When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You

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Overview

"HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?"
We've all had friendships that have gone bad. Whether it takes the form of a simple yet inexplicable estrangement or a devastating betrayal, a failed friendship can make your life miserable, threaten your success at work or school, and even undermine your romantic relationships.
Finally there is help. In When Friendship Hurts, Jan Yager, recognized internationally as a leading expert on friendship, explores what ...

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When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You

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Overview

"HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?"
We've all had friendships that have gone bad. Whether it takes the form of a simple yet inexplicable estrangement or a devastating betrayal, a failed friendship can make your life miserable, threaten your success at work or school, and even undermine your romantic relationships.
Finally there is help. In When Friendship Hurts, Jan Yager, recognized internationally as a leading expert on friendship, explores what causes friendships to falter and explains how to mend them — or end them. In this straightforward, illuminating book filled with dozens of quizzes and real-life examples, Yager covers all the bases, including:
The twenty-one types of negative friends — a rogues' gallery featuring such familiar types as the Blood-sucker, the Fault-finder, the Promise Breaker, and the Copycat
How to recognize destructive friends as well as how to find ideal ones
The e-mail effect — how electronic communication has changed friendships for both the better and the worse
The misuse of friendship at work — how to deal with a co-worker's lies, deceit, or attempts at revenge
How to stop obsessing about a failed friendship
And much more

The first highly prescriptive book to focus on the complexities of friendship, When Friendship Hurts demonstrates how, why, and when to let go of bad friends and how to develop the positive friendships that enrich our lives on every level. For everyone who has ever wondered about friends who betray, hurt, or reject them, this authoritative book provides invaluable insights and advice to resolve the problem once and for all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sociologist Yager (Friendshifts) has been studying and writing about friendship since the 1980s. Drawing on the results of 180 questionnaires, as well as earlier studies she conducted, Yager focuses here on what to do when friendships go bad. Successful friendships, according to Yager, are marked by trust, honesty, empathy and commonality characteristics that may be compromised when a once-supportive relationship turns sour. When this happens as it inevitably does in the course of one's life friends may become self-absorbed, overly dependent, highly critical or even betray one another. Underlying childhood issues, such as low self-esteem, intense sibling rivalry and abusive parenting often prevent adults from forming satisfactory friendships. The author outlines a variety of coping techniques that committed friends can follow as they work through negative patterns that are eroding their relationship. She also explains how to recognize a friendship that is so destructive it must be ended (e.g., if a friend isn't there for you when your parent dies, it's a sign the friendship's over), how to actually end the friendship (try saying "I'm busy" when the friend asks to get together), how to detect "harmful" people before you become friends with them (examples are the "taker" and the "one-upper") and how to deal with friendships at work (Yager is convinced these friendships should remain casual). This valuable book will be a rescuer to all readers struggling to deal with an ailing friendship. (July) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743211451
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 700,548
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jan Yager, Ph.D., is a sociologist and the author of Friendshifts®: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives. Recognized as the number one expert on friendship in the country, she has been seen and heard on Oprah, The View, The O'Reilly Factor, and NPR, as well as on numerous other national television and radio programs. She lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
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Read an Excerpt

Introduction: When Friendship Turns Unfriendly

For some, "friends for life" seems to have replaced the ideal of a lifelong marital relationship. Of course, there are positive, wonderful friendships that are mutually beneficial to both friends that should last a lifetime. But there are other friendships that are negative, destructive, or unhealthy that should end. There may also be friendships that you thought were going well but, alas, all of a sudden, your friend stops returning your phone calls and won't answer your letters, and the friendship ends. Years later you still don't know what happened, and it haunts you.

In the two decades during which I have been researching and writing about friendship, I have seen the interest in learning about friendship soar. From a topic that was addressed infrequently by psychologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists (who tended to focus on parent-child or husband-wife relationships), articles about friendship are now a staple in popular magazines and daily newspapers, and also on web sites; and there are many books about this glorious relationship between peers that we call friendship.

Friendship has certainly been "discovered." Its benefits have been extolled by numerous researchers through anecdotes and examples, as well as through quantitative (or qualitative) studies by epidemiologists, sociologists, and psychologists, who have found a correlation between having even one close friend and an increased life expectancy, as well as better mental health and a greater chance of surviving breast cancer or a heart attack.

So why is there a need for a book like When Friendship Hurts? Because in all the excitement about getting the word out about the importance of friendship in our lives, too little attention has been paid to the notion that negative friendships can wreak havoc. Another reason is to have a forum to explore the possible causes of finding yourself in such a relationship, and how to best rid yourself of a noxious friend. Furthermore, if your friendships are consistently less than what you had hoped they would be, a Band-Aid approach to changing that situation is doomed to long-term failure. You need to look at the underlying causes of the negative friendships in your life; you need to go back to their roots in your parent-child and sibling relationships.

This book offers help and hope in understanding the complexities of friendships, as well as advice on how you can turn around your life — not just your friendships — by understanding why you have negative friendships and by finding and cultivating positive friendships. Having positive friendships — and that may not mean finding new friends, just interacting differently with the ones that you already have — can help turn around your career. For example, not only do friends help friends get jobs, but once you land a job, how quickly you rise at a company or in a career could depend as much on who your friends are at work and in your professional field as on your talents. By the same token, a friend can derail your career or get you fired. That's what happened with Marjorie (not her real name), a 23-year-old single female working as a teacher's assistant. Marjorie explains:

My best friend told my boss that she feared for her life after we got into an argument and I wrote her a nasty note, even though we had been friends for six years and she knew I would never hurt her. Because she went to my boss, I was fired after working there for a year and a half. She [my best friend] even went to the police but was told that nothing in the note was threatening. The reason for all of this had to do with the fact that she was highly competitive and felt this was a way of winning.

