Changing Toxic Friendships:
Maybe we should make this goodbye the last
A few weeks ago we talked about recognizing the toxic friend. I’m sure we all could picture some people that match the different types or at least came really close. Well the next part is the real work; “what to do next?” Seems simple right; well like all unhealthy relationships ending; it usually is far from simple. So when discussing the ending of a toxic relationship, trust me, I know this one thing for sure; it is better to deal with ending it healthy because if not it will become emotionally draining, fragmented and/or downright ugly.
I remember the first time I decided that it was clearly time I end a toxic friendship. I was in my late teens or early twenties; in an effort to hide this ex-friend’s identity, I’m going to paint the picture of why I ended the friendship in a broad stroke. This friend “Single-White Femaled” me to the point I thought I was losing my mind; I mean she started dressing like me, styling her hair like mine and what started off as flattery quickly became obsessive. She even went so far as to tell my boyfriend at the time that I was cheating on him so that he would “not take up so much of my time” and yes that is a quote…I can tell you right now my story is an example of letting the warning signs of “toxic” slide out of immaturity on my part. To resolve this problem I simply stopped dealing with this person, would not hang out with mutual friends and avoided the conversation or the confrontation, keeping this relationship from having a healthy ending…But like I said I was young.
Looking back there were a number of things I could have done differently. I would have asked myself, how do I treat those I care for in my life? If your friends don’t reflect those same expectations, or they have the tendency to drain you emotionally, hold you hostage with their issues and offer little support in your times of need or happiness, it’s time for an evaluation, positive confrontation and a resolution.
Evaluate the Relationship
When people hear evaluate in relationship to a toxic relationship, it seems like an easy step, Unhealthy = termination of friendship. The truth is that a friendship is a relationship; like all relationships, there may be things in it worth saving. This means you may not need to formally end the friendship, just adjust to the new stage you are entering. Time and space can create the mature distances needed to shape your new friendship. After a while, if the space or time apart did not create a major change in your relationship, an ending may be in store.
Ending a friendship can be one of the toughest things a person has to do. The truth is, if you valued the person at one time, then the least you can do is have a conversation. The conversation should be in person; not an email, text or anything written that can be misunderstood. The reality is that if you have been friends for years, there is no need to add salt to the wound. Be honest about what you are feeling, keep it short, and tell them what was done to get to this point. Let them respond to what you are expressing and if what they offer does not satisfy you; let them know it is just simply time to move on.
Now that it has ended, the reality that you have to move on will kick in. You have to be okay with your decision and the reasons for it. You have a right to be peaceful, loving and overall healthy friendships.