If They Won’t Rejoice With You

I’ve been reflecting on a strange paradox lately. We talk a lot about friends who will rejoice with us when times are good, but who disappear when times are bad. I think we universally agree that a friend like that isn’t a real friend. Who ghosts someone they love when they’re down on their luck? But lately, I’ve been thinking about the opposite scenario — when a friend will grieve with you when you’re down, but won’t rejoice with you when you’re up.

I’d argue that people like that really aren’t friends, either.

Why would someone want to be there when you’re in last place, but decide to vanish when you’re on the winner’s platform? It’s a question I can’t stop pondering.

Some people just can’t see us happy. Maybe it’s because they are insecure about their own accomplishments. Perhaps they get some bizarre sense of Schadenfreude out of someone else’s suffering.

Regardless of their intent, they don’t belong at your table.

Sure, when we’re down, these “friends” are there. They offer a shoulder, they pass the tissues, they share in the melancholy and the disappointment. But when fortune favors us and we start to climb up from the pit, when we begin to celebrate our victories and our joys, they’re nowhere to be seen.

Such friendships are just as toxic as fair-weather friendships, if not more so. They’re subtly corrosive, slowly eating away at our self-esteem and joy. Why? Because they’re built not on mutual respect and joy, but on one-upmanship, rivalry, or perhaps just plain old envy.

These are the people who can’t stand seeing you shine because your light somehow diminishes them. They’d rather bask in your shadows than celebrate your light. They are the emotional vampires who feed off your sorrow, and are starved by your joy.

So, what do we do about these relationships?

Start by recognizing them for what they are – toxic. Understand that these are not friendships, these are not the people who should have a seat at your table.

Your victories, your joys, and your highs are just as important as your lows. You deserve friends who will not only weather the storm with you, but also bask in the sunshine.

Remember, there’s no room for resentment in genuine friendship. Real friends elevate each other, celebrate each other’s wins, and take joy in seeing one another happy. They aren’t threatened by your success, they’re inspired by it. They not only acknowledge your light, but they also help it shine brighter.

So don’t be afraid to prune your friend garden. Weed out those who can’t revel in your wins. You don’t need that kind of negativity. Surround yourself with those who lift you higher and watch as your garden of friendship blossoms. You’re not just deserving of this kind of friendship; you’re worthy of it. Because we rise by lifting others, and that’s the mark of a true friendship.


Amber Wardell is an author and psychologist who writes about Marriage, Motherhood, and Mental Health. Subscribe to the newsletter to never miss new posts and to receive FREE exclusive content.

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