Unfortunately Marjorie's experience is more typical than you'd think. A 45-year-old married speechwriter at an Illinois corporation was fired because a single female friend at work, fearing that she herself might be fired after a poor performance review, blamed her unsatisfactory behavior on her boss, the head speechwriter, who was also her friend, alleging that his sexual attraction to her, which she called sexual harassment, made it difficult for her to concentrate. (Her claims were unsubstantiated but her boss/friend was fired anyway for failing to properly supervise his friend/employee.) Carol, a 39-year-old married woman, after finally landing her dream job as a florist, was betrayed so badly at work by three casual friends that she "had to take a three-week medical leave."

Losing a job or having a reputation damaged beyond repair is bad enough, but friendship has been partly to blame for even darker situations. An infamous example is the friendship of the two teenagers who perpetrated the horrific murders of 12 of their classmates and one teacher, and injured 20 more, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, in April 1999, before committing suicide. Those boys, allegedly bullied and not part of the "in" crowd, seemed to act together, getting the strength to commit mass murder and suicide from their friendship.

Then in March 2001 it happened again. A 15-year-old boy in Santee, California, again the alleged victim of bullies, supposedly shared with four friends and one adult that he planned to shoot his classmates, but then reassured them that he was only kidding. The next day he did carry out his threats when he allegedly shot and killed two classmates. Three families were destroyed, a school was branded, and a community was shocked and grief-stricken. The boy's friends, believing him when he guaranteed that he was just kidding, were transferred to other schools. The authorities feared retaliation by their classmates for failing to report their friend's macabre bragging to the proper authorities.

But we don't need tales of murder and mayhem to find value in examining negative friendships and the consequences of betrayal. Over the two decades I have been researching friendship and friendship patterns, I have interviewed people who were betrayed when a "friend" seduced their romantic partner. Others ended a friendship because of a betrayal that, at the very least, stopped a pivotal work project in its tracks. I've interviewed men and women who told me that a friend had derailed their career by sharing privileged information that was supposed to be just "between friends." Others reported that a friend had stolen money from them. Here are other examples of betrayal that I have observed or heard about through interviews in the course of my friendship research:

  • "One of my best friends romantically pursued every woman in which I expressed interest." (24-year-old single male)
  • "She told me she was sleeping with my boyfriend and tried to convince me we should 'share.'" (37-year-old divorced mother)
  • "[My close friend at work] went to our mutual boss and described something we were either both working on or that I had taken the initiative to set up and talked about how he had handled it." (55-year-old, twice-divorced woman)
  • "A close female friend is jealous of me being married." (44-year-old married man)
  • "A best friend I grew up with attacked me [physically] for no reason." (23-year-old married female)
  • "A casual friend started a rumor about me at work." (50-year-old divorced mother)
  • "My maid of honor stole money from me on the night of my bachelorette party." (30-year-old married teacher)
  • "I'm not as open as I had been, [I'm] more reserved, because of what happened." [She was devastated when her best friend referred to her by a derogatory name when they were both 11.] (32-year-old married mother)

Jealousy can hurt someone's self-esteem and may also end a friendship, as Brenda, a 40-year-old homemaker and musician from Michigan, found out. "I used to weigh two hundred pounds," she notes. "I now weigh one hundred twenty-five pounds. My friend was two hundred and fifty pounds. When I lost the first few pounds, she backed as far away as possible."

Cheating with a romantic partner or spouse may end a friendship. A 31-year-old art instructor let her "really close friend" and co-worker live with her and her husband when her friend couldn't find an apartment. During that time, the friend "flirted or even had a relationship" with her husband. The friend also undermined her at work, spreading untrue rumors that she was being physically abusive to her art students. The marriage is on the rocks, and the friendship is over.

But some potentially destructive or harmful friendships may be difficult to spot. That's because when a friendship is forming, during the "courtship" phase, your friend may be charming, polite, and completely appropriate. Once your friendship is well underway, a friend may change. The very act of becoming friends may send someone with intimacy problems into an emotional tailspin, changing those involved as well as their behavior toward each other. As friends become closer and more intimate, expectations also may rise so that disappointments become more likely, and painful, than during the early stage of the evolving friendship.

Furthermore, as a friendship that formed within a certain context, such as at school or at work, expands to include a multiplicity of situations and even other relationships, conflicts may arise that may derail the friendship. In addition, the longer you remain friends, the greater your investment in maintaining the friendship; you are more likely to ignore or try to explain away negative behaviors. But you (or your friend) will be able to put up with only so much, and the friendship may last only until such an act of betrayal occurs that the situation has to be addressed and resolved or the friendship will end.

Friendships can certainly change in the level of intimacy, and expectations can be lowered about a friend, even if the friendship does not end completely, over betrayals, disappointments, or unmet expectations. That's what a 43-year-old market researcher found out when he gave a friend $150 to conduct interviews for a project on the researcher's behalf. Instead his best friend pocketed the money and never made good on his promise to do the work. Although the friendship hasn't ended, one wonders how close it is if they haven't seen each other "in many years."

Betrayal by a friend can even lead to the ultimate betrayal: murder. Twenty-six-year-old Don is married and a father. He is also serving 15 years to life for killing his best friend in an argument over Don's wife. "He had been dating my wife while I was out of town, and finally she ran away with him," Don notes.

Although not as drastic as murder, feeling miffed by a friend, even if it is a misunderstanding, can lead to extreme and even criminal acts. That's what seems to have happened to a 38-year-old married nurse whose friend at work "stabbed me in the back by spreading a false rumor about me which ingratiated her to the head nurse and which caused the head nurse to dislike me." Or the 49-year-old single woman whose jealous and angry friend "stole my jewelry."

