Toxic Friendships: When You Should Back Away

In life, especially in high school, friends come and go. There are friendships that do last for years and years, which I’ve experienced; and there are friendships that last maybe a month, which I’ve also experienced. It’s really tough to let go of a friendship, especially one that has lasted a very long time. But sometimes, there comes a time when you need to break off a friendship because it has become toxic. It’s hard to figure out whether a friend is a toxic friend, or if it’s just a problem that can be worked out. Here are some signs of a toxic friendship, and how to back away.

1. You provide them with something. Usually friends will give each other rides, borrow clothes, or help each other in other ways. But if it becomes a friendship in which your friend only calls you when they need something from you, you should take a good look at the situation. For example, a friend of mine has been troubled lately because a friend of hers – and an ex friend of mine – only wants to hang out with her when she needs a ride. Usually she’ll want a ride to the movies to meet some boy, which makes it awkward for my friend. friends should be friends all the time, not just when they need something.

2. They insult you. If someone is insecure, they will usually put down others in order to make themselves look good. Everyone talks about others once in a while, we’re humans. But if your friend is constantly putting you down in front of others, you need to stand up for yourself. Friends don’t make friends feel bad about themselves, especially on purpose.

3. They take advantage of your weaknesses. Here is an example: one of my major flaws is that I am one of the most forgiving human beings on the planet. If someone wrongs me, I will be quick to let them back into my life. Rather than helping you to gain strength in the areas where you are weak, a toxic friend will take advantage. If you are forgiving, like me, the person will know they can treat you badly and still be forgiven. If you can never say no to people, a toxic friend will take advantage and ask a million favors of you. A friend will not walk all over you, they will help you be stronger.

If you see these three things as a pattern in a friend, take it as a red flag. Re-examine your friendship and see if you are putting more into it than you are getting out.

“Oh no! I’ve got a toxic friend! What do I do?”

Confront your friend about what is going on. Demand respect and tell them that if they don’t change then you can no longer be a part of this friendship. Don’t do this in an attacking way, do it in a calm and fair way. Be willing to listen to anything they have to say about the type of friend you’ve been.

If they don’t change you can do one of two things: 1) Confront them again until they change (this won’t work usually), or 2) Sit them down and explain to them that you valued their friendship but you cannot be disrespected.  You can continue to be casual with this person, but don’t keep as close of a friendship as you had. Surround yourself with positive people, distract yourself, and let yourself be happy.

lastly, be proud of yourself for standing up for yourself and demanding respect. that is a huge accomplishment.

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