Friendships are one of the most important parts of life. Research has shown that in many ways, our friends have a greater influence over us than our partners or family – whether we are 15 or 45. When we are struggling, our friends are there to prop us up. Where do we turn when we want some fun? To our friends. But what if some of our friends are doing more harm than good? How do you know if you have a toxic friend?
A toxic friend:
- makes you feel worse about yourself, not better
- puts you down
- questions your ability to achieve your goals eg I’ll believe you can lose weight when I see it!
- sabotages your efforts to change eg I know you’ve given up drinking, but it’s my birthday.
- wants you to struggle
- gets angry if you don’t take their advice
- is not loyal
- makes everything about them
- does not forgive you when you make a mistake
It can be really hard to end a friendship, especially if you share a long history. But I’m a firm believer is regularly doing a stock-take of your friends. Obviously, friendships go through stages when one person is more needy than the other. You would never ditch a friend because they were having a tough time and were not fun anymore or because they let you down once or twice. But continuing in an toxic friendship is just not healthy.
If you do decide to end a friendship, there’s probably no point in sitting them down and telling them why. If they are truly toxic, they will not take responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the relationship. Instead, create some space by not accepting their invitations, unless it’s in a group. Be far less open about yourself and don’t ask too much about them. If you are less available and less open, the friendship should decrease in intensity.
Who knows, maybe there’s a chance that things will improve down the track, but for now, it’s time to focus on the healthy relationships in your life.