How to deal with a toxic friendship and save yourself
Are you in a toxic friendship and don’t really know what to do next?
Friends are indeed an essential part of our lives and our life becomes joyful having them. However, when you’re having a toxic friend or are dealing with a toxic friendship, your life turns miserable. Imagine, how would you feel knowing your best friend is no longer the same as you always thought her to be. Isn’t it soul degrading and painful?
For my entire life, I always thought having a companion or a best friend is what makes life blissful and worth all the joy. I used to make many friends and carry my heart on my sleeve. However, at times, people aren’t what we always think.
You may be home to someone but when you need their shoulder to lean on; they’re not always there. It was super tricky for me to accept that the person whom I thought as my best friend, would ditch me when I needed her the most.
This toxic friendship made me hate the word friend and I really find it hard trusting someone. Toxic friends have certain traits and it’s not noticeable if you don’t pay close attention.
If you’re dealing with toxic friendships and have no idea how to handle or help yourself; this piece is solely for you. I exactly know how it feels to be left by your best friend of 7-8 years without any explanation or clue. It’s hard to even imagine, but know this; you deserve so much more than your toxic friends and it’s high time to leave a toxic friendship.
Signs that you’re in a toxic friendship
Sometimes, we have no idea that we are in a toxic friendship, and being with toxic friends causes more harm than happiness. If you’re wondering how to know if you’re in a toxic friendship, here’re some warning signs.
Though these signs were clearly visible to me, I never paid close attention and then suffered in the end. I hope you don’t repeat the same.
1. You’re always in competition with them
Being in a healthy competition does no harm. When you’re in the same field or have the same interests, it’s totally okay to have that competitive spirit. This indeed helps us grow. But, if you’re constantly in the race of beating your best friend or affecting your health for the same, you really need to re-think. This spirit of competition shouldn’t leave you miserable.
This totally is a sign that you’re dealing with a toxic friendship if you don’t have a good feeling about each other at the end of the day.
2. They put you down
This reminds me of Raj’s and Howard’s friendship from TBBT ( did I mention I’m a huge fan of TBBT). Having fun or making jokes about your friends is indeed normal if you’re laughing and happy about it. However, a toxic friend never realizes when he/she crosses the boundaries.
They demean you regularly or make you feel miserable. It isn’t healthy being around such humans. Dealing with a toxic friendship isn’t easy but you need to take a stand for yourself when they cross the limits.
I do have some helpful tips on dealing with toxic friendships and saving your sane; keep reading.
3. Gossip about you
Know that if your friend is gossiping about a third person in front of you, they aren’t leaving you off the table as well. If your friend is not able to hold a secret and slips it as soon as you leave; she either can’t hold it or doesn’t care about your feelings. Be mindful of what you’re sharing with your friends.
It’s okay if it happened once or twice but if your friend does this always, you better be careful.
4. Don’t respect your boundaries
Toxic friends certainly have no idea what boundaries even are. They just show up uninvited or don’t give you the space you need. These people cross your boundaries and make you feel miserable for not doing what they intend to, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
You see, dealing with such toxic friends is troublesome especially when you’re introverted and sensitive. However, don’t unsee these red flags.
5. They’re self-centered
Have you noticed when you’re with your friends and they only talk about themselves? As if you don’t even exist.
For toxic people, everything is all about them. Whenever you start a conversation or explain to them how you’re feeling, they will always find a way to redirect it to themselves.
It’s not that they don’t wish to listen to your problems, they’re just so into themselves that they don’t care about how do you feel. These toxic friends only think about their own selves.
If you’ve ever felt this then my friend, you’re dealing with a toxic friendship. I can totally recall calling my friend to explain a troublesome situation and all I heard was; ‘this is nothing; here’s what happening to me’!!
6. They try to change you
Change is inevitable and sometimes it’s good to change for the better. But, if your friend keeps nagging you constantly for the change, you need to be cautious. Friends accept each other the way they’re. They don’t try to change your personality or change your authentic self. Sometimes, we are so into them that we forget our own individual self.
They try to mold us in their way and it’s difficult to even recognize who we actually are. If there’s a necessary change that helps you grow for good, it’s indeed welcoming.
Moreover, in order to have a smooth relationship; both parties should accept the change. When you’re the only one who keeps inviting the change; you’re indeed in a bad friendship.
7. Compare you with others
A genuine friend will never compare you with someone else. They accept and appreciate you for who you really are. On the other hand, a toxic friend always sets you on a comparison train. They compare you with their friends or siblings and force you to be the same.
We need to realize that we all are different individuals and it’s okay to not be like someone else. The main purpose of having a friend is that they accept you for your inner qualities, your character but when a toxic friend tries to manipulate you; you need to be super alert.
8. Leave you unsettled
Spending time with your friends is always so nourishing and you enjoy every single moment together. However, spending time with a toxic friend will leave you unsettled. You don’t feel happy as you should be feeling and at times you feel don’t feel like meeting them.
I remembered making fake excuses when I didn’t like meeting my best friend. I don’t know why but I used to feel a little demotivated and less of me after meeting her.
Dealing with a toxic friendship is indeed challenging when you keep ignoring these signs of a toxic friend.
9. They make you feel lonely
Even when you’re with them, you feel totally alone. It’s because they don’t always invite you in the conversation or it’s always about them. We really don’t feel involved when people just go on talking about something of their own lives.
