Dear Friend, I Am Breaking Up With You!
When you think of toxic relationships, what‘s the first thing that pops into your head? The answer to that, thanks to our pop-cult lifestyle and the influence mainstream media exudes on us, would be an unhealthy romance. This is because of the way we have been conditioned into only correlating toxicity to romantic relationships. Hence, often you are blind to the harmful friends you harbor in your lives.
Now, have you ever questioned whether the friends in your life are a positive influence or not? How healthy or unhealthy are these people for you? Often, destructive friendships as a concept is ignored, dismissed or not given much thought.
Here’s some food for thought: romantic relationships may come and go at this point in your life, but your friendships last forever. So why take them for granted and let your complacency blind you to their slowly rotting nature?
Here are 5 things I have to say as a relatively self-aware youth with no time for toxic people in her life:
1. Identifying The Problem
“Dear Friend, if you are a constant source of my unhappiness, you are toxic for me. Kindly take the exit to your left and take your negativity with you. Thanks.”
Who really is a toxic friend? Simply put, it is someone who makes you feel bad about yourself, makes you unhappy and brings out the worst in you. Manipulation, dismissive and selfish behavior, tendency to pull you down at all times - do you sense signs of such behavior? You might have a toxic friendship on your hands.
2. Refusal To Engage
“Dear Friend, I refuse to throw accusations at each other like water balloons during Holi anymore. They feel like stones now. There is more to life than just your petty games and immature arguments.”
Being in a friendship that turns sour is like jumping into a pit with your friend. Both of you are trapped, miserable and trying not to blame the other but failing. The right step, for your mental health, is climbing out of that hole alone instead of staying in there with someone. No one deserves that constant stress in their lives.
“Dear Friend, I have always looked the other way for your faults, made excuses for you, given you all the benefit of the doubt - only to be disappointed. Not anymore.”
What do you do when your insecure friend projects their self-doubt onto you? What if supporting them only pulls you down? Not much to be honest. As a part of the smartphone generation, a great percentage of our relationships are shallower than we are aware of. With the ability to emotionally invest in people rapidly decreasing as the years go by, it gets harder to differentiate between the good and the bad when you don't know the difference. This could be why you’ve been blind to your friend’s unhealthy behavior all this time.
4. Symptoms of Withdrawal
“Dear Friend, I know you’re bad for me but can we talk? You’ve always been there and maybe I’m used to you but, this time, could you listen?”
Speaking from experience, no matter how much that one friend belittles you, manipulates your emotions or takes advantage of your friendship, breaking away from them is harder than it seems on paper. When you experience abuse over and over again, you get used to it. You rationalize, you make excuses, you remind yourself of the good times to cover up the bad. After all, how bad can this person be? Toxic friends are hard to let go of, like an addiction.
5. Fight Or Flight
“Dear Friend, my mind is at war - I want to be selfish, yet I want to protect what we have. I want to leave your negativity behind, I want to understand you. My mind is tired.”
Do you constantly find yourself at a crossroads when it comes to this friend? Do you feel conflicted, confused, or cautious around them? Don’t hesitate to make it about yourself because it is. It may not feel like it, but being an adult means being able to curate your inner circle how you curate your Instagram feed. Take the time to decide what kind of break you want - the slow fade, or cold turkey; stay back and work on the dying relationship, or make a clean cut and part ways; fight or flight.
“Dear Toxic Friend, I chose my sanity and mental health over you this time.”
Just like a romantic breakup, breaking up with a friend is hard, guilt-inducing and stressful. Some friendships can be resolved, while the others are too far gone. Confront, convince and if not, then let go. Walking away is sometimes the best choice because you deserve better.