How to… Get Rid of Toxic Friends

sophia-loren-jealousy-picture
Photo: Delmar Watson

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Stay in touch! Please enter your e-mail address below to receive new post updates straight to your inbox:

  • Pingback: Weekly momscope: July 21-27 | Momstrology()

  • Pingback: Five Types of "Friends" To Avoid - Genius Awakening()

  • Pingback: Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup | IFB()

  • Michael

    I have a toxic friend in my life. Every time I talk to her I just feel drained and depressed. She just repeats a cycle of the same emotionally draining things over and over. I try to stay positive and help her but there is only so much I can take. I do not want to dread talking to someone who is supposed to be my best friend. I want to end this toxic relationship but I am honestly still concerned for her. She thinks that everyone hates her and that I am the only person that can tolerate her. I am worried that if I try to end this friendship she will become very depressed and may even hurt herself. I still care about her but I can not take the drama and depressing phone calls anymore. I do not know what to do!

    • http://www.beautifille.com/ Renee / Beautifille

      Hey Michael – yikes, that’s a really tough situation and I am sorry you have to go through it. I wonder if you can help her seek help – be it a doctor, a counsellor or someone close to her (a family member?) that you can tell them what’s going on; and then you can let yourself out of this relationship. Like I just told Barista above, sometimes people only “wake up” when you leave them… I know a person in my life who only “changed” when he realized what a monster he was being and everyone abandoned him. However as you said, your friend might harm yourself in which case you would need outside help, it doesn’t sound like something you can handle yourself, nor should you.

      Also an idea for now could be to change your phone number.

  • Pingback: Toxicity | Beautifully Disheveled()

  • Bratista

    I got rid of my toxic friend today, but I feel depressed about it. It just got to the point where we have been friends for years and really close, but she is too much. I have tried to help her and be there for her as much as possible, but she is self destructive and has a tendency to lie…a lot.
    To top it off, she called me untrustworthy which really hurt after all I have done for her (and no, I didn’t blab her secrets like she accused me of).
    So I decided enough is enough, but I’m sad about it. Is this normal? I know she will just get worse, but we’ve been through a lot. :(

    • Brice

      Yes, (I love your handle) it is normal to feel sad about it. When you spend time with someone you create a bond. Even when things go bad that bond is still there. Memories, feelings, all those emotions. They take a while to go away. When you feel sad just tell yourself why you made the decision. That this person attacked you. This person does not care about your feelings. It will get better from here.

      • Bratista

        Thanks, it’s good to know that I can grow past this.

    • http://www.beautifille.com/ Renee / Beautifille

      Hey – sorry for some reason I didn’t see your comment until I saw you had a reply to it. I usually reply all comments the best I can.

      Like Brice said, it’s totally normal to feel sad about it. Like all relationship breakups, it will take time to move on. You know, sometimes you can actually help people “wake up” by telling them enough is enough and then letting them go. She may start thinking about her behavior now and change… who knows. But I commend you for taking a stand for yourself, take care!

  • Brice

    I have a neighbor that I’ve known for over five years. For the first 1/2 year or so we were good friends and eventually dated. However, after meeting new friends (she moved from out of town) she began sharing less time with me while I could see she was having these people over. I tried getting a straight answer to what was going on and what she wanted but she continued to act as if everything was ok and I was the one with an issue. After refusing to contort myself to match her schedule when she wanted to be together she suddenly shows up dating someone else without even telling me. Even with trying to be a decent friend and neighbor I found this person to be selfish and a liar. I finally replied to a text from her that I no longer wanted to talk to her. She still attempted to hook up with me over the years, even behind the backs of her boyfriends. Even my refusals didn’t seem to matter to her. I finally left a note on her current boyfriend’s car about it and explained her attempts to sleep with me and ongoing harassment. I felt bad for doing so but after a brief phone conversation with him I received a text from her stating she wouldn’t ever be calling me again or attempting to talk to me. I feel bad it played out this way but liars are liars and they won’t change.

    • http://www.beautifille.com/ Renee / Beautifille

      Good for you, Brice. I am happy you finally got this toxic person out of your life.

      • Brice

        Thank you Renee. As I stated previously, it is a difficult situation to deal with as a neighbor.

      • CA K

        Hi renee i wanted some advice:so sometime ago i was friends with this girl who was somewhat supportive to me when i was going through a rough patch (depression).However, i decided to take a trip abroad to america i bounced back and came out of the 2 yr depression.When i was in America i got veneers and was happy with the result. I arrived back home to meet the friend who was there for me. I was cheery and happy for the first time in a long time. life was good i as i was going to my last year of college. The first thing she said to me is what have you done to your teeth you look like a old woman. The criticism became more and more harsher. I decided to wear clip in extensions as my hair was cut short and she would say your hair looks ratty and i would tell her i like my hair and she would say well its my opinion im entitled to it. I wish the criticism would stop there. But it continued she slapped me on the face one time as i was being bubbly and she didnt like it. she said to me calm down!. When i wore hoop earrings she would say i looked slutty. i pronounce homous as khoumous and she would laugh in front of people and say to me repeat it in front of her friends. She use to keep adjusting my speech. Words like mountain and fountain. ” no say it! fooountin and mooountin”. She would laugh in hysterics. One time she got a pair of scissors and said “let me cut your extensions because they look ratty and thin” as she looked in disgust. So she chopped it and ruined it.She would make fun of my choice of music and say that song it shit! and my style say you always wear the same type of clothes you would look better if you dressed like her. Im a very reserved and introvert person who likes to have a few good friends and im happy about that. But she was the type who was an extrovert, popularity is everything to her. So she would say “you are going to end up lonely”. She even criticised the way my parents gave me a 12 o’clock curfew. Complaining how my parents cotton wool me.She would interfere in my love life telling me i should not go to my then bfs area, She would always ask about every detail in my life. I was very caring to this girl as i really genuinely cared for her. Everytime i use to go on holiday i would bring gifts back. Every birthday i would take her out and buy her gifts. This is not important but everytime my birthday came round she would say oh i bought you a dress but i took it back. I dont mind if she couldnt buy but everytime we use to go out she would go search for presents for her friends she would also say to me i gave £50 to my friend for her birthday. When her friends were around i wouldnt talk about my personal problems like her freinds did so i got yelled at by my friend “why dont you tell your story to my friends” She was angry at me.My question is did i do the right thing to walk away from this friendship?