Have you felt a kind of a lone wolf while being with your friend?
There are various ways a toxic friendship can affect you. Here’s how it goes:
The side effects of having a toxic friend or being in a toxic friendship:
As we looked through the signs of a toxic friend, it’s necessary to also notice the changes within after dealing with such toxicity. Here’s how an unhealthy friendship can affect you:
1. Your stress increases
When you’re with your toxic friend, you constantly try to prove yourself and you’re in some sort of competition. Because of this, the stress level increases and you don’t feel that peace and joy which you would otherwise feel with your best friend.
2. You feel isolated
Friends should technically be inviting and welcoming. We love spending time with them but in the case of a toxic friendship; it’s not the same. You avoid meeting them as their company makes you feel lonely and isolated. If you’ve been feeling this for some time now, take this as a sign and prepare yourself to take some firm decision.
3. You don’t feel supported
Do you feel constantly unsupported by your friend? Whenever you put up your point or try out something new, instead of encouraging and motivating you, a toxic friend questions all your decisions. I have personally experienced this.
Every time when I had something interesting to tell, my friend used to bring out some negative vibes and I used to feel so low. I hardly felt supported in her company and it was high time for me to realize that I was in a toxic friendship.
4. You don’t feel your authentic self
When you’re with your toxic friend, you don’t feel like your own self. It’s as if someone is trying to change or manipulate you. While in the real sense, a true friend helps in the journey of self-discovery. You feel more lively in their presence.
5. You find it difficult to trust people
This is what happened to me while I was dealing with a toxic friendship. After understanding and realizing it, it became super challenging for me to trust people. Imagine having a friend for 10 long years and receiving a betrayal from the same; it was not easy to handle. I had so many questions but there was no one to answer.
From that point, I have become a reserved person and it’s difficult for me to open up at times. It’s only my journal that knows me inside out and now this blog.
If you’re reading this and feeling the same, know that you’re not alone and I so appreciate you for being here. Do not let some unkind souls make you hate humanity. Not everyone we meet is alike. ( this is what I keep telling myself)
Now that you know you’re in a toxic friendship, how do you help yourself?
At times, it’s totally okay to give them a second chance. We all make mistakes and toxic people are toxic because of some life events. Maybe it’s not their fault always. That being said, it’s also possible that they remain the same.
And in such cases, it’s better to save yourself from such an unhealthy relationship. You surely don’t want to haywire your mental peace and spoil your health. Here’s what you can do to deal with toxic friendships and save yourself.
How to deal with toxic friendship? or How to get rid of a toxic friend?
Here’s how you can help yourself while dealing with a toxic friendship:
1. Set boundaries
If you’re really thinking of giving your friend a second chance, do it mindfully. It’s better to have some healthy boundaries. Know when to talk and meet such a friend and it’s completely alright to keep some distance.
Before getting back, just make it clear that you won’t handle their shitty behavior, and if they’re ready to respect your boundaries, they’re always welcomed. You need to take a stand for yourself here and be firm.
2. Communicate clearly
Be frank and straightforward here. Tell them what’s bothering you and why you no longer wish to continue this relationship. They would surely try to defend themselves but be careful. You know what you have experienced and felt, do not let yourself suffer again. Be direct ad put your point calmly.
3. Take time to think
If they’re forcing you to get back to normal, take a step back and think. As for the time to think and ponder if this friendship is worth all your effort and time. Do you really want to continue being friends with someone who made you feel miserable or hold yourself tight and move on?
It’s indeed difficult to break a lifelong bond but at times, we need to think about ourselves as well. You can’t keep degrading yourself just to be in a superficial friendship. Take your time to think hard.
4. Open up to others
It’s okay to take help from other friends or your loved ones while getting rid of a toxic friend. I can totally understand, there would be so much going on inside your head and it’s okay to have someone to listen and feel your emotions. Maybe, they will be able to give you a proper suggestion.
You can also consult a therapist if you need a lending ear and support in such a case.
Sometimes, even talking to a mutual friend helps. Chances are that they might have experienced the same and they may be able to render you some insights.
6. Avoid guilt trip
Sometimes, you will feel that you’re the one who’s thinking negatively. However, spare yourself from such thoughts. It’s not your mistake to think of ending the relationship. You’re just saving and helping yourself. Do not let such thoughts hinder your peace.
7. Take care of yourself
You will be drained; emotionally and mentally while dealing with toxic friendships. During this phase, it’s much more necessary to practice self-care. We as humans need time to heal and practicing self-care can aid your healing process. Here’s how you can practice self-care:
- Get enough rest-time
- Spend some alone time
- Indulge in some soothing activity ( below are my favorite product for some me time)
- Take care of your physical wellbeing
- Practice journaling
The bottom line – Dealing with a toxic friendship
Dealing with a toxic friendship is totally challenging and at times it leaves you in immense hurt and pain. I so hope that you find peace and solace soon. It’s totally okay to ask for help or support; know that you’re not alone in this. If you wish to vent or share your feelings; you can always send me an email. It’s your safe place.
In the end, I pray that you help yourself get rid of such unhealthy relationships and work for a better tomorrow. If this piece helped you in any way, feel free to leave a comment and join my newsletter.