Having a good network of supportive friends can help you to lead a more fulfilled life and studies even show that those with supportive friends live longer and report being happier.
There is no doubt that being in the company of good friends can put a smile on your face and cheer you up on even the glummest days, but what happens when these friendships turn toxic?
Toxic friendships can occur over time or can be present right from the beginning. Sometimes it may take years to even notice that your friendship is becoming more draining than it is enjoyable.
Friends are also often given the benefit of the doubt. We all go through hard times now and again, and sometimes it can be easy to chalk their toxic ways up to their past pains or their current life situation.
But when is enough, enough? When is it time to walk away from the friendship?
Firstly, it is important to recognise the signs of a toxic friendship. Sometimes it can be hard to realise these signs because, well, they are our friends and we want to believe the best in them.
Here is what a toxic friendship may look like-
- They only reach out to you when they need or want something but the favour is rarely returned.
- You subconsciously or consciously avoid seeing them or feel a sigh of relief after they leave.
- They need you for absolutely everything and ask for advice, money or consistent support without respect for your boundaries or time.
- You are both in constant conflict with each other or there is an underlying current of tension or passive aggressiveness.
- They make mean or hurtful comments about you or make you the brunt of all their jokes.
- They put you down, belittle you or make you feel worthless, especially in front of others.
- They constantly compare themselves to you, or compete with you on things. Maybe you even find yourself doing things or hiding things to constantly please them.
- When you try to address issues with them they get defensive, are never willing to accept responsibility or turn things back on you.
- They betray your trust or share your private stories with others.
- They consistently speak badly about other friends behind their backs.
- They don’t take an active interest in your life or what you are up to and instead talk about themselves or their problems all the time.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to determining if your friendship is toxic is how you feel.
If you feel uncomfortable or if your gut feeling tells you something is off with this person, perhaps it is time to listen and stand your ground.
When dealing with toxic friends, the first thing to do is assert your boundaries. Often when you start doing this, either your friend will shift or change their ways or slowly drift away from your life altogether.
Toxic friends usually need to “feed off” others energetically, similar to an energetic vampire, so once you set boundaries and stick to them, usually the rest will take care of itself.
It is also important to remember that your friend is not a bad person or toxic to everyone, this person could just appear toxic to you because of your energy and where you are at in your own journey.
Everyone is different and everyone is following their own path and process in this life. Try not to judge and instead just focus on staying true to yourself and what you need.
Ending a toxic friendship is not about blaming the other person, it is simply a way that you are taking care of yourself and your own needs.
To end the friendship you may want to try-
- Slowly creating some distance between the two of you: toxic friendships can be difficult to end without drama. After all, often the toxic friend thrives on drama. Depending on the friendship, you may just want to start putting some distance between the two of you rather than ending things altogether. Put emphasis on hanging out with other friends and doing your own thing. Eventually overtime, this may ease the feelings of toxicity between the two of you.
- Being simply honest with them: you do not owe your friend a giant explanation as to why you want to end things, but letting them know your honest truth may be beneficial. Simply tell them how you really feel and that you need some time apart or distance. Remember, don’t let them argue with you about this. Your feelings are not up for debate.
- Energetically protecting yourself: if separating yourself from this friend is not entirely possible, you may want to use some energetic tools of protection. This includes staying positive about the situation, honouring and acknowledging your friend for who they are and understanding that there is a learning process for both of you in this. When you raise your vibration and energy, these types of people also automatically shift away from your life.
Ending a friendship can truly be as heartbreaking and as difficult as ending a romantic relationship, however if things are really getting toxic and you are feeling negative about your experience with this person, perhaps it is better to say goodbye.
Everyone comes into our life for a reason. There is a lesson in your toxic friendship for you as well, and perhaps the lesson is learning how to honor, trust and respect yourself before you can expect others to.