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What To Do When You Realize Your Friendship is Toxic

You meet someone for the first time, and you like their vibe. You seem to have a lot in common; maybe even the same warped sense of humor, and you think to yourself, " Wow, this is a cool chick, I wouldn't mind hanging out with her more often." And, she seems to feel the same way.

So you start to put yourselves in one another's circle, maybe meeting up for coffee, going for a cocktail after work. Introducing one another to your respective friend circles, and being there for each other. She knows your darkest secrets, you know hers. You have found yourself a new best friend. Life is good.

Then one day, you start to recognize some egotistical behaviors, but shrug it off telling yourself that everyone loves selfies and social media nowadays. You continue to be there for your friend, but start to realize that she isn't there for you as much, when you need her to be. She expects you to be the center of her world, but isn't reciprocating. She demands that you drop everything and be available when she has a crisis situation, but is insensitive to what is going on in your life and and shows no empathy toward you when you have a bad day or a crisis of your own. She expects to be included in all aspects of your social life but doesn't include you in all aspects of hers. She may even get jealous of the time you spend with your other friends. She is perpetually the victim in any circumstance but rarely if ever, takes any action necessary to resolve a situation. She disregards any boundaries you have set for yourself, and you begin to feel emotionally exhausted.

You may decide to have a difficult conversation with her, and point out some of the things that she is doing, but she gas lights you or flippantly dismisses your comments. You may even try to have conversations about how you feel about your friendship, but you feel that she is not hearing you.

Healthy friendships allow for both parties to speak kindly, openly, and honestly about feelings, emotions, life, and issues of concern. Healthy friendships support and respect one another in a mutual way, choosing to equally be generous with their time and resources.

You may now be realizing that you have a toxic friendship. What should you do?

You have two choices. You can try to fix it, or you can end the friendship:

  • Try to fix it; ask yourself:

Have you established clear boundaries, or do you need to set up new ones?

Have you clearly articulated how you feel about your friendship?

Have you spoken up for yourself when you have been hurt?

If not, you can try to implement these things first. Be sure to use "I" statements when explaining how you are feeling. Once you have tried these things, if your friend doesn't respond appropriately, it may be time to end the friendship, especially if you are feeling emotionally exhausted to the point where you feel like you have nothing left to give, and you aren't being heard. Ending the friendship is likely the best solution.

  • Ending the friendship:

It's important not to blame yourself if you choose to end the friendship. Chances are, you are a good kind person who is a great friend. There are a few different ways you can choose to end your friendship:

Let it fade out - You don't even need to offer an explanation as to why you are ending the friendship if you don't want to, in fact you don't even have to tell your friend, you simply disengage, and reduce the number of times you text or call, and distance the time in between contact, until you choose to no longer reach out.

Officially end the friendship - This requires courage and emotional maturity to do, but it will provide closure for both you and your friend, and will allow you both the opportunity to be heard.

Go no contact - Completely drop the friendship and ensure that you delete or block your friend on all social media and any other way that they can contact you. Avoid places she frequents often, and if you have mutual friends, be sure not to bad mouth your friend but set firm boundaries with your mutual friends to let them know you are no longer friends with this person and do not want to hear about what they are doing or saying.

When ending a friendship with a toxic friend you also want to be aware that they may start a smear campaign against you, as they will choose to be the victim and take no responsibility for their part in your friendship failing. Be assured that the truth will always come out. People who know you, know you, and those who choose to believe the lies are not your tribe anyway. Let your character speak for itself.

Be sure to give yourself some time to grieve the ending of your friendship, and remember that breaking up a toxic friendship is the best thing you can do for yourself!

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