Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How to Break Up with a Toxic Friend

A woman contemplates breaking up with a toxic friend
It's time to break up with your toxic friends.
Image: Shutterstock
There are many good friends you will come across in life. You know, the ones who will always pick up the phone and sing your praises when you’re not around. As we get older, many people experience their friend groups decrease in size, but the friendships they do have become more intimate. However, as friend groups continue to change, some people will encounter “frenemies” – people who use you as the butt of the joke or make you feel terrible about yourself so that they can feel better about themselves.

Toxic friendships need to be busted. You don’t have to stay in friendships where you are used as an emotional punching bag—because you are worth more than that. Downgrading a friendship isn’t easy, especially if you move in the same circles. Below are some tips on how to navigate a friendship sabbatical.

First take some time to reflect. This could just be a phase in your friendship… or it could be symptomatic of something going on their life. If this behavior continues, it suggests a simmering resentment to you on some level and you will need to deal with it head-on. Evaluate your relationship with this person using a critical lens; if this “friend” is offering nothing positive, it might be time to break up with them.

Second, brave the talk with them. Sit down with this person and be strong. During your conversation, take deep breaths and make direct eye contact. State the facts and address how they are not being kind or respectful to you. Try to be objective rather than hostile. And remember, if they are a true friend, they will show concern and not defensiveness during this exchange.

Then, prepare for the fallout. After confronting them, you might realize that their behavior towards you was just an excuse to blow off some steam, and this conversation could end up making your friendship stronger. You need to be honest with yourself and with them about what you are willing to compromise on and what you aren’t. If this friend isn’t open to altering their behavior towards you, you need to let them know that this toxicity isn’t healthy in your life and that you need some space.

Finally, move on. Sometimes it’s easier to start simple, such as by reducing the amount of text messages and phone calls, invites, etc. until the friendship dies of its own accord. Remember, break-ups aren’t just for romantic relationships, but unhealthy platonic ones too. You’ll be better off for breaking up with a toxic friend so that you can focus your attention on the positive people in your life.