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


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

ISBN13: 9780743211451
ISBN10: 0743211456
Condition: Standard
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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.

About 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.

Table of 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


Selected Bibliography



Reading Group Guide for When Friendship Hurts

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JMD, September 4, 2013 (view all comments by JMD)
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 betrayal of her friend, and that really gives me pause.
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samshimo, July 3, 2011 (view all comments by samshimo)
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.
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Super_Bookish, March 23, 2011 (view all comments by Super_Bookish)
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 2
The second chapter of this book will be particularly helpful for those who have friendships that are not mutually beneficial. It will also help every reader identify and avoid people who would be harmful before they become friends, which is the goal expressed in the chapter’s title. Dr. Yager identifies 21 harmful types of friends and provides concise, easy-to-understand descriptions of the traits these people have. In these descriptions, the author also gives advice on how to decide whether one should end one’s friendship with this person or attempt to bring these traits to his/her attention and improve them.
There are several elements that the author stresses such as the protection of one’s self-esteem and the attempt to be understanding and gentle when approaching these friends about these issues. The author places emphasis on one’s personal choice in the issue of whether to remain friends with people with these traits or not, and empowers readers to take charge of their friendships. Anyone who has ever felt hurt or betrayed by a friend in any way should read this book and will undoubtedly learn from this chapter how to distinguish between a one-time betrayal and a friend who will consistently betray their friends. The chapter even provides a self-quiz for recognizing a harmful friendship and expert advice on how to evaluate your friendship based on these quiz results.

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. After reading this book I came to realize that while I am not as harmful of a friend as some of the examples provided by the author, I do need to seriously examine my emotions and how to better express anger in order to be a better friend. I have done so by entering a counseling program. 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 4
Chapter four deals with the issues that have affected the one who chooses harmful friends in his/her past such as abuse in the family. It is an unfortunate reality that people fall into patterns of continuing abuse in their lives, that if they were abused in their family life as a child, they will attract friends who will harm them in similar ways. Dr. Yager walks the reader through the reasons for this and recommends means of recovery. “Change how you deal with the underlying issues from your childhood, change how you see yourself and how you react to people, and you will start making different friendship choices” (105).
Any reader who has experienced and/or still experiences negative familial relationships would benefit greatly from this chapter and this book in understanding how negative relationships in the past must be coped with in order to change how one makes friends in the present. Dr. Yager continues to encourage readers to develop the ability to cope with these harmful friendships in the next part of When Friendships Hurt.

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. Two of these that I found particularly helpful in resolving a conflict I recently had were “The IBB model” and “Listening carefully and thoughtfully.” The IBB model (interest-based bargaining model) was a new concept to me which promotes thinking through the problems that were created and discovering why they were created and how to prevent them. For an example out of the book, if I want to go to a movie but my friend has work to do, the IBB model would suggest I tell my friend that I want to go to the movie because both of us work hard, my friend may burn out without a break, and going to the movies is a fun way to spend time together (118).
Explaining reasons behind desires might prevent conflicts from arising, such as if I just insisted my friend come with me to the movies, and she felt like I was disregarding the importance of her work. The second mediation technique that I found particularly helpful was not a new concept for me, but is still very difficult to do: listening carefully and thoughtfully. Listening is necessary to make the speaker feel validated as well as the listener feel worthy. At the end of the chapter, Dr. Yager continues to emphasize the need to listen well in the section entitled “Getting Help” in which she gives expert advice on when to seek outside assistance in saving the friendship.

Chapter 6
In the case that a harmful friendship cannot be prepared, Chapter 6 provides advice on how to end the friendship and how to cope after it ends. Since these particular friends can harm one significantly, Dr. Yager emphasizes a gentle end to the friendship instead of an abrupt confrontation which may aggravate the harmful friend to the point of retaliation. The author provides detailed advice throughout the chapter and at the end of the section also summarizes this advice into four tips, such as to replace the negative friendship with a positive one once the negative friendship has been ended. Dr. Yager also provides personal reflective questions to ask oneself after ending a harmful friendship if one is obsessing over the decision. Obsessing leads to negative feelings, which prevent healthy coping and moving on. So asking the question “Why am I obsessing about this failed friendship” among other questions will help one to move on.
The chapter also deals with helping children and teens identify harmful friendships as well as coping with bullies and with ending these harmful friendships. One tip I’ve never heard from an expert before, but I did use in middle school effectively which is to turn bullies’ insults into compliments and responding with “Thank you.” This always threw off the two bullies I encountered throughout the sixth, seventh and eighth grades. It demonstrates the helpfulness that this book can offer to people of all ages.