Because of my extensive friendship research, writings, and expertise, as well as the workshops I facilitate and the lectures I deliver on friendship, I am often asked to appear on talk shows to discuss friendship. Journalists who are writing about the topic frequently interview me, and their many questions about recognizing, and coping with, negative friendships helped me to realize there was a need for this book. But I wanted to go even further: I wanted to help people to understand why they might select friends who eventually betray them, to reverse that pattern, and to address social trends that could be behind the fact that friendship betrayal seems to be more widespread than ever before.

I also wrote this book to help dispel the embarrassment and shame that too often accompany failed friendships. For some, admitting to a broken friendship has become like admitting to a failed marriage. It seems that, inspired by the very "pro-friendship" tone in writings and discussions about the topic over the last two decades, a myth of lifelong friendship has emerged, even as the ideal of a lifelong marriage has, sadly, become an unrealistic reality for many people.

The romanticized ideal that friendships should not end or fail may create unnecessary distress in those who should end a friendship but hold on, no matter what. They are clinging to the myth rather than understanding the relationship. But if neither all friendships nor all marriages last a lifetime, what's left to believe in that does?

The goal of When Friendship Hurts is to give you the tools to detect, and cope with, friendships that are destructive or harmful. I hope that reading it will give you greater insight into why friendships, especially your own or those of people close to you, may have ended or should have ended, and how to cope with these endings. Furthermore, if you have a habit of forming negative friendships, this book will help you to start choosing positive and healthy friends who will enrich your personal life and help you succeed faster and go further in your career.

There may even be current or past friendships in which, unwittingly or on purpose, you betrayed a friend. Understanding the impact of betrayal on the one who betrays, as well as on the one who is betrayed, can free up important emotional energy that otherwise may be drained by feelings of guilt, remorse, sadness, or associated emotions related to the betrayal. You can learn to forgive yourself, if you betrayed a friend; or if you were the betrayed one, you might consider how forgiving your betrayer might help you.

Most of us are blessed with supportive, caring, trustworthy friends. There are plenty of books available today that describe the process of forming and maintaining positive friendships, as well as extolling the benefits of friendship, including my own popular book, which takes an interdisciplinary approach that draws from sociology and psychology, Friendshifts™: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives.

But where can you turn for help if you feel a friend has betrayed you? Betrayal is when a friend, whom you counted on for support, love, affection, trust, loyalty, camaraderie, or respect, has somehow destroyed your trust. She may have violated a confidence or told a lie about you, harmed your other personal relationships, or even cost you your job. He may have failed to come through for you in your hour of emotional need, taken your money, stolen the affections of your romantic partner or your spouse, or, in the worst-case scenario, physically harmed you or even caused someone's death. Were these "friends" ever really friends? How could a "friend" commit such treacherous acts? Did this friendship start out as a destructive or harmful one, or become that way over time? Where did it take a wrong turn, and what do you do to end it, if ending is the best way of coping? If it started out that way, how can you learn to be a better judge of character early on so that you avoid befriending those who end up harming or betraying you?

In addition to answering those questions, another goal of this book is to help you to start asking your own questions about these issues, and finding your own answers. Some of you may be able to make this journey completely on your own; others may wish to get help along the way. If you do wish to seek outside help, in addition to asking others for referrals to professionals for one-on-one counseling or to self-help or professionally led groups, you can consult the Resources section in the back of this book, which provides a list of associations that offer referrals to local organizations or affiliated professionals.

Betrayal in friendship is a subject few people want to talk about openly, but one to which all of us can relate. But by offering anonymity and confidentiality, if necessary, I found men and women, boys and girls, who not only wanted to talk about betrayal but actually needed to talk about it as a necessary catharsis. In my most recent friendship survey, of the 171 people (out of 180) who responded to the question "Has a casual, close, or best friend ever betrayed you?" 116 (68 percent) answered "yes" and only 55 (32 percent) replied "no."

Betrayal can be defined as when a friend lets you down and is not there for you emotionally, or even literally: when a friend ends your friendship but you still want it to continue (and you sometimes may never find out why it ended). That is what happened to a young married woman from Colorado who wrote to me soon after watching an interview with me about friendship on a network morning talk show. I was discussing how friendships sometimes end, and that it's okay and normal for some friendships to end, especially if it's through no fault of your own. She was so moved that she sent me a "thank you" card, saying how much the point of view I had shared on the show had meant to her. She had been haunted by a friendship that ended although she never knew why. It actually kept her up at night.

If a friend ends a friendship and you are obsessed with not knowing why, you will probably have to deal with the reason for your obsession. In other words, you may never know the answer. (There is a discussion later in the book about how to get over obsessing about a failed friendship.)

But if it is you who decides to end a friendship, even a negative one, you should be careful to avoid possible vendettas. Remember that how you end a friendship may be as important as your decision to end it. That person who used to be your friend may at some point be in the position of deciding whether you get a raise, a major contract for your company, or a promotion at work.

Certainly, over the years, I have experienced the ending of several friendships that were extremely close. If I was the one to end it, I wondered if there was another way of handling the situation. If I was not, I felt confused, angry, and betrayed. So I have wanted to find answers to my own questions about betrayal in friendship, as well as evaluating the preferred way to deal with negative friendships that should end, if there is one.

I researched and wrote this book to answer my own questions as well as the ones that I am so frequently asked, through letters, e-mail, and even in the question-and-answer sessions following the talks I give on friendship: Why do friends do hurtful things to their friends? Why do friends betray each other? Why would someone get into a negative friendship? How do you get out of a destructive friendship? How do you find and cultivate positive friendships in your personal life and career?

