How To End A Toxic Friendship Gracefully

Having good friends who love and care for you is vital to your physical and mental wellness. These friends bring joy and happiness to your life. But when you are stuck with the wrong sets of friends who bring you down, you become all messed up. Toxic friends are like viruses in a system. They are infective agents that exist to eat up the better part of you. Getting rid of toxic friends can be hard and chaotic if not handled with care. There are however strategies to help you end a toxic friendship gracefully. You wouldn’t want to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth. Would you? But first thing first. You need to be able to identify a toxic friend. That is where to begin.

How To Tell If A Friend Is Toxic 

If you are beginning to feel stressed, drained, and unnecessarily disturbed around some set of friends, watch it. These could be signs you are hanging with the wrong friends. Toxic friends cause you more harm than good. They can sniff-out life from you and lead you to an untimely grave. So, you need to constantly evaluate your friendship. It is a necessary step to help you spot toxic friend signs and develop an appropriate elimination strategy.

How do you tell if a friend is toxic? It simple. Watch out for these obvious and subtle signs. Here are some very conspicuous signs of toxicity in friendship.

Jealousy

This is quite different from healthy competition. While the later brings about personal improvement, the former is intended to downplay others’ achievements. Good friends cheer you up when you succeed and give you the support you need. But you know what, the toxic ones are never supportive. They covet everything about you and drag you down instead. 

Lie

When lies exist in friendship, it signals a doom. Toxic friends tell lots of lies to deceive. Their stories do not always add up. They constantly want to outsmart you with lies.

Aggression

Aggressive friends are toxic and destructive. They are quick to argue and get violent over little things. They are constantly seeking for fertile grounds to sow contentious seeds.

Gossip

Gossipers are the wrong choice of friends who only exist to spread rumors and misinformation about you. They chitchat behind you to spoil your repute before other friends. When you smell such, flee as fast as possible.

Subtle signs are even more tricky and harder to detect. You will have to put your nose to the ground to sniff out these.

Grudges

When your “bestie” keeps grudges against you, you know toxicity has set in. You might have noticed that he/she frequently keeps records of your mistakes and use them against you right? That is toxic. A good friend should not justify his present misbehavior with your past wrongdoings.

Selfishness

It did be better to have no friends than to have self-centered ones. You give them all your support but don’t get to find them around when you need help. They make excuses for their absence. They are only interested in whatever affects them and care less about you.

Secrecy

Friendship is sharing. A good friend is willing to share his experiences, issues, expectations, plans and other details with trusted friends in exchange for advice. He/she doesn’t keep secrets unnecessarily. He also listens to others when they share things that border them or are important to them. He picks interest in the detail of others too. 

Criticism

While it is good to have honest and constructive critiques from friends, toxic friendship only breeds negative criticism. Toxic friends pass critical judgments and shame you. They don’t see anything good in what you do. What more? They criticize you to have a feel-good sense.

All these and more are what bad friends do. And you know what, hanging out with bad friends influences you negatively. Yes! Don’t be oblivious about this. You are who you hang out with. The effects of a bad company of friends know no boundaries. They transcend your physical, emotional, and psychological being.

Toxic Friends Can Affect Your Life In The Following Ways :

Bad friends affect your self-confidence. As they continue to treat you unworthily, your belief and self-confidence are hampered. You might begin to experience low self-esteem.

-Friends who give judgmental rather than constructive critique about you infect you with bad emotions. They leave you depressed all the time.

-Friends that are aggressive can affect your behavior over time. Constant contact with them could teach you how to become like them.

-Bad friendships can also post a threat to your mental health. Stress from a toxic friendship can pose a risk of mental illness and disease.

Friends change our world views, beliefs, attitudes in life. Good friends make you better. The result of bad friendship is never positively skewed. It is better imagined than experienced.

How To End Toxic Friendship Gracefully

Friends who put you down are not worth keeping up with. Friendship is optional so, you don’t have to stick with toxic friends forever. You can choose to exist and bid the friendship goodbye. But think twice before you do. If you must, you might want to explore different ways to get rid of friends who bring you down.

Some unhealthy ways like ending a friendship over the phone/chat, cutting off all contact, and becoming unreceptive might not help out in the long run. You should avoid such because it could add salt to your injury. Consider these strategies instead. They can help you end a toxic friendship gracefully.

The Slowly Fade Out Strategy

This is the best non-confrontational approach to ending a toxic friendship. You gradually end contact points with your toxic friends. This means you don’t call, text, email or message them in whatever way. You should also reduce physical contact. If you attend the same meetings with such friends, for instance, try to reduce your attendance. You could be less accommodating, listen less, be less patient and don’t try to make them see reasons with you if you disagree on issues. Just put up an “I don’t care attitude”.  After all, you desire to end the relationship in the first place. So this strategy is soft, gentle, natural and doesn’t hurt. The insensitive friends might not even notice your withdrawal. They may not also bother that much if they do. But for the emotional friends, they could begin to wonder why and ask questions. If this happens, you will have to consider adopting the second strategy.

The Constructive Talk Strategy

This is a confrontational but graceful approach to ending a toxic friendship. It spells out each parties’ stand in a friendship. You talk through things with your friends in an amicable manner. You could explore issues around miscommunication, a misconstruction of meanings and the difficulties you have had over time. Constructive talk can result in a total end of the friendship or resolve and fresh perspective of the friendship. However, there are dos and don’t to ending a toxic friendship through constructive talk.

The Don’t

Do not talk over text or phone call. It has to be face to face.

The Dos

-Choose a comfortable and relaxing location for your talk.

-Plan the content of your conversation to prevent deviation.

-Be a good listener as well as a speaker. Remember it is a conversation and not a monologue.

-Use the personal pronoun ‘I’ than ‘you’. Avoid the word ‘you’ to prevent pointing accusing fingers to others.

Letter Writing Strategy

This is also a graceful way of ending a toxic friendship. It is effective when you do not want the other party to be kept in the dark but desire to avoid a face to face conversation. It could be the best strategy if you are an emotional type. Here are a few tips to note when writing your letter.

-Consider the other party’s feelings. Even if they are less concerned about losing you, choose to avoid cruel words in your letter.

-Open the letter with positive statements. You could start with good memories or traits that your friends possess. This will show that you care a little.

-State your intent clearly. You want to end the friendship right? Make this known in good time.

-Provide some reasons for your decision. You could state instances or events that necessitate your decision.

-Apologize for your mistakes and wrongdoing while the friendship lasted.  With this, your friends will know you are not outrightly blaming them for all that made the relationship strain.

-Restate your intent to end the friendship so that they get the message. This prevents a push back from your friends or an attempt to rebuild the friendship.

Friends who put you aren’t worth your time, care and love. You do not have to be stuck with them for life. You will do yourself a great favor to end such a toxic friendship. But before you do, purse and think through it. Choose to end it gracefully. Do not be forced to just dump them even if the deserved to be dumped. Consider fading them out gradually, talking it over with them, or writing them a letter to end the friendship. Whichever method you choose, ensure you stay positive and make yourself happy at the end. Remember, twenty friends cannot play for twenty years; thus, it is normal for friends to come in and out of your life.

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