Nina*, self proclaimed selflove guru, has failed to recognise any of her friendships as toxic.

“You’re not the only one to go through this,” she says to Issy, a friend whose boyfriend is emotionally abusive. “I’ve had my fair share of crappy friendships too.”

Nina’s selflove message has spread like wildfire across social media; her selflove posts often sit with over 100k likes and upvotes on Instagram. She told us about how selflove helped get her out of depression after the death of two friends in car accidents within 6 months of each other. Yet when asked if she would ever stop hanging out with anyone who wasn’t supportive of her selflove journey, she said no.

“That wouldn’t be selfloving now would it?” she laughed.

We asked Dr Loretta if selflove could ever be used as an excuse for toxic friendships or behaviours, and what the difference was between selfloving actions and selfdestructive ones. “There is nothing selfdestructive about selflove,” she said. “If anything it can motivate you to cut out negative people because they’re not aligned with your values.”

“But Nina’s posts inspire me to act selfloving whenever I feel down!” Issy protested. “Why should I ditch her when she makes me feel better?”

Dr Loretta suggested that Issy re-evaluate why Nina makes her feel better before deciding whether to stay friends with her or not:

“Just because something makes you feel better in the moment, that doesn’t mean it’s selfloving.”

“Is selflove just a trend?” we asked Dr Loretta. “Or can selflove really transform your life and friendships for the better?

Dr Loretta replied: “Selflove is not just a trend; selfcare is selfloving – whether that’s having regular catchups with friends or partaking in meditation. If anything selfdestructive behaviour is the trend: spending money you don’t have and dealing with credit card debt, pressuring yourself to lose weight so thin people will like you… Selflove isn’t about letting go of standards and doing whatever makes you happy when the mood takes you; self-betrayal is selfdestructive; selflove means selfcare and selfcare means self-responsibility.”

So there you have it. Friendships might make you feel good in the moment but selflove is about self-responsibility and selfcare. It’s a choice to be with people who want the best for you, not what makes them look better or feel more validated by association. If that sounds like something you’d like from your friendships, then do yourself a favour and start having real catchups. [And if toxic behaviours are becoming an issue in your friendships, speak to Dr Loretta!].

I’m not sure if I agree with some of the points made, specifically that self-betrayal is selfdestructive. Self-betrayal can lead to selfdestruction, but it doesn’t have to be one or the other – self love isn’t black and white! It’s about balance within ourselves first and foremost, not putting pressure on ourselves to be selfless all the time at the expense of our needs sometimes. True self love requires self awareness which includes knowing what your needs are and how to fulfill them.

Another point I disagree with is selflove being selfcare and selfcare self-responsibility. While self love IS self responsibility, self care can be about looking after yourself in many ways, whether that’s through friendships or other relationships such as the one you have with yourself. The difference isn’t necessarily in what it means to take care of yourself, but rather how these different relationships contribute to your overall wellbeing.

Lastly, I agree 100% that self love isn’t a trend i.e something that comes and goes like fads and for this reason it’s important we understand its true meaning (which is easy enough to do by simply looking up the word!). It’s wonderful Dr Loretta shared her opinion – it helps us become more aware. I’m happy self love is becoming more recognised, but I’d like to see the focus steered away from self love being selfcare which ultimately places self responsibility on you alone. We all need people in our lives who encourage us to be selfless sometimes and it takes a strong person to do that for themselves when they most need it! I think this is where self care comes in – self care supports self love by making sure we look after ourselves amidst our relationships which make up how we live our lives day-to-day. Self care isn’t just about looking after yourself when you feel bad or sad, or when things are tough! It’s not always inconvenient, but rather often easy enough to incorporate into your day-to-day life with.

I hope this article has been helpful to those of you who are finding yourselves struggling with toxic friendships. If you require help or support, please do not hesitate to leave a comment down below!

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