- Gender and Relationships»
Toxic Friends and How to Deal With Them
Toxic friends stress you out, use you, are unreliable, are demanding, and don't give you anything back. They also have the ability to put a negative twist on any positive within our own lives
Sad as it may be, it is important to acknowledge that there are some friendships that we are just better off without. How do friendships turn toxic and when they do, how do we deal with the situation in order to healthily move on with our lives?
To End or Persevere?
If you find yourself not wanting to share good news or bad, take note of that doubt. Question why it is that you feel unable to confide in your friend. The chances are the word 'jealous' will crop up in your answer.
Jealousy can be a painful emotion as it refers to our own sense of insecurity. It’s complex nature exposes for all to see our lack of self worth whilst encompassing many different kinds of feelings ranging from humiliation to rage. Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen once wrote “Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.”
Being a victim of a jealous friend can place a great deal of stress on an individual. If a person is feeling excited and happy, it can take just one negative comment from a toxic friend to bring her crashing back down. Once this pattern starts to emerge the jealous friend turns into a toxic friend as their words lead to frustration, depression and a lessened sense of self worth just like the perpetrator. When that happens on a consistent basis, it may be time to rethink the relationship and what influence continuing it will have on your quality of life.
Staying with a friend who is negative will have a negative effect on you but if you’re not ready to let go, work hard to be there for them. Be patient, be kind and try to understand where they’re coming from. At the very least understand that the friend’s behaviour comes from very dark place.
If it becomes draining it might be time to let go. Letting a toxic friend go doesn’t mean that you don’t care. It just means that you want to be happy. That’s why it’s so important to forgive, love, and move on when you have to because we all deserve happiness and we all have choices in order to achieve it.
The Break Up
They don’t say “breaking up is hard to do” for no reason. Ending a friendship feels so impossible because with so many negative emotions at play, it often feels easier to stay in a bad friendship -- putting up with all the negativities that it brings - because of feeling afraid of the fallout from ending it. But ending a friendship that isn't working can be done.
1. Accepting that it ‘is what it is’
The first step ending a toxic friendship is to stop justifying and rationalising the friend’s behaviours. Accepting that you can’t change the friend or their behaviour, but that you can change your own behaviour. Friendship is a choice therefore non of us have to continue spending time with someone who isn't good for us.
2. Being clear with our intentions
We should be honest when explaining to the toxic friend that there is a feeling that the friendship needs to end. It will be difficult, even more so if the friend doesn’t take the words seriously, but there should be a realisation that we owe it to ourselves, and to the to toxic friend, to make it clear that the intention is to take a step back from the friendship.
3. Identifying our own behaviour within the friendship
Try to understand whether our own behaviour has had an effect on the negative aspects of the friendship. Has our own attitude and strategy for dealing with issues fuelled the negativity coming from the friend who we feel is toxic? It maybe too late for this friendship but we could understand and deal with the issues in order to give further friendships a better chance of survival.
4. Choosing how to end it
Decide how you want to end the friendship. Do you want to abruptly and finally cut ties or try to wean away from each other. Ending the friendship will be painful but it's important to stick to our word in this because the toxic friend won't take anything seriously, enabling negativities to continue.
Forgive your toxic friend. You need to have forgiveness to finally let go so it is important you let her know and that you acknowledge it yourself. Doing this will prevent us dwelling on what has happened.
6. Give yourself time to feel the upset
Allow yourself time to grieve after the loss of a friendship because feeling sad is natural progression to moving on. There’s no way of telling how long this will last because it’s dependant on the history of the friendship, how well we can forgive and accept at has happened and how we can move on by filling the void left.
To be able to get the acceptance needed to be content means that when we think of our old friend, we can only hope that they are happy. Letting the friend go didn’t mean that we didn't care, to the contrary if the friend was able to recognie the mistakes too, it just means that we wanted to be happy ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to forgive, accept and move on because we all deserve to be happy.
Toxic friends are a reality that most people will face at least once in their lifetimes. Any breakup is likely to be painful but pain heals with time. Toxicity, on the other hand, lingers. It festers and poisons everything it touches. Learning the signs and confronting it head on might just save you from being dragged so far down in misery that you become someone else's toxic friend.
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes but that does not mean that someone can come along and play with our emotions. We don't expect to be hurt physically by another so we shouldn't expect to be emotionally hurt by another. Instead we should expect to be loved and respected but that can only happen when we love and respect ourself. Know that you deserve to be loved and respected.
Friendship is a choice.