How I attained my own metamorphosis to becoming a better friend, as well as all the original research and observations I have done over the last two decades, form the basis of this book. Just as my life — including my career, and all the relationships in my life, including friendship — has been enriched by what I have learned along the way about friendship, I hope to help you to reap the joys that healthy friendships will bring you. As you will see in reading When Friendship Hurts, sometimes the changes must start within us before we can expect anyone else, or our friendships, to change.

Copyright © 2002 by Jan Yager, Ph.D.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: When Friendship Turns Unfriendly

Part 1 Friendship: The Basics

1 What Is a Friend?

2 Detecting Harmful People Before They're Friends

Part 2 Why Do Friends Hurt Friends?

3 What's Really Going On?

4 It's All in the Family

Part 3 Coping

5 Can This Friendship Be Saved?

6 When and How to End It

Part 4 Business, Work, and Friends

7 Friendship at Work: Are the Rules Different?

Part 5 Breaking the Pattern

8 Finding Good Friends

9 Where to Go from Here

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Resources

Index

Reading Group Guide for When Friendship Hurts

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Introduction

Reading Group Guide for When Friendship Hurts

Discussion Points:

  1. In When Friendship Hurts, Dr. Yager lists many possible reasons one friend might hurt another. Think of a friendship you care about that either has ended or needs to improve if it is to last. What concepts from When Friendship Hurts might explain the conflicts in this friendship and help you to mend it?
  2. What is the definition of a positive friendship? What does Dr. Yager say are the key components of friendships that reaffirm us?
  3. Dr. Yager writes that there are really three kinds of friendship: casual, close, and best. What is similar and what is contrasting in these three categories?
  4. In addition to the level of intimacy involved, friendships are distinguished by the number of people in the friendship group. How do friendships between two vary from friendship groups including three, four, or more?
  5. Dr. Yager suggests 21 different types of negative friends. Do you recognize any of those traits in your current or former friends? In yourself? Pick a type that describes one of your friends. Why do you think your friend is like that? What can you do, if anything, to help yourself and your friend so the friendship stays positive?
  6. How can Dr. Yager's description of the Ideal Friend serve as a prototype? Do you have at least one friend who is ideal? Are you? In all your friendships or only in certain ones? If you are not the Ideal Friend, what could you change about yourself so you are a better friend?
  7. How can the techniques of conflict resolution discussed in Chapter 5 apply to the conflict you may be having with a friend? Is there at leastone technique you could try next time a conflict arises with a friend?
  8. When, if ever, is it time to end a friendship? Why is it sometimes better to let a friendship fade than to have a dramatic confrontation?
  9. What might you do if you don't like your child's friend? When might you want to intervene? What are other options to explore?
  10. What is the answer to the question posed by Chapter 7, "Friendship at Work: Are the Rules Different?" Should friendship at work be encouraged? What are the benefits of workplace friendships? What are some of the potential drawbacks?
  11. In the final chapter, Dr. Yager shares the example of Doris and her two close friends, each of whom abruptly and inexplicably cut off contact with her. What do you think of the way Doris handled this situation? Has something like that ever happened to you? How did you handle it? Have you ever cut off contact with someone you had considered a friend? Why? How do you feel about that decision now?
  12. If you had to pick one concept from When Friendship Hurts that would be most helpful to you in the way you deal with betrayal in friendship or the way you approach friendship in your career or personal life, what would it be?

A Note to Readers:

My goal in writing When Friendship Hurts was to inspire dialogue about an important kind of relationship we usually take for granted. We know we are supposed to work on our relationships with our spouses and children, but we seldom think of working on relationships with our friends. Yet a true friendship can be one of life's most rewarding experiences, and I am convinced it is a relationship we should value highly.

Since, by definition, friendship requires more than one person, and since the feelings and memories that reading this book evokes may be powerful and perhaps even painful, you may want some company on your journey. Discussing these issues with a reading or support group may be an excellent way to explore the broad range of themes presented here. But please remember that this book is not intended to substitute for professional help, if that is what you need. If you are already in therapy, you might want to share this book with your therapist or group so that you can talk about your reactions to the topics, anecdotes, and examples you are reading. Most of all, I hope this book will act as a catalyst to help you find your own answers.

My web site address is: www.janyager.com. There you will find information about my research and writings, as well as information about the seminars I conduct. You can also learn about the annual National New Friends, Old Friends Week, which I founded in 1997, and which begins on the Saturday after Mother's Day, to help remind all of us that friendships, especially positive and affirming ones, are worth remembering and celebrating.

Jan Yager, Ph.D., is a sociologist and the author of Friendshifts®: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives. Recognized as the number one expert on friendship in the country, she has been seen and heard on Oprah, The View, The O'Reilly Factor, and NPR, as well as on numerous other national television and radio programs. She lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide for When Friendship Hurts

Discussion Points:

