Are Your Annoying Friends Making You Physically Ill?

Illustration for article titled Are Your Annoying Friends Making You Physically Ill?

We all have those friends who are competitive or are constantly causing drama for one reason or another. It's tempting to just put up with them, but a new study has found that conflicts with those kinds of people could actually be irritating you physically—as in causing your immune system to fire up. This leads to your body to become inflamed, a state which has been associated with things like cancer and diabetes.


The study investigated whether stress from personal conflicts or sports competitions would cause the body to release cytokines, which are molecules linked to inflammation. The researchers saw cytokine levels rise after negative interactions like arguments, but people's cytokine levels did not rise when they were playing a competitive sport. Co-author psychology professor Shelley Taylor explains the consequences of her findings, "What this tells me is that people should be investing in socially supportive relationships, and they should not court relationships that lead to a great deal of conflict."

It's probably a lot more complicated than that, but let's just take this for what it's worth: a good excuse to break up with your obnoxious friends and suspend contact with irritating workmates. No one will be able to argue with your scientific reasoning.

As luck would have it, the New York Times has also just offered up a hideously detailed explanation of how to dump your friends when the need arises. It takes them a remarkable three pages to conclude what we all already know: The easiest way to put a friendship out of its misery is to just let it slowly fade away with a series of declined invitations, severed social network ties, and unreturned texts. But if you really need to do a direct, in-person execution, the Times points you to the advice of psychologist Erika Holiday, who is totally legit because she's been on Dr. Phil:

Schedule a time where you can sit down with them. It's not about putting the other person down, but telling them, "You don't fit into my life, you're not on same path as me."

But the great thing is that now you don't even need to do the bit about fitting into your life, you can just say, "I'm sorry we can't hang out anymore, but studies have shown you make me sick." And with those magic words your toxic friendship will most certainly be dead, and you can live healthily ever after.

Study shows how stress triggers immune system [USA Today]
It's Not Me, It's You [New York Times]


Image via Everett Collection/Shutterstock.



I'm reasonably sure my irritating co-workers are making me sick. It's a shame that one or two bad apples have to spoil the bunch.