        • http://www.beautifille.com/ Renee / Beautifille

          You absolutely, 100% did the right thing, CA. That person doesn’t sound like a friend at all, and actually sounds abusive. I am so proud of you for the strength to walk away from that really, really toxic friendship! How do you feel?

          • CA K

            Thankyou so much renee for your care and support. I cannot tell you how much you made me feel better. I confided in a friend about this and all the thins dhe was doing but she told that girl everything. So naturally we parted ways. She wa furious an said i needed to seek psychological help claiming she was trying to protect me.She tried to make amends with me but i walked away from the friendship permanantly. I was hurt for a long time. She use to listen to my personal problems. But these comments really use to hurt. I feel like an indiidual now. Like i can be myself. She was taking my identity away.

          • CA K

            Thankyou so much renee for your care and support. I cannot tell you how much you made me feel better. I confided in a friend about this and all the thins dhe was doing but she told that girl everything. So naturally we parted ways. She wa furious an said i needed to seek psychological help claiming she was trying to protect me.She tried to make amends with me but i walked away from the friendship permanantly. I was hurt for a long time. She use to listen to my personal problems. But these comments really use to hurt. I feel like an individual now. Like i can be myself. She was taking my identity away.

  • The Pantsless Bear

    Toxic friends are all about, particularly when you become single. That’s often when they show their true colous. We actually wrote some tips about spotting toxic friends a few months back at: How to identify your toxic friends. It’s worth a look. In short, if they’re bitter, don’t enjoy your successes, don’t like seeing you try new things and don’t like your friends they probably aren’t good for you.

    • CA K

      Spot on

  • CA K

    so sometime ago i was friends with this girl who was somewhat supportive to me when i was going through a rough patch (depression).However, i decided to take a trip abroad to america i bounced back and came out of the 2 yr depression.When i was in America i got veneers and was happy with the result. I arrived back home to meet the friend who was there for me. I was cheery and happy for the first time in a long time. life was good i as i was going to my last year of college. The first thing she said to me is what have you done to your teeth you look like a old woman. The criticism became more and more harsher. I decided to wear clip in extensions as my hair was cut short and she would say your hair looks ratty and i would tell her i like my hair and she would say well its my opinion im entitled to it. I wish the criticism would stop there. But it continued she slapped me on the face one time as i was being bubbly and she didnt like it. she said to me calm down!. When i wore hoop earrings she would say i looked slutty. i pronounce homous as khoumous and she would laugh in front of people and say to me repeat it in front of her friends. She use to keep adjusting my speech. Words like mountain and fountain. ” no say it! fooountin and mooountin”. She would laugh in hysterics. One time she got a pair of scissors and said “let me cut your extensions because they look ratty and thin” as she looked in disgust. So she chopped it and ruined it.She would make fun of my choice of music and say that song it shit! and my style say you always wear the same type of clothes you would look better if you dressed like her. Im a very reserved and introvert person who likes to have a few good friends and im happy about that. But she was the type who was an extrovert, popularity is everything to her. So she would say “you are going to end up lonely”. She even criticised the way my parents gave me a 12 o’clock curfew. Complaining how my parents cotton wool me.She would interfere in my love life telling me i should not go to my then bfs area, She would always ask about every detail in my life. I was very caring to this girl as i really genuinely cared for her. Everytime i use to go on holiday i would bring gifts back. Every birthday i would take her out and buy her gifts. This is not important but everytime my birthday came round she would say oh i bought you a dress but i took it back. I dont mind if she couldnt buy but everytime we use to go out she would go search for presents for her friends she would also say to me i gave £50 to my friend for her birthday. When her friends were around i wouldnt talk about my personal problems like her freinds did so i got yelled at by my friend “why dont you tell your story to my friends” She was angry at me.My question is did i do the right thing to walk away from this friendship?

    • Heather Ferreira

      YES

    • http://www.beautifille.com/ Renee / Beautifille

      I’d say heck yeah you did the right thing. This is not a “friend” at all. Good for you for walking away!

  • Gretta

    I am not sure about my friend. She is supposed to be my best friend and at my school, we really only have each other. Every time I talk to her, she starts the conversation by complaining about something. “Last night was terrible”, “Everything sucks”, etc. She has a pretty decent life, but she’s really negative. She only sometimes talks about good things. When she gets all negative and down, I tell her to stay positive and think about the good things. But every time I say that she gets super offended, like I’m saying that her feelings aren’t valid. I’m just trying to be a good friend. Sometimes I feel like she wants to be sad. I can’t really have this negativity in my life, because I used to be a sad person and now I’m positive. I can’t have negativity in my life. But she’s my best friend and we share all of our friends, so I’m worried that I’ll be all alone and have no one. What do you think I should do??

    • http://www.beautifille.com/ Renee / Beautifille

      Sorry to hear about your friend. :/ My suggestions are all above – I’d probably just slowly drift away from her, especially since you already tried talking to her, etc.