  1. In When Friendship Hurts, Dr. Yager lists many possible reasons one friend might hurt another. Think of a friendship you care about that either has ended or needs to improve if it is to last. What concepts from When Friendship Hurts might explain the conflicts in this friendship and help you to mend it?
  2. What is the definition of a positive friendship? What does Dr. Yager say are the key components of friendships that reaffirm us?
  3. Dr. Yager writes that there are really three kinds of friendship: casual, close, and best. What is similar and what is contrasting in these three categories?
  4. In addition to the level of intimacy involved, friendships are distinguished by the number of people in the friendship group. How do friendships between two vary from friendship groups including three, four, or more?
  5. Dr. Yager suggests 21 different types of negative friends. Do you recognize any of those traits in your current or former friends? In yourself? Pick a type that describes one of your friends. Why do you think your friend is like that? What can you do, if anything, to help yourself and your friend so the friendship stays positive?
  6. How can Dr. Yager's description of the Ideal Friend serve as a prototype? Do you have at least one friend who is ideal? Are you? In all your friendships or only in certain ones? If you are not the Ideal Friend, what could you change about yourself so you are a better friend?
  7. How can the techniques of conflict resolution discussed in Chapter 5 apply to the conflict you may be having with a friend? Is there at least one technique you could try next time a conflict arises with a friend?
  8. When, if ever, is it time to end a friendship? Why is it sometimes better to let a friendship fade than to have a dramatic confrontation?
  9. What might you do if you don't like your child's friend? When might you want to intervene? What are other options to explore?
  10. What is the answer to the question posed by Chapter 7, "Friendship at Work: Are the Rules Different?" Should friendship at work be encouraged? What are the benefits of workplace friendships? What are some of the potential drawbacks?
  11. In the final chapter, Dr. Yager shares the example of Doris and her two close friends, each of whom abruptly and inexplicably cut off contact with her. What do you think of the way Doris handled this situation? Has something like that ever happened to you? How did you handle it? Have you ever cut off contact with someone you had considered a friend? Why? How do you feel about that decision now?
  12. If you had to pick one concept from When Friendship Hurts that would be most helpful to you in the way you deal with betrayal in friendship or the way you approach friendship in your career or personal life, what would it be?

A Note to Readers:

My goal in writing When Friendship Hurts was to inspire dialogue about an important kind of relationship we usually take for granted. We know we are supposed to work on our relationships with our spouses and children, but we seldom think of working on relationships with our friends. Yet a true friendship can be one of life's most rewarding experiences, and I am convinced it is a relationship we should value highly.

Since, by definition, friendship requires more than one person, and since the feelings and memories that reading this book evokes may be powerful and perhaps even painful, you may want some company on your journey. Discussing these issues with a reading or support group may be an excellent way to explore the broad range of themes presented here. But please remember that this book is not intended to substitute for professional help, if that is what you need. If you are already in therapy, you might want to share this book with your therapist or group so that you can talk about your reactions to the topics, anecdotes, and examples you are reading. Most of all, I hope this book will act as a catalyst to help you find your own answers.

My web site address is: www.janyager.com. There you will find information about my research and writings, as well as information about the seminars I conduct. You can also learn about the annual National New Friends, Old Friends Week, which I founded in 1997, and which begins on the Saturday after Mother's Day, to help remind all of us that friendships, especially positive and affirming ones, are worth remembering and celebrating.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 26, 2012

    Disappointed

    I was disappointed with this book --it was much more simplistic than what I was looking for. It seemed to carry a theme throughout: if your friend has problems, such as depression, unresolved childhood issues, etc., and they affect the friendship, it's best to end the friendship unless they go for therapy. The author advocates making and keeping friendships that are described as fairly ideal. That sounds great to me, but it just didn't seem very realistic, but rather black and white.
    I found one story in the book particularly unsettling. The author tells of one of her own college friendships. Ms. Yager says that her friend, "Cindy," told her that she had tried to kill herself. Ms. Yager speculates on her friends' upbringing and then says that at the time, she felt betrayed by Cindy's suicide attempt, "as if it were a slap in the face of our friendship." Ms. Yager says, "Looking back, my thinking, however selfish and confused at the time, may not be all that atypical. My first response was to wonder how much she cared about me as a friend if she was willing to cause me to suffer, as I would have if she had succeeded." The author goes on to say that the friendship fell apart over the next year or two, and that she knew it wasn't due to the fact that they lived in different cities, as she had other friendships like that that worked. She said the main reason was that Cindy's mental illness scared her. The author says that she has thought from time to time of trying to find Cindy to see if she got help and her life turned out okay -- but that she never has, and that the reason she never has is because she has so many positive, healthy friendships now, and therefore she takes "the coward's way out" and does nothing.
    What I thought was helpful about this story was that there are readers who might relate to how scary it is to learn that a friend is suicidal, and how problematic it can be. But mostly I found some things about the story, as told, a little disturbing. The author is a PhD Sociologist now -- not a layman about mental health issues. I'm wondering why a professional is still a "coward" about this incident. I also noticed that the author calls the many other friendship incidents in the book "betrayals," but when she relates her own story, she describes her behavior toward her friend as merely "insensitive" and says that she did what was probably typical. In a great many of the other stories, the author analyzes what childhood problems may have led to the betraying actions in the friendships, but in her own story, she just leaves it at "I wonder what happened to Cindy?" I'm not suggesting that the author must analyze her own reaction in this example from her life, but it strikes me as odd given the fact that she does so in so many of the other stories. I also wonder why the author doesn't end her story about her suicidal friend by suggesting to readers how serious it is when a friend talks of suicide, and what basic things to do when that happens, without becoming enmeshed yourself - the author is a PhD Sociologist.
    I found the book to be encouraging and validating in it's message of not letting destructive friendships go on and on and bring undue unhappiness and problems into your life, but it was too black and white for me, with too little insight into navigating through the problems. To me, the author seems to be justifying her own unintentional betra

