Learning how to stop a toxic friendship starts with recognizing when things have become harmful
Some people have all the luck in the world and never had to deal with a snarky, nasty person they consider a “friend.” But if you’re reading this blog, then you’re likely not one of the lucky ones — and for that, we’re sorry.
Frenemies come in all shapes and sizes. And sometimes, you don’t even know they’re toxic until their fangs are sunk deep in your neck (metaphorically speaking, we hope).
It happens. You realize a person isn’t a friend, and it would be far better just to spend time alone. But kicking them out of your life can be tricky.
Never fear: it can be done. Here are some tips on how to stop a toxic friendship before it does more damage.
1. Stop brushing off the toxicity
It’s perfectly natural to brush some things off as just a personality trait. A friend is chronically late? Sure, go ahead and say, “Well, that’s just Bernice.”
A friend shows up early with his shirt buttoned wrong? “Typical Kyle!”
But a friend says something scathing about your appearance, it sends you reeling, and they laugh about the comment and say they were joking? That’s probably not acceptable. Cruelty isn’t something you should ever chalk up to them just being them.
If it bothers you, it bothers you. You can tell a toxic person you’re uncomfortable, but many won’t recognize this damage and apologize. Instead, they may turn it on you by saying you’re too sensitive or weak — when they’re really just being a total ***hole.
Thus, the first step in how to stop a toxic friendship — or maybe even changing one — is holding them accountable. Don’t shrug your shoulders and think that’s just the way they are.
The problem is the way they are, in some cases. And if they can’t help themselves, they should be that person somewhere far, far away from you.
Realize what a jerkface this individual is and why that’s not acceptable in your life.
2. How to stop a toxic friendship, reprise
There are a few different ways you can end a toxic relationship. And how to do that depends on who they are, how they’ve pissed you off, and what’s best for your mental wellbeing. Here are three strategies:
- Slowly pull back. This isn’t at all like ghosting them. It means giving both of you distance a little at a time, drawing away enough that it seems natural — you're just falling out of touch. Slowly pulling back is useful when you don't want a huge confrontation, but you know you want them gone.
- Give them the boot. Sometimes, enough is enough, and you have to end things immediately. This is similar to breaking up with someone, and it takes a lot of guts. Sit them down and tell them it’s not working for you, and you’re going your own way. But be fully prepared for your ex-friend to turn the tables and not accept any of the blame. Because obviously: that’s typical Karen.
- Ghosting. This can be a bad way to do it and something not recommended lightly. But stopping a toxic friendship when there’s abuse involved may require drastic measures. Block them. Delete them. Shut them down immediately. If they’re abusive, your number-one concern should always be your safety and mental wellbeing.
3. Stop blaming yourself
The chances are high that you’ll blame yourself (at least a little) once things end. This friend has probably made you feel like you’re the problem over and over again — so, feeling responsible will probably come naturally.
And blaming ourselves also comes naturally when we suffer from the Scaries on the regular. But you can’t assume responsibility for everything. And certain people are just ****s.
Learning how to stop a toxic friendship often doesn’t end with stopping the friendship. The trauma may be there for a while, depending on the severity of their behavior. Don’t make it worse by accepting all the blame — learn to let it go when you let go of them.
4. Make new friends
It might be worthwhile to write down the red flags of that toxic friendship so you know what to look out for in other relationships. Now, the hard part: making new friends.
You’ve just lost someone. And while it’s nearly the same as a death, there’s still grief that goes along with it. Sure, you’re probably going to feel really liberated. But it’s still a loss.
New, positive relationships can eliminate that pain. If making new friends is tough for you, try investing more energy into existing relationships and watch them flourish!
Life’s too short for jerks — and the Scaries
Now that you've learned how to stop a toxic friendship — and hopefully gotten yourself out of a lousy sitch — it's time to relax a little.
Enjoy the little things. Cherish your loved ones and friends who don’t make you feel like crap. Approach things with less weight on your back and fewer snide comments or guilt trips tearing you down.
This can be easier said than done, of course. A lot of us deal with the Scaries, whether they are on Sunday or the daily. CBD may become your new BFF in this regard. (Though, if you're sharing your innermost thoughts with a bottle of gummies, we can’t say that’s too healthy.)
But CBD can help you chill out, get out of your own head, and focus on what matters — including
the people who actually love you and want the best for you. Make those folks count!