Chapter 7
Having friends at work is sometimes difficult to manage. There are many concerns to be taken into account such as whether to develop a close or best friendship with a co-worker or to keep it casual, or how possible it is for conflicts of interest may arise. It may seem easier to simply not make any friends at work, but Dr. Yager discourages this idea saying it is a “poor alternative” (143). Friendship with co-workers can increase productivity, as well as provide a type of second family which benefits the co-workers involved. But how close is too close? Dr. Yager provides interviewees’ personal experiences to help guide readers to their own answers to this question.
Toward the end of the chapter, after tackling these issues in depth, Dr. Yager writes ten tips for having friendships at work including shunning gossip and avoiding cliques at work and eight tips for dealing with conflicts that do arise among friendships at work. As a college junior preparing to enter the business world, I found this chapter very informative and will look to it for advice in the future as well. Its contents are relevant for anyone entering a new work environment and for people who have been in one business for some time and wish to either start a friendship at work or resolve conflicts that have arisen.

Chapter 8
After reading the first seven chapters and be guided through the basics of friendship and harmful personalities, the reader comes to Chapter 8, “Finding Good Friends.” Using a 20 question quiz on friendship attunement, one can assess new people in one’s life to decide whether they would be positive friends. Dr. Yager provides a key with advice based on her expertise after the quiz questions. These questions depend on self reflection, yet again demonstrating the empowering attitude that Dr. Yager has infused in this book. The chapter also deals with reconnecting with old friends, which Dr. Yager enriches with her own experience of her high school reunion, the issue of a fear of friendship and anxiety over opposite-sex friendships.
I go to college 100 miles away from my hometown, to a university that none of my close friends from high school attend. My freshman year was thus filled with a mixture of excitement and anxiety about meeting new people and creating friendships from scratch. I found that making new friends at school was much easier than keeping in touch with my old friends, and coming home for the holidays eventually became awkward. After reading this book, and particularly this chapter, I have found that there are three particular friends I do wish to reconnect with and some others who I have decided not to pursue further based partially on the my self-reflection inspired by When Friendship Hurts. This journey of mine will be difficult, but will be aided by this book and some hard work on my part to become more reflective. One of the three friends I mentioned is a member of the opposite sex, and one of the reasons I allowed this friendship to wane is because I entered a serious romantic relationship once I went to college, and felt it inappropriate to continue this friendship. After reading this chapter and asking myself questions about my friendship in the past I came to realize that this was a rash decision which I intend to undo if possible.
As Dr. Yager concludes Chapter 8, she approaches the subject of seeking outside help to reconnect with old friends or deal with issues such as fear of friendship or choosing positive friends. There are many options for improving friendship skills, professional help being one of them, support groups being another, self-help books and many, many others. If making time for friends is a difficulty a reader faces, this chapter has an entire section devoted to it with ten tips to help make this easier.

Chapter 9
The final chapter of When Friendship Hurts concludes the books rather well. It emphasizes the need for self-respect and self-love in order to improve one’s life and friendships. It brings some of the personal accounts related in earlier chapters up to date, resolving the stories with encouragement to take control of improving one’s situation. “If your friends have been glorious, that is wonderful; build on those exemplary relationships. But if your friends have betrayed, disappointed, or hurt you, you have a fresh start” (186). An important step in this fresh start is reading this book and gleaning from it the knowledge and professional understanding that Dr. Jan Yager offers.
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Product Details

Yager, Jan
Fireside Books
New York
Conflict Resolution
Interpersonal conflict
General Psychology & Psychiatry
General Self-Help
Self-Help : General
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
July 2002
Grade Level:
8.44 x 5.5 in 7.7 oz

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Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Relationships
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