How to Deal With a Toxic Friendship (And Know When It’s Time to Move On)
Wondering if you should fix your friendship or move on? Read this.
Everyone has their off days, but if your friend is always fighting with you or feels judgmental and condescending, it could be toxic. Same with those who seem to thrive on gossip and drama, or who are self-absorbed and demanding of your attention. Or, if you have a friend who never seems to be able to meet your needs, it could be a sign you’re stuck in the cycle of a toxic friendship.
Advice for moving on from a toxic friendship
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to make a difficult friendship work, you realize that for your own mental wellness, it has to end. I’ve been there and done that a couple of times, and despite the fact that I knew I was making the healthy decision, I was blindsided by how difficult it was to let go. What’s more, I was angry at myself for feeling badly about a friend who had treated me so poorly. But with the wisdom of hindsight, I know that I should have cut myself some slack and taken the following advice:
Let go of the guilt.
It takes an enormous amount of strength and confidence to end a toxic friendship. Be proud of yourself for prioritizing your needs and your emotional well-being. Making such a decision does not make you selfish, it makes you empowered and demonstrates self-compassion.
Grieve the relationship if you need to.
Allow yourself some time to grieve after the loss of a toxic friendship. Even though you chose to end the relationship, you may still miss your friend. Surround yourself with people who love and care about you, talk about how you’re feeling and make sure to practice self-care during this tough time. Here are 10 ways to show yourself some self-love.
Be the bigger person.
Despite your best efforts to evade your ex-friend, the odds are you’ll run into each other at some point. Err on the side of civility.
Elizabeth Wiener, an educator who lives with depression and anxiety.
Questions to ask yourself
Toxic friendship can be imbalanced, unrewarding and draining. They are highly negative, one-sided relationships that can have a detrimental impact on our self-confidence and morale. If you feel that you are constantly compromising yourself for the sake of your friendship, it may be time to take a closer look and ask yourself some important questions:
Can the relationship be salvaged?
Attempt to let your friend know how you’re feeling. Be open, honest and authentic. Try to give her the benefit of the doubt; perhaps with some constructive feedback, she’ll be able to explain and make positive changes.
Have you established appropriate boundaries?
Although it may be difficult, set clear boundaries and let your friend know that specific things will have to change in order for the friendship to continue. Once you’ve established some limits, you’ll eventually learn whether or not your friend is motivated or able to make changes that can truly impact the relationship in a positive way. Don’t forget about these 8 habits that end friendships (even life-long ones).
Is it time to move on?
If you’ve expressed your needs to your friend and she continues to disappoint and prove that she is simply unable to come through for you, it’s likely time to move on. Ending this type of friendship can be challenging, but stick to your convictions and trust your instincts. Cut the relationship off cold turkey or let it fade as you consciously choose to disengage.
Lisa Brookman, a clinical psychotherapist.