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Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships Hardcover – October 13, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For her latest book on women's relationships, Barash (Tripping the Prom Queen), who teaches gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College, interviewed 200 women of assorted backgrounds and ages, and found that women's friendships are not the bed of roses that popular culture makes them out to be. While highly valued by women, friendships tend to be difficult, draining and sometimes devastating. For example, 65% stay friends with a woman who is difficult in some way, and 80% say they are competitive with their female friends. This ambivalence leads to paradoxical behavior such as clinging to a shallow Trophy Friend, one of 10 types of friends Barash analyzes. Others include the Leader, the Doormat, the Sacrificer and the Authentic Friend. While she can appear glib and one must wade through all the depressing—though juicy—stories to get to the good friends, Barash skillfully channels her interviewees' experiences and convinces that these real and raw friendships are the norm: When it comes to the glittering prizes of life, women congregate, even if there are undercurrents of envy, jealousy, and competition in the relationships. (Oct. 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

SUSAN SHAPIRO BARASH is the author of ten previous books, and teaches gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College. As a wellrecognized gender expert, she is frequently sought out by newspapers, television shows, and radio programs to comment on women’s issues. She lives in New York City.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312386397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312386399
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,386,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By BKSchroeder on November 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While this book does a thorough job of describing many types of dysfunctional friendships, I was hard pressed to figure out the prescribed "antidote" other than to find an authentic friendship. Well, good luck with that. I was hoping for some tips on extricating oneself from a toxic friendship and ways to find the ones worth keeping and treasuring. The book did not deliver on these expectations.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Niki Collins-queen, Author VINE VOICE on July 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Susan Shapiro Barash's book "Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships" looks at the bonds and the bondage of female friendships. She divides friends into three categories: Those we tolerate, those we ditch and those we keep.
Friends we tolerate or romanticize are "The Leader" - it's all on her terms, "The Doormat" - she has little identity of her own, "The Sacrificer" - she needs to be needed and "The Misery Lover - she wants to feel your pain.
Friends we ditch, also called "trial by fire" are "The User" - the self-serving friend, "The Intimate Frenemies" - she idolizes and despises you and "The Trophy Friend" - you represent an advantage socially or at work.
Friends we keep or have potential are "The Mirroring Friend" - you have a circumstantial bond, "The Sharer" - a best friend in the making, "The Authentic Friend" - the real deal. She is empathetic, faithful and knows her bounds.
Barash not only helps us better understand the power of "sisterhood" and how to nurture it but also sheds light on those who do not have our best interest at heart.
Unfortunately, Barash's fascinating book does not go far enough. When a relationship turns toxic it's important to ask, "What's my part in this?" "Why did I choose this person?" and "Why am I hanging on to the friendship even when I know it's destructive?" It takes two to tango in a toxic relationship.
Many of us choose friends and mates based on unfinished business with our parents. Toxic relationships give us an opportunity to identify and resolve unfinished issues. Once I saw my pattern of picking emotionally unavailable female friends I realized I was seeking the validation and approval I'd not received from my mother.
We naturally attract authentic friends when we become one.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Segal on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
THIS BOOK BELONGS IN EVERY MODERN DAY WOMAN'S BOOKCASE. No matter what age you may be, a teenager muddling through some of the toughest years of your life, a 20 or 30 something trying to make choices that could effect the rest of your life, or a mature woman who's enjoying the fruits of having lived a long and successful life, we all go through through each of these stages surrounded by and depending on our friends. But as all of us know, not all of these friendships are easy.

The categories of types of friendships that are outlined in Susan Shapiro Barash's TOXIC FRIENDS: THE ANTIDOTE FOR WOMENT STUCK IN COMPLICATED FRIENDSHIPS have certainly helped to answer some of my questions about my most important friendships: how they work, why sometimes there's conflict, and if they're really worthy of the importance I ascribe to them.

Most importantly, this book helped me to identify the kind of friend I am. It has helped me to see where I could have been more supportive to someone I love, when I was being used for my kindness and generosity, and when I might have been better off saying goodbye to a hurtful friend

I truly believe that this book can uncover truths about ourselves, our friends, the the relationships between them that we really need to know but might not ever have ever seen.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By lilacrose on February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll keep this short. I was hoping this would help me understand a toxic relationship I am in and how to remove myself from it. It did nothing to help me. I felt that I was reading about all the movies the author has seen in her lifetime to exemplify toxic friends. I was having way too many "What the??? moments. I am glad the book was inexpensive. It wasn't too much of a waste of money.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Laserone on November 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I downloaded the Kindle sample of this book, as I do for every book before I buy it. The Kindle sample included ONLY a questionnaire. How am I supposed to know if this book is any good before I buy it? That is a major flaw and I'm Not going to Purchase a book without "flipping through it" first.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sistina on July 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book seems it was meant most for older women who struggle with identifying who true friends are. It also solely focuses on normative women-to-women friendships and does not mention any other gender dynamics. It gives some common sense analysis on female friendships by classifying a few simple types of friendships, and ranking/comparing them in terms of how genuine the friendship is. The book contains many accounts of other womens' friendships, how they behave with certain friends, and -briefly- how they've dealt with problems.
It does not really offer more insight into complicated friendships at all, which I was hoping to get out of it the most. Instead it mainly seems to suggest that certain friendships are more genuine than others and worth holding on to. It does not clearly outline the "toxicities" of certain friends, nor identify methods of dealing with these relationships. Mostly it just helps you think about your own dynamics with your friends and encourages you to look at your situations objectively.

More can be learned by exploring philosophy on friendship, happiness, self-esteem and ethical dilemmas. Holding on or letting go to toxic friendships is far too complex a subject for the classifications and information this book offers. As such I would not call it a singularly valuable resource.
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