If you are already involved in a friendship with someone who may be toxic, it’s necessary to figure out what kind of steps you are going to take to keep yourself safe from the emotional toll the friendship may have on you!
How do you recognize a toxic friendship? If you think you might be in a toxic friendship, here are four important questions you need to ask yourself!
Question #1 Do you come away from time spent with this ‘friend’ feeling more exhausted than you were before you met up with them?
This kind of exhaustion isn’t the physical exhaustion you might feel after a great night out, but an emotional heaviness that leaves you feeling ‘down’ or stressed. This emotionally drained feeling is a very important signal that you may be involved in a friendship that isn’t healthy for you! [Read: Is your negative thinking ruining your life?]
Question #2 Does your ‘friend’ listen to you? Good friendships are all about sharing experiences!
Does she tune in when you are talking about things that really matter to you? *or does she throw in a couple of “uh-huhs” and then turn the conversation back to herself?* If your answer to this question is “no”, then you know that you aren’t in a friendship that is healthy. Even if a good friend doesn’t understand why you care about something as much as you do, they will care about it just because they know it means so much to you! [Read: Should you make someone a priority when you’re only an option to them?]
Question #3 Is your ‘friend’ constantly in crisis, and constantly the victim?
Everyone has rough times, and there are certainly times that a friend’s life will be messy – these are the times when you really need strong friendships, and offering a shoulder to cry on and an understanding ear is the best thing you can do!
However, if you notice that your friend is constantly coming to you with emotional tales about how they have been wronged, and this pattern lasts for an extended period of time, you might want to think critically about how realistic their explanation of their problems is! Toxic friends will often manipulate your emotions because they are addicted to the attention that their personal tragedies will bring. [Read: 16 clear signs your friend is an attention whore!]
Question #4 Is your ‘friend’ interested in your life?
Toxic friendships are often incredibly one-sided, and that’s not a healthy way for a friendship to work! Does he ask about events happening in your life? Does he remember your favorite things, or take the time to go out of his way to make a hard day a little better?
Often, toxic friends aren’t interested in what they can give to a friendship, only in what they can take away from one. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. After all, you are worthy of a friendship that enriches your life.
However, it can be hard to know how to reverse or end a toxic friendship, and this is where problem solving comes in.
Problem Solving – Breaking away from a toxic relationship
If the questions above helped you to identify a toxic personality in your life, you have some difficult decisions to make. After all, on some level you do enjoy spending time with this person, otherwise you wouldn’t consider them a friend at all!
Here are some suggestions on how you can best protect yourself in these situations.
Step #1 Reframing. Now that you’ve recognized that your friendship is toxic, you may not need to do anything else! For some people, it is enough to realize that the friendship is not quite as healthy as they may have thought.
Once you understand this, it can be easier to not invest quite as much emotion in your toxic friend’s drama. And if you don’t expect him/her to take an interest in your life, you will not be disappointed if they won’t! Perhaps, reframing your understanding of this relationship is all you need to do, and this new perspective will protect you as you continue the friendship. [Read: Bad friends and 10 circumstances when you need to end the relationship]
Step #2 Restructuring. You’ve identified your friendship as toxic, and you don’t think it’s a great idea to continue it the way it is, but you don’t want to give up on the years of memories? It might be time for a frank discussion with your toxic friend.
Sometimes, an honest conversation can go a long way in fixing unequal relationships. For all you know, your friend is probably completely unaware of how they have been treating you! Be sure to have this conversation face-to-face. While it is a little more intimidating, miscommunications are far less likely to happen in person than over text! If the conversation goes well, your toxic friendship may quickly transition into a healthy friendship that is fulfilling for both, your friend and you! [Read: Are you losing a friend or are both of you just drifting away?]
Step #3 Releasing. Unfortunately, sometimes once a friendship is identified as toxic, it becomes undeniably clear that it is necessary for you to move on from the friendship. The end of a friendship can be as hard, or harder, than a romantic breakup!
What is important to remember if you are taking a step this drastic is that you have to consciously release the person from your life. This doesn’t mean engaging in dramatic arguments and holding on to resentment. If you want to remove the negative influence that this person has had on your life, you need to let them go completely, and that includes any lingering negative feelings you may have about them!
No matter which solution you choose, you will be much happier than you were when you were in the middle of your toxic friendship. You deserve to be surrounded by people that build you up and make you happy all of the time, and toxic friendships simply aren’t worth the energy and emotional difficulty that they can cause!
So do you have a friend who makes you feel miserable, even if you can’t pinpoint why? Big chances are, they’re toxic for you. Use these 4 questions and 3 steps, and break away. Do that, and you’ll have a happier life, even if there’s one less person in it!
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Briallyn is a student by day, and a student by night too. Currently living in the middle of nowhere in Canada, with a love for beautiful people, long walks, all...