We often talk about how damaging toxic friends can get. But nobody talks about the grief that comes with standing firm on your decision to cut off a toxic friend. I think the first step to on how deal with the end of a toxic friendship is giving yourself time to grieve. Most times, we are eager to replace friendship when it turns sour; that attempt to replace a toxic friend is disrespectful to the good times you might have shared with said toxic friend.
How to identify toxic friends
Before we get into the knowhow of dealing with the grief that comes with ending a toxic relationship, what are some of the signs of a toxic relationship?
Here 5 ways to identify toxic friends:
1. You feel drained after each encounter with such a person
In my previous post about emotional drainage, I talked about how some friends can have you emotionally exhausted after heaping all their life problems on you. It is possible that you have friends that only remember you when they are facing challenges and go to another friend when they want to have fun.
Such friends have no issue using you as their emotional dumpster. I describe that as a toxic friend. So, if you always feel drained after an encounter with a friend, it is possible that such a friend is toxic and not good for you.
2. They don’t respect your boundaries
Adulthood is realizing the importance of adulthood. A few years back, I somewhat invested in some skincare products to deal with some skin concerns. My best friend is usually fond of using my stuff without asking. She was going to stay with me for some time, and I openly had a conversation with her on how expensive skin products can be and would appreciate the fact if she didn’t use my products. The way we were able to maturely hash it out made me appreciate her some more.
Your friends might disrespect your boundaries every now and then. That doesn’t make them toxic. But having a heartfelt conversation and reinforcing the need for such boundaries to be respected is a sign of a healthy relationship.
3. They are trying to change you
Of course, it is important that you have similar likes and interests with your friend. However, it is more important that you are your own person that can make independent decisions.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, your friend may be pushing you to pretend to be someone you’re not. They may know your dislikes and place you in awkward circumstances, or they may ask you to speak, dress, or conduct differently.
While it is necessary for friends to criticize and push one other to quit potentially harmful behaviors, it becomes destructive when they force you to sacrifice your character.
I am glad that I am over being peer pressured by friends. I have attained a level of self-awareness that helps me instantly realize when a friend is trying to change me. I hope you attain the same level of self-awareness to realize this type of toxicity in your friends.
4. There is constant drama
I used to revel in the drama that comes with friendship. I used to think the constant drama was just a way of being friends.
Well, thanks to adulthood! I flee from the drama the same way bugs flee from bug sprays. Any sort of friendship that comes with constant drama, commotion, and bickering is not good for you.
Keep an eye out for drama, and don’t promote it. Stand up for your friends and let go of the urge to be the last one to speak.
5. You are uneasy with them.
Sometimes you meet and befriend someone who makes you feel uneasy—you’re not sure why, but you feel uncomfortable with them. In general, spending time with a close buddy should make you feel happy.
If you detect this uneasy feeling, examine yourself and your friendship more closely. Do you feel uncomfortable because you lack familiarity or because you don’t feel safe? Before you decide that this relationship is toxic, look for additional signals that something isn’t quite right.
6. They are unpredictable
Some folks are really enjoyable to be around! However, some friends cross the line to become unpredictable. While unpredictability does not always mean someone is toxic, you should be on the lookout for when their words and behaviors make you feel threatened, self-conscious, or assaulted. Maybe they become furious and yell at you over little things, then act as if nothing happened the next minute.
If that’s the case, continue with care because you never know how they’ll respond, and you may find it difficult to feel comfortable with them.
7. They almost never apologize
We all make errors, but part of valuing our friends is admitting them, apologizing, and committing to new conduct. On the other hand, toxic friends avoid apologizing or deliver a flippant “sorry” when you call them out on their conduct.
Instead of considering your point of view, they’ll remark, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or follow up with a defensive “but.” These non-apologies imply that your buddy is unconcerned about how their actions affect you.
8. They are always putting you down
Toxic friends rarely congratulate or applaud you. In fact, they never encourage you or congratulate you on your accomplishments. Instead, they’re more likely to knock you down and rarely make you feel good about yourself. They may also sulk when others encourage them.
9. They are jealous of your other friends
A toxic friend will have difficulty sharing you with other friends and will become quite envious when you are with others. A toxic friend shifts blame and attempts to distance you from your existing friendships.
