Letting Go of Toxic Friends

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

At first, it was the little things: “Hey, where’s my Christmas present?” or “Send answers please!” And for so long, as they piled up, I thought that I was obligated to fulfill their requests simply because we were friends. But then it got harder for me to laugh with them because I sometimes felt like they were laughing at me. My friendship with them became more of a chore– even almost a burden. When “Let’s hang out!” turned into “You’re always busy, so what’s the point?”, and “What’s wrong with her?” suddenly became the equivalent of “Are you okay?”, it dawned on me that the people I was surrounding myself with were not who I wanted them to be. While it might’ve been easy to see that I was in an unhealthy friendship from an outsider’s point-of-view, it can be difficult to know that, especially if you’re the victim suffering from one.

Relationships can differ for everyone, but something that should never be compromised is your self-worth. It’s obviously impossible for everyone to always be happy and satisfied with their friends, but take the time to remember that your self-worth isn’t just determined by insults or mean comments. A good friend should also learn to respect your boundaries, and on the contrary, shouldn’t limit you from doing things either. Everyone is different in terms of what they like and feel comfortable with, so if you say no to something, a friend shouldn’t force you to do it. Conversely, a common example of a limitation placed on a friend is not allowing them to become close friends with other people. Unless you feel that it would seriously weaken your friendship or put someone in danger, it’s equally as important to trust your friend. Trust is applicable in many situations, so if you feel that you cannot trust someone to keep a secret or stick to their moral values, it would be wise to discuss it with them. Another relevant topic is effort. You and your friend should put in the same amount of effort so that both of you can feel validated and hold the same amount of control over your friendship. If only one person initiated all the hang-outs or bought gifts, it wouldn’t be fair to them, since the other person isn’t trying to improve the friendship. Being in a one-sided friendship can make the friend feel replaceable or that the things that they are doing are pointless since their efforts aren’t being reciprocated. A one-sided friendship isn’t confined to just physical displays of kindness, and most of the time takes place because one person has more power over the friendship than the other. It’s easy to fall into a pattern where the friendship revolves around one person’s needs and wants, which quite frankly, isn’t a friendship at all.

Friends should make you feel happy, safe, and supported, so if you feel that your needs aren’t being met, it’s a good idea to let go of them. If you feel that closure is important, you may want to think about confrontation. It’s a good way to let out your feelings without feeling confined to any of the consequences that could result from it. However, you should keep in mind that confronting someone should never be done in a threatening matter. And if you feel unsafe with it, a better alternative would be just to let your friendship end itself. If both people stop trying, it’s only natural for you to drift apart from them. Leaving any kind of unhealthy relationship is not only liberating but makes room for self-growth. While the friendship might not have been satisfying at the moment, in retrospect, it proves to be an experience for everyone to learn from.

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