Recognizing a Toxic Friendship and Calling it Quits
My wedding is approximately two months away and several weeks ago, I told an old friend the decision I made regarding bridesmaids. She wasn't part of my wedding party. Silence. And then an EXPLOSION of not so kind words.
This was a friend that I've known for the last seven years. When we first met at 19, we hung out a lot, we partied a lot, and talked almost every day...it was good times. Over the last few years, we've really grown apart though and we no longer share any common interests. The few friends that we used to share don't talk to her much anymore either. I probably only see this friend once every two months or so.
After explaining to her for over an hour why I made the decision that I did (one bridesmaid is my best friend and the other is my niece) and basically refusing to add her as the "extra" bridesmaid despite her insistence, she was angry enough to tell me she will not come to my wedding and that she would be too "embarrassed" to come. She is also "indifferent" towards my wedding and does not like my fiancé. And even if I did make her my bridesmaid, she said she would participate in the glamourous activities, such as picking flowers and dresses, but she will, in no way, do any of the b***h work such as helping me make invitations.
Nice friend, eh?
After I told a few people what happened, they all told me it was about time that I stopped talking to her. And now that I think back on it...she has been a good friend, but she has also been a very bad friend. Last year, after I gave her my Christmas gift, she texted me saying that she was disappointed by what I got her. She said I didn't spend enough time on it and that she had put a lot of thought into her gift for me. It wasn't like I got her a gift from the dollar store; I give her a sweater from American Eagle! She gave me a pair of earrings (that she bought) and a Groupon to a chocolate making class, even though she knows I don't like chocolate.......Hmmmm... And later on, she tells me that she equates money with love, so it was quite obvious that she just thought that my gift was not expensive enough. I think that incident really changed my mind about who I thought she was, but at that time, I still didn't want to talk to her about our friendship.
How to recognize a toxic friendship
There were many warning signs with our friendship, but I just never recognized them. When I look back, these clues should have made me realize I needed to walk away.
- your friend takes the lead on most things and decides where both of you will go and what both of you will do
- when she calls you, it's only to talk about herself or to ask for a favour
- she will make you feel guilty/ashamed of your actions
- she demands your complete attention at her convenience and will get jealous if you start hanging out with other people or if you spend "too much time" with your significant other
- you are scared to talk to her or avoid confronting her on certain issues
- you feel like this friendship is negatively affecting other areas of your life
How to walk away
I should have walked away years ago, when she became jealous of my new boyfriend, getting angry at me for little reason at all, and demanding that I talk to her for hours at a time when it was convenient for her. However, I couldn't bring myself to actually talk to her about this. We had so much "history" together. I felt like I couldn't openly express my feelings. I felt scared that she would just explode and say awful things to make me feel guilty and ashamed for feeling this way.
For those of you who are in similar toxic friendships, the only person that can make you walk away or make you confront this person is yourself. Despite what others tell you, only you can tell yourself that you are ready to take this first step. I have to tell you though, it felt really liberating to know that I no longer have to feel fear and that I no longer have to listen to her two hour rants about herself.
It will be uncomfortable when you talk to your friend about how you feel and he/she is going to get upset, angry, vengeful, or emotional, but this is normal. You can't be in this friendship forever; it's not good or viable for anybody. There's a chance that your friend will realize that she is wrong and that she has been treating you badly, but in most cases, they won't and never will. And that's okay, this is your cue that this friendship is not salvageable and it's time to walk away. It may be hard to do that because you've been friends for a long time or you've had many good memories together. These are all great things and I'm sure you appreciate all that this person has done for you, but you cannot forget about the bad things either. Is this a true friend to you or is this a friend that is only good when it's convenient for her?
I've sent my "friend" the wedding invitation, but I have yet to hear anything from her. As far as I know, she will not be going to the wedding. That's too bad, but I won't lose sleep over it either. She is an adult and I can't make her do anything that she doesn't want to do. I would like to remain acquaintances with her, maybe even friends, but we will see what happens.