It hurts to let go of a friendship. Everyone always talks about break ups only with dating, but it’s just as hard when a friendship ends.
Especially if you spent years with that friend where they were there for you through the highs and lows in your life.
Do you have any current friendships that you feel are no longer good for you? This is pretty common and the older you get, the more you see people for their true colors.
Some people can even be a good friend in the beginning, but later on change into someone else.
But how do you know if you have a friendship that you should let go? What are the toxic behaviors?
Signs of a toxic friend:
- Long-term unequal give and take, they just give breadcrumbs
- They consistently invalidate your feelings
- They’re jealous when you share your success and don’t support you
- You find that they’re gossiping about you or others
- They’re too clingy
- They constantly lie to you
- They’re a narcissist, everything is about them
It’s really hard to talk to a friend about ending the friendship without feeling guilty, but think of it as a form of self-care. It would be better for the both of you.
How to let go of a toxic friend
Identify what makes a good friendship to you
Have you ever thought of what the definition of a friend is to you? You might have listed the qualities you want in a romantic partner, but have you gave consideration on the types of friends you want around you? Or the types you don’t want around?
I remember when I was younger, I was so open to being friends with anyone. If they hung around me, I called them my friend and would give more than they gave me. It was when I pulled back, I realized the relationship was one-sided.
I didn’t get calls, texts, or requests to hang out. They just disappeared from my life.
I sat alone on the playground and cried asking, “God, why does no one want to be my friend?”
Every year, the same recurring theme appeared until I got to my last year of college. I was studying abroad and tried to be friends with everyone until I was excluded from a specific group.
That’s when it clicked that I don’t need to try to be someone’s friend. I prioritized being my own friend first and booked trips to travel the country all by myself.
When I prioritized being my own friend, I started to attract the right people because I didn’t need anyone just to have fun. I wasn’t seeking out fake friends anymore because they no longer interested me.
Now my good friends give as much as they take. They’re reaching out to me to ask how I’m doing and are supportive.
Learn what makes a bad friend
A bad friend is selfish and doesn’t care much about you. Or a friend who influences you to become a worse version of yourself.
Over the past few years, my mom told me she had a ton of bad friends who were narcissists.
Friends who only dealt with her when they needed something. Someone to talk to when they were going through difficult times, someone to hang out with.
Everything was about the other person and my mom constantly gave. She had to let go of a lot of friends and redefine what friendship meant to her as she went through a mid-life identity crisis.
This is what my mom told me:
“Just because somebody does something for you, that doesn’t make them your friend. Sometimes certain people will do something for you to make themselves feel good.”– My mom
Make time to have a conversation with them
Don’t end a friendship over text, especially if they are a close friend. I have done this a few times and it did not go well. They might misunderstand you and get angry, sending you multiple messages.
Share with them how you’ve been feeling about their actions and make sure to listen to what they have to say. You might find that they have some resentment towards you that you didn’t even know about.
You’ll need to prepare for possible harsh words from them. They could possibly be defensive and not agree with you. Make sure to provide examples and try to remain calm.
Reward yourself after for being mature and having the conversation!
If you have the conversation and they have not changed, end the friendship
At this point, you’ve set boundaries with that friend and they continue to cross them without a care? It’s time to end that friendship.
They have been given a verbal warning so it shouldn’t be surprising to them.
If they are gaslighting you and resisting change, then you will continue to deal with the same issues. You need to let them go.
If they continue to try to message you on social media or phone, block them.
Prepare a self-care treat for yourself after
You’ll feel really crappy afterwards, so plan to do something you like. You can feel your emotions and then plan fun activities to get you in a better mood.
Hang out with your other friends or family. Go somewhere new and get out the house.
Learn from the experience for future friendships
Now that the friendship is over, you have time to reflect on what went wrong and when. This can help you choose better quality friends.
You can also reflect on if there’s any qualities you need to change in yourself like are you a people pleaser? Are you not comfortable being alone? Do you have low self-esteem?
Take this time to work on yourself before you seek out new friends.
If you want a good friend, you have to be that good friend
Show up for your friends! Be there when they’re feeling down, buy them something for their birthday, and celebrate their successes.
There will be seasons there might not be equal give and take. That’s okay. Sometimes life happens.
A friendship should be mutual in the long-term. It’s okay not to have a ton of friends. Even just a few good friends is worth more than trying to fit in where you don’t feel you belong.
It’s completely normal not to have a lot of friends. The average person in the U.S. only has 3 to 5 friends with 12% saying they have no close friends.
Focus on being your own best friend and you’ll attract better people.