So last week I looked at the importance of friendships and finding ways to stay connected to our friends. This week I want to go in the opposite direction and talk about toxic relationships. Many of us have grown up placing a lot of importance on our friendships. Friends often help us get through tough times, get out of trouble (or into it), and are good all-around supports. While friendships may grow and fade throughout our lifetime, it seems like that most has to do with where we are at in our lives and what we have in common. For example, we might not be as close with a friend who is married with children if we are living the single life. So while friendship may change over the years, it can be really difficult to choose to deliberately end a friendship.
Spotting a toxic friendship can be the first challenge. Many of us find it much easier to spot a negative intimate relationship than friendship. We might be more likely to excuse their behavior because they are just a friend, or because they have been in our life for so long. I think it is really important though to pay attention to how the friends in our life make us feel. Like any relationship, our friendships should add more positive to our life than negative. If your friendships are more stressful than supportive, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.
How do we break up with a friend? If possible, I think being honest is the best way to go. Communicate to your friend that you need a break or need to end the friendship. Focus the conversation or your feelings and what you want for yourself. Your friend’s response may help bring some peace to your decision. If your friend is rude or negative, it may reassure that you made the right choice. If they are upset yet supportive maybe the friendship can be salvaged. If taking a direct approach doesn’t seem like the best fit or you unsure if you want to end the friendship, creating some distance might be a place to start. Busy yourself with other activities and relationships. The more time away from a negative friends, the easier it will be to get a clear mind about what you want for yourself and the relationship. Often we can’t see how destructive a relationship is until we are out of it. Remember that friendships are a choice just like an intimate relationship, so choose wisely.