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    Disappointed

    I was disappointed with this book-it's more simplistic than what I was looking for and it seemed to carry a theme: if your friend has problems-depression, unresolved childhood issues, etc., and it affects the friendship, it's best to end it unless they go for therapy. The author advocates making friendships that sound fairly ideal, which didn't seem very realistic. One story in the book I found particularly unsettling-the author tells of one of her own college friendships. She says that her friend, "Cindy," told her that she’d tried to kill herself. Ms. Yager speculates on her friends' upbringing & says that at the time, she felt betrayed by Cindy's suicide attempt, "as if it were a slap in the face of our friendship." She says, "Looking back, my thinking, however selfish and confused at the time, may not be all that atypical. My first response was to wonder how much she cared about me as a friend if she was willing to cause me to suffer, as I would have if she had succeeded." She says that the friendship fell apart over the next year or two, & it wasn't because they lived in different cities, as her other friendships like that worked. She said the main reason was that Cindy's mental illness scared her. Ms. Yeager wrote that she's thought of trying to find Cindy to see if she got help & her life turned out okay-but she never has because she has so many positive, healthy friendships now & therefore takes "the coward's way out" and does nothing. What I thought was helpful was that some readers might relate to how scary & problematic it is to learn that a friend is suicidal. But mostly I found the story, as told, a little disturbing. The author is a PhD Sociologist now-not a layman about mental health issues. I'm wondering why a professional is still a "coward" about this incident. I also noticed that she calls the many other friendship incidents in the book "betrayals," but in her own story, she describes her behavior toward her friend as merely "insensitive" and probably typical. In so many of the other stories, she analyzes what childhood problems may have led to the betraying actions in the friendships, but in her own story she leaves it at "I wonder what happened to Cindy?" I'm not suggesting that the author must analyze her own reaction in this example from her life, but it strikes me as odd because she does so in so many of the other stories. I wondered why she didn't end her story about her suicidal friend by suggesting to readers what basic things to do when a friend talks of suicide, without becoming enmeshed yourself--the author is a PhD Sociologist. I found the book encouraging & validating in it's message of not letting destructive friendships continue bringing unhappiness & problems into your life, but there was too little insight into navigating through problems; and to me, the author seems to be justifying her own unintentional betrayal of her friend, which really gives me pause.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2008

    An Amazing Resource for Friends of All Kinds

    In this digital age, where human contact and personal, lasting relationships must withstand the pulls of virtualization through MacBooks, Iphones, and Blackberries, real friendship has taken on a whole new level of importance. In her book WHEN FRIENDSHIP HURTS, Dr. Jan Yager advises on how to make the best of companionships, whether they are between best, close, or casual friends, or just acquaintances. She brings up an excellent point about confidentiality and how it is easier to maintain between two individuals than among a large group of friends. Her discussion of high school cliques really addresses the woes of the younger generation, and could certainly be useful to parents of teenagers as well. She also talks about professional relationships to reach out to those of all ages in the working world. I found many of Dr. Yager¿s points about friendship to be issues I have noticed in my own life but never really thought to explore. She is right on with the cons of ¿triangle friendships,¿ and how you know you truly care about somebody when genuine happiness overrides jealousy in a situation when he or she succeeds. Dr. Yager handles jealousy particularly well by explaining some of its possible origins, as well as noting that while a small amount can reasonably exist between friends, too much is potentially very harmful to a relationship. The book also contains quizzes to keep the reader actively involved and allow them to think about the book in light of their personal lives. A large portion of Dr. Yager¿s book directly advises readers on how to distinguish a healthy relationship from a destructive one and how to deal with many of matters threatening to tarnish a friendship. She discusses different ways to deal with change, depression, and the qualities of sensitivity, negativity, and perfectionism. I know I could personally benefit from the ¿IBB¿ or ¿Interest-Based Bargaining¿ model, which suggests phrasing sentences in the best possible way to achieve what you want in a specific friendship situation. Overall, I found Dr. Yager¿s book thoughtful, well-researched, realistic, and applicable to anybody who has friends or is planning on making some in their lifetime. She covers all the bases and analyzes every possible aspect and situation. With poignant examples, detailed descriptions, and wonderful advice, Dr. Yager educates us on the qualities of relationships worth keeping, as well as the signs that a tie needs to be broken. Nobody wants a rotten friendship. Life is just too short.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    How do You Spell Relief? This book

    If a cherished friend in your life has, for no apparent reason, changed his/her caring attitude toward you and and seems to no longer deeply value your relationship (or value it at all), then justify reading this book for that reason alone. In fact, grab hold of it for dear life. You can't judge a book by its cover? Nonsense. The cover and title of this book, When Friendship Hurts, spells it out accurately in black and white. It's all here. Were you aware, for example, that 'playing it safe' and not confronting your friend's pain-inflicting behavior, (but rather rationalizing it), may eliminate your friend's motivation to change? And not only is your making up excuses for your friend unwittingly causing you to put up with behaviors in your friend that should be unacceptable, but your friend is missing out on your sincere, heartfelt disapproval, which could actually be a helpful eye-opener to her and a catalyst for positive change. Enjoy this (paraphrased) example and a wealth of similarly insightful expert advice on the gift of God called friendship, from a compassionate author who has devoted her life's work to the cause.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2002

    How Friends Affect Your Self-Image

    The author¿s first book on friendship, ¿Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives¿ was an eye opener. Most of us just take our friends for granted. Her second book on friendship, ¿When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal With Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You,¿ covers a aspects of relationships that have really affected our lives from kindergarten on and that have had an impact on our self-images. What we think of ourselves, Dr. Jan Yager points out, has a lot to do with what our friends think of us. I learned a lot about the possible causes of negative friendships as well as why someone might put up with them. She shows her readers to seek out positive friendships instead of the destructive kind. Anyone who reads this book will never look at their friendships the same way again. Bravo. Enthusiastic Reader from New Jersey

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Hey ......... Please Read and help me give me some advice if you do not mind

    Hey does anybody wanna lend me this book?. It sounds like a really good book and I believe tht I need to read because I just ended one of my friendships Saturday and we WERE sisters. Thanks Nook friends
    - Jasmine Gaddis

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2011

    Wonderful, thought-provoking, and an overall great read!

