually ruins friendships.
An insecure friend is often unhappy because she is constantly comparing herself to those around her — including her friends. She can never be truly happy for the people around her because down inside the accomplishments, milestones, and come-ups of her loved ones will always make her feel less than. This slowly eats away at the foundation of friendship over time because the average person can tell when someone is not genuinely happy for them.
In addition to constant comparisons, an insecure friend engages in secret and open competitions with the people in her circle. In friendships, each party has her own opportunity to shine; however, an insecure person will always try to one-up her friends.
Over exertion of emotional energy
Sustaining friendships with insecure people brings a heavy emotional tax because insecurity breeds negativity. Over time, it becomes tiring to constantly hear someone putting themselves down. Research has even shown that people who provide support to low self-esteem individuals and feel that their support has been ineffective are more likely to develop negative feelings about the friendship.
Insecurity also cultivates conflict in friendship. Insecure individuals are often easily offended, which either leads to constant arguing or everyone walking on eggshells. Neither outcome is conducive to a healthy, long-lasting friendship.
Insecure people need constant reassurance and the people assigned with the daunting task of making them feel validated all of the time are usually those closest to them: their family and friends. This unhealthy dynamic causes relationships to become extremely one-sided.
Sometimes, as opposed to putting themselves down, an insecure person will take great pleasure in putting down the people around them. In friendships, this can often look like belittling comments, back-handed compliments, and downplaying accomplishments. The desire to make others feel inadequate often stems from underlying insecurities.
Insecurity in friendship can take on many different faces, but regardless of how it manifests, the outcome is often the same: broken and strained relationships. It’s an unfortunate reality, but one thing to remember is that true change can only come from within. It is not our job nor do we have the capabilities to “fix” our broken friends.