Recently, I’ve reconnected with my childhood best friend and we’ve been spending more quality time together than we have in quite some time. We both lead such busy lives that it’s hard to keep up with each other so during our time together, we spend a lot of time catching up and reflecting. Yesterday, we got on the subject of toxic friends. It all started with a simple question – “How are you and X?”. There was a moment of awkward silence before I gathered my thoughts and said “I haven’t talked to X in months… she’s not really a part of my life anymore”. Understandably, my friend was surprised and confused by my response, and so we got to talking about toxic friends.
We all have a toxic friend or two at some point in our lives, whether we know it or not. The worst part about having toxic friends is that it can be so difficult to pinpoint if someone is or isn’t a toxic friend, especially when you’re blinded by the really, really good moments. There are so many different kinds of toxic friends: friends who expect you to drop everything you’re doing to help them, but are never around when you need it; friends who are constantly complaining about themselves, other people and even you; friends that you always have to reach out to for plans; friends that always have to have higher highs or lower lows than you; friends who can’t let you be in the spotlight for even a moment; and friends who can only hang out with you when you’re both inebriated are just a few examples.
I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m constantly asking myself “Does this make me happy?”. As cliche as it sounds, life is far too short to do things that don’t bring you happiness. Hate your job? Leave it. Hate your major? Switch it. Don’t like going to the bar? Stop going. The same should apply to the people you spend your time with. If your friend brings negativity into your life more often than she brings you joy, that’s a sign that they’re toxic and it’s probably time to cut ties.
Once, someone told me that you become the people you spend your time with. I have no idea who told me this, but I could not thank them enough. I don’t want to become someone who makes my friends feel ashamed of who they are, who always has to be better than someone else, who has to be drunk to have a good time, or someone who brings negativity and takes happiness from someone else. I don’t want to become a toxic friend just because I’m too afraid to get rid of my own.
I know. It’s so hard to leave a friend behind when you’ve spent so many days, weeks, months and years together. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who you’ve shared birthdays with, grieved over broken hearts with and celebrated successes with. But take this as your sign. It may be hard, but it’s okay.
You don’t have to cause some huge ordeal or confrontation to get rid of your toxic friends. It can be as simple as spending more time with people who you’re proud to be friends with, and less time with your toxic friend. More often than not, if they’re a toxic friend, they probably won’t even notice that you’ve stopped putting in the effort anyway. That’s how it worked in my situation.
Once the friendship fizzled out, I noticed that I was still feeling negative every time X would post something on social media. So I took it upon myself to unfollow her on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I stopped responding to the insincere, obligatory “I miss you” texts. I didn’t cause a dramatic scene. I just silently let things naturally fall apart. It was tough to hit the unfollow button and to delete texts but I’m so much happier without someone dragging me down with them.
By cutting ties with a toxic friend, you’re not losing the good memories. You’ll always have those. By cutting ties, you’re losing the hurt feelings and negative energy. You’ll become more proud of the person you’re becoming and the people you surround yourself with.
It’s not going to be easy. But it will be okay.