Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
8 Tips On How To Deal With A Toxic Friend
Published Nov 16th, 2020 & updated on Mar 20th, 2021
Ahhh yes, the toxic friend. The one who makes you feel like hanging out with them is a chore. Drama is flying left, right and centre and is always holding you down…”omg did I tell you about Alicia??” No, and ffs you don’t need to. Do you have a friend who tries to control you and manipulate your time, your energy, your hobbies, your other friends, your everything else? Yeah, that really sucks and it crosses some important boundaries. And the hard part is that your friend probably has a lot of great qualities that you love about them. But just because you have things in common and tons of history, doesn’t make their toxic behaviour okay. Unfortunately, this means you need to learn how to deal with a toxic friend. Fortunately, this means you get to hang out with us for 6 minutes while you read this.
How To Deal With A Toxic Friend
If it feels like they’ve been given 13258 chances to turn things around, you’re probably stuck in a vicious cycle. You’ve set clear boundaries with them and explained how their behavior makes you feel. You’ve forgiven them over and over, even if they don’t deserve it. You’ve tried to save the friendship so many ways, but they aren’t putting in the same effort. And even though you really care for them, deep down you know things are just not. gonna. change. Let’s dive into what you should do when it’s time to finally let go.
1. Remember It’s Okay To Move On
If it seems like having them in your life is doing more harm than good, it’s probably time to say goodbye. Nobody wants to say goodbye to their BFF – the second F does stand for FOREVER, after all. But even though this is one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do, it’s okay to part ways. Choosing your own happiness is never something you should feel guilty about. And as much as it really fucking hurts to leave a friendship behind, you deserve better. Your wellbeing should = priority #1.
2. Make Your Decision Clear
Now that you’ve made the decision to end a toxic friendship, it’s time to follow through. Look, confrontation sucks. It’s uncomfortable and scary, especially when you’re not sure how your friend will react. Chances are, it’s gonna be a pretty heavy conversation. But in order to move on, you’re gonna need to be honest. Explain how you’ve made this decision and why ending this friendship is what’s best for you. Be as clear as possible: “This friendship isn’t healthy and I need to do what’s best for me. Please don’t contact me anymore.” You don’t need to be mean, so avoid name-calling or accusations that could lead to a blow up. Remember: this isn’t a fight. You’re aiming for a level-headed, short conversation.
How you choose to have this talk is totally up to you. If you feel safe, in person is probably best. Try practicing what you want to say before you meet. But if you feel safer doing it over the phone or text, that’s okay. Conversations over text can be tricky so again: be blunt but fair. A brief message that explains your choice and asking to end contact is enough.
If the toxic friendship has been going on for a while, your friend might struggle a bit with accepting your decision. They might try to guilt trip you or ask for another chance. You have to choose if it is worth giving them another shot. But if you’ve been down that road a few times before, you have to make it very clear that this is the end.
Which brings us to the next tip…
3. Limit Contact
In order to really move on, you gotta limit all contact with this friend. Even if your words were clear, your actions have to be clearer. Don’t answer their texts or calls. Unfollow them on social media. There’s no reason to keep any form of communication open or ways for them to infiltrate your life again. You might be worried of seeming petty but keep in mind: you’re cutting them out for a reason. And if worse comes to worst, you know where the ‘block’ button is.
4. Lean On Your Support Team
If you’ve been dealing with a toxic friendship, chances are the other people in your life know all about it. Maybe they saw the red flags even before you did! Ending a friendship is the worst, and you’re gonna need all of the support you can to get through it. Reach out to the people in your life who you can really trust. You’ll feel less alone during this tough time.
If your toxic friend runs in some of the same circles, make it clear to your other friends that you’ve ended contact with them. Don’t forget about those personal boundaries! Explain what you need from your friends to move forward. Maybe you ask that they don’t share any news about your now ex-friend with you, and vice versa. Remind them that you don’t want to show up to events where the ex-friend will be. If they want what’s best for you, they’ll respect your wishes.
5. Let Go Of Bad Feelings
Saying goodbye to a toxic friendship also means letting go of all the pent up anger, frustration, resentment and overall shitty emotions you’ve been dealing with over time. And even if you’re hoping for some kind of apology from your now ex-friend, you have to learn to be okay without hearing one. Sometimes, we have to make the closure we need.
6. Give Yourself Time To Grieve
Let’s be real, friendship breakups aren’t any easier than romantic ones. Sometimes they’re even worse. So give yourself time to process. Even if it was the right choice for your mental wellbeing, you’re still dealing with a huge loss. It’s okay to remember all of the good times you had together. The friendship meant something to you. But take it easy – you will get through this!
7. Find Healthy Ways To Fill The Void
Toxic friendships can take up a LOT of your time and energy. Now that it’s over, maybe you have some extra space in your life for something new! This can be a fresh start and a chance to make time for yourself. It’s also the perfect time to meet positive people and develop better, healthier relationships that won’t drag you down. So get out there! You deserve to be happy.
8. Reflect On The Lessons
Even though this experience fucking sucks, it came with important lessons. Moving forward, ask yourself: What am I looking for in a friend? What does a healthy friendship mean to me? Maybe you also learned more about your personal boundaries or how to set boundaries with friends. Or how to recognize behaviours that are totally not okay, ever.
We know making the decision to let go of your toxic friend wasn’t easy. It’s as shitty, if not worse, than a breakup. It won’t be easy but years from now (maybe even months from now) you’ll look back on your decision and be proud that you took care of your wellbeing. Allllllllll of these lessons will help guide you in future friendships – and you’ll be able to recognize the good ones!