Growth | Written by: Jessica Chen

How (And Why) to Get Rid of Toxic Friends

American entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

While this may seem like an overly simplistic way to look at your inner circle, there is some truth to it. When you have a busy lifestyle, it’s difficult to maintain a host of friendships. And since those we surround ourselves with heavily influence how we see and engage with the world around us, picking and choosing those select few becomes really important.

Not everyone should be part of your inner circle, especially if they’re toxic.

What’s a Toxic Friend?

Do you ever feel worse after hanging out with someone?

If you’re feeling this way, you may have a toxic friendship on your hands.

A toxic friend:

  • Creates unnecessary stress in your life
  • Takes more than they give
  • Makes you feel less than you’re worth
  • Drains you of time and energy

While not all friends who display this behavior are automatically toxic, if a friend habitually makes you feel this way, you should reexamine the effect this person has on your life.

If you suspect your friendship is bordering on the unhealthy, that’s when you make the executive decision whether or not it’s worth keeping this friend in your life.

When to Drop a Toxic Friend

If being friends with a person lowers your quality of life, it’s a good indication that you should drop this toxic friendship.

Drop a toxic friend when you’re:

  • Feeling a lack of control over your life
  • Having trouble functioning normally
  • Devoting more time and energy towards your friend than you have for yourself
  • Feeling overwhelmed

While it’s tough to think about cutting out a person you once considered a close friend, you also have to look out for your own well-being. Removing this toxic friend from your life is one way to take care of yourself.

Why You Should Drop That Toxic Friend

1. Toxic Friends Are Horrible for Your Mental Health

Toxic friends are horrible for your mental health because they continually put you down. Regardless of whether this toxicity stems from jealousy or pessimism, being around your friend’s constant criticisms and complaints wears down your self-esteem, no matter how strong you are.

These friends often aren’t happy with something about themselves and can’t prevent that insecurity from seeping out and affecting their inner circle. And while being insecure doesn’t make a person irredeemably bad, it also doesn’t excuse his or her harmful behavior.

In times like this, it’s better for you to take your mental health in your own hands and step away until your toxic friend is better able to manage him or herself.

2. Toxic Friends Reduce Your Productivity

Having toxic friendships reduces productivity because they soak up your time and drain your energy. Toxic friends will take advantage of social norms that dictate you shouldn’t leave your friends high and dry when they’re in need. And unless you’re a complete sociopath, when your friend comes to you feeling stressed, you will naturally want to help.

While it’s normal to want to help a friend who is going through a difficult time, if you find that they’re constantly wrapped up in drama, take a step back and assess whether or not you have the capacity to handle everything on your friend’s plate and yours.

If you find your friend’s problems starting to take over your life, start cutting this person out.

3. Toxic Friends Destroy Your Overall Well-being

When you add all the potential harm that a toxic friendship brings, it’s pretty clear that toxic friends destroy your overall well-being. Not only will your self-worth be under attack, but so will your self-efficacy and way of life.

Under these circumstances, be vigilant about making sure that you don’t lose yourself in these friendships. Keep a close eye on how you feel both when you’re in your friend’s presence and when you’re out of it.

If you find yourself feeling dangerously low after hanging out with a friend, start monitoring your interactions and look for positivity to inject into your life from another source.

How to Cut A Toxic Friendship Out of Your Life

1. Have an Honest Conversation

Once you’ve realized that a friend has been exhibiting toxic behavior, sit down with them and have an honest conversation.

Your conversation should cover:

  • How you’ve been hurt by your friend’s behavior
  • How your friend’s behavior has interfered with you living your life
  • How you feel about your friendship
  • How you hope things will change between the two of you

Most importantly, ask your friend whether or not they’re is willing to meet you halfway and put in the effort to make your friendship healthy again. If they’re not willing or become offended by your attempt to communicate, respect their decision and walk away.

2. Set Boundaries

If you decide to give your toxic friend a second chance, set strong boundaries so that you and your friend don’t accidentally fall back on pre-established dynamics. Take note of your own habits and stop sacrificing your time and energy unnecessarily.

3. Cultivate Other Friendships

Once you’ve identified a toxic friend, start cultivating other friendships. Create your own support system so that you never need to rely on that toxic friend for love and attention.

Not to mention, once you’ve nurtured other friendships, you’ll be reminded of what healthy friendships feel like and how you’re worth better treatment.

4. Refuse to Engage

If your toxic friend refuses to go quietly into the night and comes back with new drama after time apart, don’t engage. You already know what this person is capable of.

If this toxic friend’s antics are not what you want in your life, don’t feel bad about looking out for yourself and ghosting for a bit.

5. Allow Yourself to Grow Apart

Once you start showing your friend that they’re no longer a high priority in your life, allow things to take their course as you drift apart.

While it doesn’t feel great to be held in lesser regard by your friend, remind yourself of the reasons why you took these moves in the first place. Instead, celebrate the fact that you’ve taken the initiative to improve your life.

6. Put Yourself First

After distancing yourself from your toxic friend, remind yourself of your own self-worth by putting yourself first. Invest in self-care or complete that task you’ve been putting off in favor of addressing your friend’s issues. By prioritizing yourself, you’ll feel energized and ready to face the world again in no time.

Don’t Get Stuck in Toxic Friendships

Despite our strongest individualistic tendencies, the people we surround ourselves with influence us in powerful ways. Therefore, when selecting your friends, choose wisely so that you don’t find yourself unwittingly in a toxic friendship.

However, if you’re already dealing with a toxic friend, learn how to protect yourself by identifying his or her hurtful behavior and creating distance between the two of you.

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