How to Handle a Toxic Friendship
Sometimes it can be really hard to admit that you have a toxic friend. You enjoy their company even if it drains you. You want to spend time together even if you know they’re a bad influence. We all have that one friend that encourages our own bad behavior but we don’t want to admit it. Handling a friendship that has become toxic or was always toxic to begin with has to be delicate, and it’s hard.
Pinpoint what the problem is.
Not all toxic friendships are alike. Sometimes you can figure out what the issue is, whether it’s a friend that causes you to feel badly about yourself or one that makes you a more negative person. Other times, it’s harder to pinpoint down. Either way, figure out what is making this friendship hard for you to maintain.
It can be a solvable issue. You might sit down and talk with that friend and have a real heart-to-heart about what you find difficult about their behavior. Other times, it’s not. That leads me to the most important question:
Do you want to save it?
Friendships are like relationships. They’re hard work. I can speak from personal experience that you might not want to save all your friendships, especially if you don’t like the person you see yourself becoming while with these friends. So you can make that decision whether or not you want to save it.
If it’s someone you truly value having in your life, then have that hard talk. It’s going to be challenging and most likely, your friend could feel hurt that you hadn’t brought up this problem before or that there’s a problem at all. Things will… probably suck for a while. But if you want to maintain it, then work at it. Suggest activities that you know will allow you two to be friends in a way that negates that toxicity from before.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to save it – you should (again speaking from personal experience) admit to yourself that this friendship is bad for you and why. It’s really surprising what the power of even saying something out loud to yourself can have. I find myself (again from experience) having to repeat to myself when I miss my toxic friends that I am ultimately a mentally healthier person without them in my life.
Active or Passive?
Let’s say you have decided to end things. What now? You have a couple options. You can be upfront, go to your friend and say that you aren’t happy with how things are going and tell that person you don’t want to be friends anymore. As a closet introvert, that’s not really my style. It’s aggressive.
You can distance yourself, and slowly remove this influence from your life in a kinder way. Decide actively how you want to spend time with that person (in lesser increments or not at all), and make a strategy for taking a step back.
We all have toxic friendships. Not everyone decides to be active and make changes in their life that cause them to be more mentally and physically happier as people. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but in my humble opinion, it’s worth it. Your life might not be the sunshine-filled existence for a bit but look long-term, is it worth it to stay friends with someone that makes you unhappy? (I didn’t think so).
What do you think yogis? Do you have any toxic friendships that you hold onto?