How to Handle Your Bad-Influence Friends

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How to Handle Your Bad-Influence Friends

Friends are pretty awesome. They’re there to share a glass of champagne during the good times, and (hopefully) hand you a tissue when things aren’t going so great. But what happens when your bestie suddenly doesn’t seem to have your best interests in mind? It could be a spouse who doesn’t like hearing your morning alarm: “You seem tired. Why don’t you sleep in instead of waking up early to workout tomorrow?” A well-intentioned mother: “But lasagna is your favorite—have another plate!” Or a friend who doesn’t understand the new you: “You’re skipping happy hour to go to Zumba again? Loser!”

A little voice in your head might try to convince you to relax, go back to your “easy” existence, and focus your attention on making everyone around you happy. Don’t listen to that voice! Here are 3 questions to ask yourself instead:

1. Do I feel healthy and energized when I’m around him/her? Friends should lift your spirits and increase your happiness. If a friend or relative doesn’t fully support you—or the new you you’re trying to become, then the two of you may not be connecting in an authentic way. Instead of trying to please someone else, start a conversation with your buddy. Saying something like, “Hey, I’m on this health-kick right now, and I’d love for you to have my back,” might help your friend realize she’s not being as supportive as she could be.

2. Am I my kindest and healthiest self when I’m with him/her? If the answer is no, you’ll need to really think about your relationship. Friends who drink too much, eat junk food constantly, gossip about others, or focus on material things will influence you to do the same—it’s human nature to want to connect with others at their level. Again, start a conversation. It could be that your friend doesn’t even realize she’s always pushing you to finish her cheesy fries, or poo-pooing your invitations to join you for a hike.

3. Is it time for me to make new friends? Not every relationship was designed to fulfill all of your friendship needs. Now that you’ve adopted healthy new habits, you might be ready to make new friends who enjoy doing what you now love. Start saying hi to the other guys at the gym, and strike up a conversation with the gal on the yoga mat next to yours after class. You don’t have to totally dump your old friends (Remember that Girl Scouts rhyme, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other gold.”), just start seeing less of them and make sure you’re comfortable with the situation when you do hang out.

Already got a group of health-minded friends? Here are 6 ways to stay social that won’t sabotage your fitness or nutrition goals.

What are your tactics for dealing with a bad-influence friend? Share them in the comments below!

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  • Anne

    On the flip side: if you’re making these positive changes for yourself, frame them in a positive way. Don’t make others feel “less than” or “one down” because you’re pursuing this path. Instead, seek to encourage by leading a happy and healthy example. I know I’ve benefited MUCH more from seeing friends make positive strides than I have from listening to people who, in an effort to feel better about themselves, make snarky comments because I have weight to lose.

    There’s also a magic word: “No.” “No, thanks, no cheesy fries for me.” “No, I’m fine with my one glass of wine.” “No, don’t tell me that story about Fred.”

    Finally, if you’re seeking others’ support… be sure to offer it to them as well. Perhaps your friend who likes those cheesy fries is going through something, too. You could consider asking: “Hey, I’m on this health kick right now because I recognize I have some changes to make. How about you? What’s going on with you? How can I support you?” If you’re open in that way, your friend might be more sensitive and encouraging.

    • Sarak

      This was incredibly helpful me.