How To Deal With Toxic Friendships

October 25, 2016
How to deal with toxic friendships when the relationship is taxing. Important read for anyone!

The falling out of friendships is one of the most challenging aspects of your social life. Sometimes, friendships end simply because of distance, life changes or external factors. Other times, friendships end because of their toxic nature. It is important to identify a toxic friendship and handle it properly.

Identifying a Toxic Friendship

The number one way to identify if you are in a toxic friendship is if the first word that comes to mind when you think of that person has a negative connotation. For example, if you think of your friend “Jennifer” and instantly think “Difficult”, that probably isn’t a good sign.
It is important to realize that that person may not be necessarily rude to make the friendship toxic. The friends who pressure you into doing things you really don’t want to do or encourage you to make decisions they know will harm you are probably not the friendships you want to nurture.
In addition, friends who talk about you behind your back or even tell you things about others that are private or rude are not people you need in your life.
If hanging out with that person brings you anxiety, fear or dread, it is time to reevaluate their company.

Distancing Yourself

The best thing to do in a toxic friendship is distance yourself. Different people feel comfortable with different levels of distance. For example, if you are in constant contact with that person, it will be quite hard to go cold turkey and stop talking to them.
That being said, if the friendship really is causing you significant mental or even physical pain, it is time to say goodbye right away.

Endless May

Having a Conversation With the Person

If you are not ready to let go or if you would rather the person know why you are distancing yourself, have an open conversation with them. Simply let him or her know that the friendship is quite taxing on you. Don’t ask that person to change but remind them that you don’t want to be surrounded with that behavior.

If that person is hurt, you have no reason to feel guilty. You are standing up for and protecting yourself.

Reevaluating The Friendship After Time

Many people try and reconnect with their old toxic friendships. However, I think this is a poor choice. If the friendship was toxic before, it is likely to be exactly the same in the future. Remember why you originally distanced yourself.

Moving On

The end of a friendship, no matter how toxic it was, can be very difficult emotionally especially if that person was a main source of support to you. Remember, there are millions of people in this world and plenty of new friendships to be had. Go out and meet new people!

Have you ever had a toxic friendship? How did you navigate it?

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  • Reply Sara October 27, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    This is a really good and helpful piece. I’ve struggled with a few toxic friendships in the last few years, and I think the hardest part is always asserting your own needs (often for space or even the end of the relationship), especially because we as women are taught to always put others first. As you said, if someone is causing you distress, it’s best to get out right away! You will meet new, better friends.

    • Reply Shannon December 14, 2016 at 7:06 am

      Thank you Sara! I completely agree. It is important (but often difficult) to stand up for yourself. I am glad you could relate to this piece! xoxo

  • Reply Lena Ameri October 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Great tips! Unfortunately some relationships are not meant to last forever. I love your tips on resolving and that sometimes you just have to move on.

  • Reply Ivy October 29, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Great post, Shannon! Couldn’t have said it any better. I’m on the introvert side so Ive only kept a small group of friends. Ive never had to remove someone from the friends circle but I know peoplr whove had a difficult time doing so. I think Im the complete opposite in that my friends have to constantly remind me to get out more and spend more time with them- which is so bad on my part 🙁

  • Reply Aurelia Paquette October 31, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    What a thoughtful and wise post, Shannon! I couldn’t have said it better.

    • Reply Shannon November 1, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Thank you Aurelia! I am glad that you liked it.

  • Reply Caitlyn November 2, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I had toxic friendships in middle school, but I didn’t recognize them at the time. Luckily I moved schools and then realized they weren’t very nice to me, and since we didn’t go to the same school anymore it was really easy to cut the ties. This is a great subject that people need to learn about!

    Caitlyn |

  • Reply Rachel Ritlop November 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    These are great tips! I’ve gone through this several times in my life but found that as I got older I was better at picking friends thankfully!

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

  • Reply jill conyers November 3, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Any toxic relationship, friend, co-worker, friend of a friend, needs to be stopped immediately. It won’t get better. I learned the hard way.

    • Reply Shannon November 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      I too have learned the hard way! It can be consuming but I hope these tips helped!:)

  • Reply Rachel December 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm


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