The connections you forge with your friends are some of the most beautiful relationships you will ever have.
A good friendship can enrich your life, add color to even the dullest days, and inspire you to be a better person.
One of the best things about friendships is how rich they become over time, every new experience or inside joke adds to the wealth of memories you already share.
True friends will rejoice with you when you are at your happiest, and walk with you through your darkest moments.
In fact, they become so present in every aspect of your life that it becomes difficult to remember who you even were before you met them.
Good friends or toxic friends?
Happy friendships paint a pretty picture, but unfortunately, all friendships aren’t always this picturesque.
There certainly are kindred spirits out there, and when you find them, it is so very important to hang on to them for all they are worth.
But the reality is that we live in a world where nothing is certain and people aren’t always who they initially seem to be.
And in order to protect yourself from these toxic people, it’s important to recognize traits that may indicate someone who doesn’t have your best interests in mind. [Read: The 10 kinds of toxic friends who may be in your life right now!]
How to recognize toxic relationships
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!
And if you’re exiting a toxic friendship, the best thing you can do for yourself is to have some positive goals and mindsets to help you move into a healthier, happier future! [Read: 25 memorable life lessons to perfect your life from within]
Recognition – Toxic friendships
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!
You may have several years of shared history and hilarious inside jokes, and it can be hard to take steps away from that. Each friendship is different, and it is ultimately up to you to decide on how you intend to proceed! [Read: 16 reasons why everyone finds it so easy to take you for granted]
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!
After all, you have spent years together going through life’s ups and downs, and it can be hard to adjust to a world without a person you’ve been so close to! However, if the friendship is truly toxic, removing the toxic person from your life entirely can be a freeing experience. [Read: 10 signs to recognize a selfish person and 5 steps to stop them from hurting you]
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!
[Read: The 15 types of toxic relationships to watch out for]
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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