Whether it’s at your workplace, in your family, your neighbors or school friends, toxic people are everywhere. Toxic friends are no fun, and at the end of the day, life is too short to be spending it with people who wear you out and/or don’t treat you right.
The best way to identify a toxic friend is to see how they make you feel. If you feel just one of the points below, it’s safe to say you have a toxic friend in your life:
- You feel ‘down’ after spending time with this person.
- You feel anxious and/or afraid when you see their name pop up on the screen, notifying you of a text message, or an email, a Tweet, etc.
- You feel tired, emotionally drained, defeated, frustrated and stressed out after meeting with this person.
- You don’t feel comfortable or just have a “bad feeling” about this person. Trust your instincts, they are there for a reason.
There is a quote I read many, many years ago and I use it to kinda “gauge” what I am willing to put up with in a friendship, which is to treat it like a romantic relationship. Ask yourself: If this were a partner, would you put up with their behavior? Sure, we all have our ups and downs, but if your toxic friend is behaving in a way that if a boyfriend did, would you still stay with him? If the answer is no, then you you might want to do the following:
- Start setting boundaries. The first thing you can try is to set some boundaries. You have to start saying no. Whatever your situation may be, it can usually be helped by putting your foot down with certain things.
- Talk to them. If setting up some boundaries doesn’t work, it’s time for a choice: you either need to end this friendship, or give it one last try. Meet up with your friend, and share your feelings. Or write an email if that’s easier. If they listen and take into consideration what you’re saying, then great! However, if they become defensive, blame it on you, start a fight, etc… that’s when you need to end that friendship. Do not continue to answer their calls or entertain any other form of communication after you’ve made it clear you are walking out of the friendship.
- Slowly drift away. During your lifetime you’ll have many friendships come and go; and some just drift away and run its course. That’s OK; not everyone is meant to be BFFs4Ever. These usually happen naturally, but if you want to get rid of a friend this is also an option – all you need to do is slowly “drift away”. It’s very easy: just start getting busy… very busy. Focus on your true friendships and keep busy with those friends, and you’ll have no time for the toxic ones! If they ask, just keep telling them you’re busy and can’t meet up, etc. They’ll get the message. Eventually.
- Pull a Houdini. This is for the really toxic friends – abusers, users, or friends that you’ve found out are involved in illegal or other wrong activities, or people you just get that “bad feeling” about. If a relationship is at the point where it’s damaging, you need to get out – just disappeared. Stop hanging out at those places. Change your cell phone number. Poof, gone! Just like Houdini.
At the end of the day, there’s really no nice way to end a friendship. It’s always sad when something ends. If the person/people you are having a problem with are truly your friend(s), it’s best to talk to them; they deserve that. But if it’s just an acquaintance who’s annoying you, simply try to slowly drift away and everyone will move on. If it’s really, really bad, then get up and leave, no excuses.
Some books that may help you:
- Toxic People: 10 Ways of Dealing with people who make your life miserable
- When Friendship Hurts: How to deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You
- Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend
- Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships
P.S. Don’t be a toxic friend yourself!
We all do it sometimes. Life is a learning process though, and friendship is a two-way street, so try your best to be a good friend yourself, and have friendships with people who you feel are honest, right, and who you’re happy knowing. When you do meet these special people, cherish them and make sure to work on being a great friend as well.