How To Deal With A Toxic Friendship
Is your friend healthy to have in your life anymore? Time to evaluate if your "Best Friends Forever" necklaces still hold up.
Everyone always focuses on romantic relationships but friends are just as important to the happiness of your life. However, some friends in your life may start to feel just as exhausting as being in a shitty relationship. We don’t like to think about having to break it off with any of our friends but sometimes those relationships affect our mental wellbeing and even health. Here are some signs that your friend is as Toxic as that Britney Spears single and how to go about fixing or phasing out the friendship.
Signs Of A Toxic Friendship
Is your friend toxic or just going through a hard time? Every situation is a little different, but experts identify some of the following as toxic behaviors. If you feel like your friend is frequently doing one or more of these, it’s time to evaluate if the relationship is worth the consequences.
You Hide Your Success
When you get a big promotion, your friend should be one of the first people breaking out the champagne. But if you feel like you can’t celebrate your successes with a friend, that is a problem. Cherie Burbach, author and relationship specialist, says to, “Pay attention to those little nudges you get emotionally, the ones that make you pause before sharing good news with a friend.” If someone can’t be happy for the accomplishments in your life, why do you want them around?
Possible Fix: Susan Shapiro Barash, author of Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships, says women “see themselves as mirror images of each other” and when one person suddenly has a life change, the other thinks there isn’t enough opportunity for them also. If this seems to be more the case, Barash recommends helping them recognize you’re both individuals whose success and failures are going to be different from one another over your lifetime.
You Feel Like You Are Their Audience
If your friend is constantly monologuing to you like a Shonda Rhimes character, it may be time to ask yourself why they don’t value your input. Naturally, people feel passionate about issues and may talk more about some than others. But your friendship should be a two-way street, even in your conversations. At the end of the day, a key feature of a toxic friendship is that the friend believes their needs come before yours.
They Are A Bad Influence
Having a Zach Galifianakis Hangover type of friend in the wolf pack seems like fun, but in real life that friend is toxic. This is the friend who tells you it’s fine to drive home drunk because it’s not that far or is forcing you to hang out with people you’ve just met when you feel bad vibes. Relationship expert Andrea Syrtash encourages you to ask yourself why they are dragging you onto their crazy train. She points out the reason can be that, “Sometimes toxic people like to bring you into unhealthy behaviors so that they feel less guilty or ashamed of their actions.
You Are Their Therapist
One of the roles that a good friend provides is someone to give us advice or a shoulder to cry on when things get rough. At the same time, if you feel like you are their only emotional rock that is not healthy for either of you. Dr. Irene S. Levin, author of Best Friends Forever points out a needy friend can rob you of your time and emotional energy. Notice if your friend needs you for ALL decisions, big and small. This may be worth salvaging though, with Barash saying you can try to empathize with your friend by pointing out how when you had a similar tough situation you were able to make it through.
You Get Physical Symptoms
If you are getting a headache, cramps, or sweats right before you are supposed to hang out with your friend, your body is telling you something you shouldn’t ignore. It’s not in your head, either. Levine says this phenomenon is your way of sensing that the relationship is doing more harm than good.
How To Dump A Toxic Friend
Okay, so you identified that your friend is like gluten for a celiac. How do you deal with either addressing the situation or saying goodbye? There are three ways to move forward with altering or ending the relationship you can try.
Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of The Friendship Fix, says boundaries should be specific if the issue is specific. If you can identify a habit that is causing a rift in your friendship, letting them know why it can’t be a part of your life as often can help them realize they are even doing it. If there is a more general feeling of toxicity, your boundaries can also be more general, too.
Phasing Out The Friendship
Sometimes you can sort of just tell the friendship is ending its course and it seems too much work to address a specific concern and too aggressive to formally break it off. In this case, just cut back on your communication. Bonoir warns that this really only works in a world where both parties are moving in different directions. Ghosting when it’s one-sided often just leads to the other party being more aggressive about trying to hang out and will cause you more stress.
We Need To Talk
If you set boundaries and they were broken or you aren’t naturally moving apart, you may have to have The Talk. This is especially necessary if you think your friend would be surprised or caught off-guard to hear you don’t want to be friends anymore. If you can, have the conversation in person in a public place. Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., author of Toxic Friendships: Knowing the Rules and Dealing with Friends who Break Them, says to use “I” statements and make the break-up more about your needs than their failings. Also, if you share friends, be mature but know that not everyone is going to be chill about a friend break-up. Trust yourself enough to know what you are doing is right for you but know that doesn’t mean everyone else will be okay with it. Ultimately, you need a strong group of friends around you. Once any drama blows over from a friend break-up, you will have one fewer person in your life not serving you in a healthy way.