    WHEN FRIENDSHIP HURTS is an instructive and straight-forward guide to dealing with friendship's disappointments, betrayals, and mishaps; it teaches the reader how to understand, accept, learn from, and move on from the curve balls of relationships. Furthermore, what I found truly amazing about WHEN FRIENDSHIP HURTS is the author, Jan Yager's, ability to encourage the reader to analyze the situation and salvage the relationship if possible (and, of course, not harmful--physically and emotionally). Dr. Yager's value of friendship shines through WHEN FRIENDSHIP HURTS and her book taught me to learn to have faith in the goodness of a friendship, even if it has faded or ended dramatically. I myself have recently undergone the ending of a close friendship and found that Dr. Yager's book particularly struck a chord for me: not only has it taught me how to deal with the ending of this relationship, but also how to enrich and strengthen the positive friendships I presently have, as well as how to begin more helpful friendships in the future--and to get better at spotting the bad ones before investing too much into them. I highly recommend WHEN FRIENDSHIP HURTS if you're looking for a thought-provoking and insightful book that will help you to deal with friendship conflicts.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An insightful, highly informative and self-esteem boosting book

    Chapter 1
    Dr. Yager, in the first chapter approaches the subject of what a friend is with detailed descriptions of the many different types of friendships there are. She answers the question of "What is a friend?" by breaking friendships down into four basic elements: That it is "between at least two persons who are unrelated by blood, it is optional or voluntary, it is not based on a legal contract and it is reciprocal" (10). The author then provides detailed analyses of friendships based not only on these tenants but also on other elements of friendship that seem to be popularly accepted such as trust, honesty, confidentiality and commonality to name a few. She uses the personal experiences that she has collected through interviews with people about the dynamics of friendship.
    She also uses these personal experiences to qualify the different types of friendships- casual friends, close friends and best friends. She gives detailed descriptions of the typical expectations surrounding each type of friends. As a psychologist Dr. Yager uses her expertise to explain these types of friendships and the potential each of them has to be both beneficial and destructive. Yager also deals with cyber friendships and the pros and cons of these relations and provides expert tips on how to approach these relationships. This chapter is a very helpful tool for identifying what types of relationships one is engaged in and how to make these friendships as mutually beneficial as possible.
    Chapter 3
    Chapter three of When Friendship Hurts provides insightful, expert advice on how to deal with harmful friendships. It does this by answering the title question: What is really going on? What is lying under the surface that may be leading these friends to betrayal? Dr. Yager really brings her expertise into the picture in this chapter as she helps readers analyze difficult issues such as jealousy, deep-seated anger, guilt, depression, denial, and change to name a few. The author assures the reader that while one does have the choice of maintaining a harmful friendship and working through the harmful issues or ending a friendship that is not possible to maintain, friends cannot be mistaken for therapists or mental health care professionals. That while understanding the underlying reasons for a friend's harmful behavior is very important and will help one cope with the betrayals experienced from these harmful friends, simply having this understanding cannot substitute for formal training in psychology, psychiatry or any of the various mental health professions.
    Personally I found this chapter to be extremely helpful because of my deep-seated issues with repressing anger. This book has thus inspired me to do better while also helping me keep my eyes open to avoid harmful friends who may have problems worse than my own.
    Chapter 5
    This chapter focuses on what friends can do to try to save the friendship. Readers who use this book to understand harmful friendships and to cope with them absolutely need to heed the empowering advice found in Chapter 5. At the beginning of the chapter, Dr. Yager provides nine mediation techniques the experts typically use to resolve conflicts between friends. These insightful tips really work!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2010

    An outstanding book on a vital subject by an excellent researcher, friendship expert, and writer.

    When Friendship Hurts" is an informative and analytical self-help title written by an accomplished friendship researcher. This book, which is a follow-up to the author's previous popular book on the nature of friendship, Friendshifts, addresses such often ignored topics as ending harmful friendships, the nature of such particular relationships as those in the workplace or online, and harmful behavioral patterns in friendship. For me, the most appealing element of the book is its analysis of the underlying causes of malignant attachments to others. "When Friendship Hurts" is highly recommended to anyone who is in search of answers to questions about harmful and even those who are seeking to gain a better understanding of positive friendships.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An Excellent Guide for Choosing Friends

    In this book, Dr. Jan Yager carefully guides you through the many stages of friendship that are so necessary for a healthy and balanced life. She explains friendships of every sort, from the casual acquaintance to the coveted best friend for life. She also tells you how to cultivate and maintain these precious relationships but most important, how to avoid those pseudo friendships that could become toxic to your life. This book should be a basic in your library along with a good cookbook and an etiquette book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    It's OK to end a 'friendship'

    During the last few years I've had several friendships end . . . and friendships I question the value in continuing. I've been doubting my own judgement and standards regarding my friends (or 'friends' as the case may be!). This book aims to help readers understand why they select 'bad' friends, and also ease embarassment related to failed friendships. The author talks about the motivation behind some of the actions of 'friends.' Readers are reassured that it's OK to end friendships. The book includes valuable information for parents, for evaluating their kids' friedships to see if they're negative or harmful to the kids. After reading this book, I understand at least a little more what's behind the actions of former friends, and I know that cutting off the hurtful, negative friendships was the right thing for me to do.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2007

    Inspirational

    This is the handbook for those who need guidence in dealing with life's spiteful people who betray your confidence.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2007

