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.
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.
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.
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!