10. They are manipulative
I am certain we must have dealt with manipulative friends at one point in our life. And as such, we are all aware that manipulative persons should be avoided, yet manipulation may be quite subtle. Manipulation may take many forms, including guilt-tripping, passive-aggressive conduct, and gaslighting.
How To Deal With The End Of A Toxic Friendship
I like to believe that I have dealt with my own share of toxic friendships. Again, while you might have made up your mind to let go of a fake friend, there’s a profound sadness that comes with it. First, you will start second-guessing your decisions if you really need to go to extreme lengths to end a toxic relationship.
Here are 5 ways to deal with the end of a toxic friendship:
1. Acknowledge that your friendship was toxic
This is the first step in dealing with the end of a toxic relationship. You have to be wholly convinced that the friendship is toxic and thus not healthy for you. Accepting and acknowledging the truth is one of the most difficult things to accomplish. If your friendship is toxic, don’t go around in circles; if not, you’ll wind up creating excuses for the person/people, allowing them to re-access you.
2. Talk to someone
Funny enough, my mom is able to detect a toxic friend way before I come to that reality. Maybe it’s a mother’s protective instinct in play.
Sometimes, we need a third party to see things from an outer perspective to validate our fears. I also feel that balancing a more seasoned, mature viewpoint with a fresh, modern viewpoint helps me to gain a true balance of diverse ideas and make my own decision about what I’m going to do.
3. Be thankful for the good times
Whatever the circumstances, there is always much to be thankful for. People evolve. People who become toxic friends do not start out that way.
They used to be best friends, siblings, and soulmates. We used to look after them. If you’re anything like me, you still do.
That is not a terrible thing. It’s okay to love someone and want the best for them while still acknowledging that they aren’t right for you.
4. Remember the lessons learned
Toxic friendships provide us lessons; they remind us of prior errors we’ve made so we know what not to do in the future. Toxic connections taught me that I should always put myself first. They showed me that the love you offer does not always get returned.
5. Discard the bitterness
This is not such as easy thing to do, especially when you remember when such a friend took advantage of your kindness. But finally, you do yourself no good in holding tightly to the bitterness. Appreciate the good times you spent with such a friend and find a way to discard any grudge. It is all in the past, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You only have control over the future.
6. Allow yourself to heal
Nobody deserves to be mistreated. Nobody deserves to be left out, alone, or misunderstood. I know how it feels to be this way. Acknowledge the toxicity of the relationship and give yourself ample time to heal.
I have stated earlier that the grief that comes with the end of a toxic relationship is not usually talked about.
You might find yourself looking through old Instagram photos of you and your friend, breaking into tears in unexpected places; you may suspect that something is wrong with you. After all, you were the one who ended the friendship. But it’s important that you allow yourself to mourn – it’s a normal part of saying goodbye to someone who has been such a significant part of your life.
8. Write up a list of reasons why you ended the friendship
This becomes necessary when you find yourself rethinking your decision to end such a relationship. Well, when you have a list of why you ended such a toxic relationship in the first place, you won’t be tempted to go back to such a friendship.
9. Focus on yourself
Now that you don’t have someone distracting you from your own happiness or putting you down whenever you discuss your goals, this is the ideal moment for you to concentrate on yourself. Indulge yourself – not only in good activities like going to the gym or going for walks but also in guilty pleasures like going out to dinner or watching your favorite movie again and over. Treat yourself the way you know you deserve it!
10. Create a support system
It’s natural to feel lonely after losing a friend, even if that friend frequently made you feel lonely. As a result, it’s necessary to create a new support system so you don’t have to go through this experience alone. Reaching out will aid you through this difficult time, whether it’s to friends who are worth retaining, relatives, or a therapist. Remember that there is always someone who is willing to listen and support you.
Conclusion: How To Deal With The End Of A Toxic Friendship
We may have been in an unfulfilling, stressful, and demanding relationship for years just because we were postponing making changes. However, we frequently recognize that some relationships fail despite our best attempts to make them work.
Life evolves, people change, and emotions change as well. And just because we’ve decided to split ways with someone doesn’t imply we have to do so in a big, nasty fashion. We might choose to say our goodbyes and focus on the positive memories and lessons learned from that life experience.