    A Discussion of Friendship That's Well Worth Reading

    Painstakingly researched and annotated, Jan Yager adroitly translates the psychology of friendships ¿ both healthy and unhealthy ¿ in clear understandable style. In one of her studies she determined that over two-thirds of the participants had been betrayed by someone they considered a friend, which is why she wrote the book. The stages of reaction and recovery mimic those of the five stages of grief but with somewhat different alternatives. Sometimes you may wish to continue a friendship from a distance if the person benefits you in some way. Sometimes you may need to turn the figure around and look at what you might have done. I read this book on a plane ride to a reunion with two very long-term friends who grew up with me and lived on the same street. (A canceled flight and misrouted luggage provided ample review time) As kids, our small group walked to school, came home for lunch, and ran in a pack. We added members as they moved in and out and stayed out long after dark playing hide and seek. The whole neighborhood knew us and kept our parents posted. Our lives took different paths and locations, but we remain friends. It¿s curious since we are now all retired that we have reunited twice now for vacations and will likely do so again. I read to them the twenty-one characteristics of destructive friendships. Each of us could put one or more names with most characteristics, but it was usually a relative or someone with whom we worked. Our conclusion was that those who commit any of the destructive behaviors were never friends at all.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2005

    enthusiastic reader

    All of us can learn something from this insightful book because we've all had a friend hurt or betray us even in just a minor way. I found the chapter that outlines 21 types of potentially negative friends especially helpful. The chapter on if a friendship can be saved and how to save it also helps to make sense of complicated, emotionally charged broken friendships. The author treats the issues with sensitivity and expertise.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2005

    Something for EVERYONE!!

    Recently, my Book Club read 'When Friendship Hurts' by Jan Yager. This wonderful, user friendly book sparked an animated and lengthy discussion amongst our group of ten women. We were able to use the author's own guide at the back of the book----and there was so much comfort for all. To understand that so many situations that we experience in our relationships HAVE an explanation---and often a solution--- was so helpful. I highly recommend this to everybody---buy the book, keep it nearby---read it again and again---it's a wonderful reference and it will be very soothing......Two thumbs up, Dr. Yager!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    good reading and very thorough.

    the book cover almost all of the areas concerning friends and friendships. it could have included some personal experinces and focused more on the positive aspects of friendships. it is basically cut and dry.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2003

    excellent book at anytime in a friendship..

    This book has helped me discover all types of behaviors that any friend or not a friend can give to you. This book gives intelligent answers and outlooks on how to deal with a friendship breakup. I have been helped so much by reading it. I really liked Chapter 9 Where to go from here. Getting over a best friend is very hard to do and this book has Helped me greatly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2003

    help!!!!!!911

    a voracious reader that i am , i was unable to get to read this book due to the paucity of such facilities in india.the problem is that i am having a problem and i would like everynoe to help me .four different background boys of around 15 are in a boarding school faraway from home and they become good friends and then one goes astray and perhaps for no reason stops talking to one of them and then the group breaks ,ultimately,the next year they join and the person who stopped talking gave a gift to the person he didnt talk and the latter came adn apopgised and then again they started this unhealthy silence. i believe i want to become his friend but then i feel so shy and so funny to talk ,and he seems so unbothered ,but i think he wants to become my freind from his heart ,so how do we patch up ,although the both of us are very shy and greagarious. please mail yuor help to tentash2002@hotmail.com

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2002

    An Uplifting Book About Friendship Change, Loss, & Formation

    In her newest book,"When Friendship Hurts," Dr. Jan Yager talks to the reader about topics not often discussed in the friendship literature: the tulmultuous nature of the relationships we sometimes have with our friends. It was a book waiting to be written, and is a welcome companion volume to Dr. Yager's first book on friends, "Friendshifts." In a caring and conversational tone, Dr. Yager combines research, storytelling, common sense,and insight to create a narrative that the reader can identify with at every turn of the page. This is a book that is difficult to put down, even for a moment. Read this book and discover the people you should avoid as friends, how to save a fading friendship, and how to let go of a friendship that has grown unhealthy. I recommend this book to anyone who has gone through a friendship crises. It would also be a valuable sourcebook for those in the helping professions whose clients are dealing with friendship issues. And for college professors in social work, psychology, sociology, education, and couseling who need a well written, well researched textbook for your courses on human relationships: this is the book for you. "When Friendship Hurts" will be one book your students will not be returning to the bookstore at the end of the semester. It is that powerful and spiritually uplifting.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2002

    A Powerful Read!

    I highly recommend this book which is jam packed with thoroughly researched and absolutely compelling information about friendship when it is negative, destructive or hurtful. The author, a sociologist and renowned friendship expert, delves into the who's,what's and why's of friendships that do us harm. By helping us to explore our own motivations, conflicts and needs, (as well as gaining insight into others' motivations, conflicts and needs), Dr.Yager offers suggestions and advice on how to correct, how to avoid, and how to know when to end negative friendships. We also expand our knowledge of how to nuture, foster and find, positive, life affirming friendships. A fascinating chapter on early family relationships describes how unresolved issues from our childhood may crop up in adulthood to sabotage our friendships. For instance, if we were subjected to a pattern of emotional, sexual or verbal abuse as children, we may have low self esteem and subconsciously seek out persons who perpetuate that same kind of negativity toward us simply because it's familiar ground. Realization of such conflicts can help us find ways to heal in order to have healthier, more rewarding friendships. Another chapter describes and dissects the psyche of 21 kinds of negative friends such as the 'fault finder', the 'double crosser', the 'controller', the 'bloodsucker', the 'taker' and the 'cheat'. Intriguing reading about people you may recognize from your own life! This book is filled with personal anecdotes from real people telling their stories of betrayal, abandonment and pain, caused by negative, hurtful friendships. These are scrutinized, and thorougly explored, leading the reader to a deeper understanding of the complexities of negative friendship experiences and their impact on our lives. One of the most impressive things about the book is its' complete coverage of harmful friendship relationships and occurrences. (Even one bad episode, such as a friendship ending without one's ever knowing why, can be devastating) Internet friendships, work friendships, new and old friendships, co-ed friendships, group friendships, casual and intimate 'best friend' friendships, are painstakingly examined. The author offers intelligent, practical suggestions for making the best of friendship in our lives and offers a roadmap for freeing ourselves of destructive friendships. WHEN FRIENDSHIP HURTS is a powerful and fantastic book. I love it!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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