Cutting Toxic Ties; The Friends We Shouldn't Keep
The biggest lesson I've learned as I work on my Mental Health is that some people are just not conducive to the positive vibe I'm trying to create.
The hardest part of this lesson? Some friends are harder to cut out than others. The harder part? Sometimes these people make you the happiest in the moment. But the choices their friendship may sway you into making and the emotional states they put you in after the fact are some of the worst parts of having them in your life.
To make things easier, here are some of the types of toxic friends one can have:
- Classic/Pretender - The classic toxic friend is not and never was your friend. These are easy to spot. Subtly putting you down and usually the root of drama and spilled secrets. This person is out to get you whether they be jealous or just an overall nasty person. They pretend to be your friend to get what they need for ammunition, then they spill it all over...with extras.
- Subtle - The subtle toxic friend isn't necessarily looking to cheat you. They more so take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself. This person "forgets" to invite you to things or maybe will treat the group to food and "forget" yours. Everyone is standing around having a conversation? This person will be sure to change the subject the moment you say something interesting.
- Indirect - This person isn't a friend. They're a friend of a friend. These people make things the hardest by making an actual friend impossible to be around.
- Helper - The helper toxic friend always has their two cents. A suggestion or an "I do it this way" story is helpful on the outside but purely controlling on the inside. These are hardest to spot. A true friend will respect your choices even if they offer another outlook or solution. This toxic friend will make you feel bad for a choice that may have been good for you solely because you didn't do it their way.
- Love Interest - These can be beyond complicated. Sometimes they turn out to be amazing relationships or if things don't work out the friendship can still stay in tact. On the flip side, these friendships can easily become unrequited love situations and really take a toll on your emotions. This friend hardly means to hurt you. But their presence can become painful enough to make their friendship no longer worth it.
Understanding that you may have a toxic friend on your hands still doesn't make it easier to step away. But it's a start.
You have the choice to completely remove them from your life but you can also choose to treat them differently. Give them less of your time and energy. This approach can sometimes lead to the friendship ending in a smoother way. The abrupt approach isn't for everyone.
There are things you have to accept when it comes to the task of handling a toxic friend;
- It will not be pretty. There may be tears, or yelling, it may affect other friends, or sometimes a fight could ensue.
- Talking is an option but be advised; it will still not be pretty. Toxic friends don't (or sometimes can't) change because they're not your friend to begin with.
- It's for the better no matter what. This person may offer joy for the moment but think about how you really feel at times. Joy should not come at a price.
- You cannot withstand a toxic friend. No matter how strong you think you are you cannot and should not allow someone to treat you poorly or feed you negativity just because they bring around a good time every so often.
- You will miss them, oddly enough. But other things and better friends can fill the space.
At this exact moment in my twenty five years I am having a friend crisis. Or at least I think I am...
I think back to high school and all the friends I had. Then college was a cluster of people trying to figure out how to be adults. I went from so many friends to a handful. Now...I can call on one person for sure...maybe two.
Realizing that some of the people on the outskirts of these two people I can count on were possibly toxic was hard. But with all the signs there I didn't need to keep forcing myself to be friends with them. People only "forget" to invite you to things so often before it's no longer an accident.
"Stop allowing these people to cause you pain." I told myself.
Now I'm telling you.
Go forth and cut out the unnecessary. You'll be better for it.