Having a group of friends whom you can count on for love and support is a necessity in life. These people are not only there for the fun times, but they also have a significant impact on improving our lives.
However, not all friendships can last as healthy relationships. Sometimes, your friends can cause you frequent stress and increased vulnerability that is detrimental to your well-being. When this happens, you should recognize the signs of a toxic friendship and part ways with these people for the better.
People, no matter how smart, successful, and savvy, find it impossible to break up with their toxic jobs, relationships, and friends. — Yoon Kane Ph.D.
Are You In A Toxic Friendship?
It’s normal for friends to have fights and misunderstandings now and then. After all, we’re only human. However, certain red flags tell whether your relationship is doing you more harm than good.
The first sign of a toxic friendship is the sense of dread when you’re around them. You get stressed out and weighed down by the idea of meeting up or talking to them. Instead of being excited to hang out, you dislike who you become in their company.
Another red flag is the imbalance in the relationship. Do you feel like you’re giving more time to them, but they don’t care about yours? Do you always talk about them, but they can’t spare a second to listen to you? If yes, then that may mean that you’re not getting as much as you’re giving to your friends.
In the painful cycle of relational abuse, the abuser/user has the power to convince the relational partner that they actually “deserve” the poor treatment. When a person experiences the cycle of abuse long enough, she or he may grow to believe that their behaviour is to blame for the toxicity in the relationship. — Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.
You may also feel that the agreements you make are unfair and that it only makes you feel used. In this case, assess whether your friend is manipulating you to do things that you’re uncomfortable with doing.
Lastly, you get a gut feeling that they shouldn’t be trusted. Maybe it’s because your friends always judge and criticize your actions and decisions. Or perhaps they’re not careful with their words, making you insecure and hateful toward yourself. Remember, while constructive comments help improve yourself, you have to draw the line when it’s too much.
A friendship that started with delight, good will, confidences and closeness changes – maybe slowly and quietly, maybe tumultuously – and is beginning to feel toxic. And you find yourself wondering whether there’s anything to be done but walk away. — Kathy McCoy Ph.D.
Leaving a toxic friendship is a painful process, but you should do it for the sake of your overall health. While you recover, consider these tips to help you get back on your feet.
- Practice self-care. You may feel guilty or even angry at yourself for being in that mess, but it’s not your fault. Allow yourself to feel bad, but don’t let it get the best of you. Instead, fight those bad feelings by treating yourself with fun activities and good food.
Spend time with other friends. Instead of dwelling on that negative part, shift your focus to your healthy relationships. Take note of the people who truly value you and stick to them. Those friends are the types that can help you heal in your dark moments.
- Don’t expect apologies. You may end up feeling more hurt when your former friend doesn’t own up to his/her mistake. Try your best to keep that chapter of your life behind you and move on.
- There is no need to keep in touch. By ending your contact with each other, it will be easier for both of you to let go and heal. If you feel like you need to have the last conversation, keep it clean and short. Then, clarify the intentions behind your decision to discontinue your contact. Remember, you don’t need to explain yourself. Avoid arguments as much as possible.
- Get help. If your toxic friendship had been too much for you, consider reaching out to a therapist.
Ending a friendship is painful. But if all it did was hurt you and make you hurt yourself, it’s not cruel. You are liberating yourself to find better friendships.