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How to Get Out of a Toxic Friendship

by Karen Kleinschmidt

You've worked on your friendship for some time; you've tried to see the positive traits in your friend and use them to the best of your ability to bring out the best in the both of you. But still, no real change has occurred. It has left you feeling tired, drained and depleted. You have made the final decision; there is nothing else for you to do but part ways with your toxic friend. The frustrating part is, how do you go about doing just that?

Create Distance

There are times when a toxic friendship can be healed through time spent apart. Creating distance between you and your friend may help to give her the insight to see how her behavior is eating away at your friendship. Drop subtle hints if you are able and slowly ease your way out of the depths of the relationship. Wait a day or two before answering a phone call, tell her you are busy when she asks to get together and get involved in other activities, if possible, where you are less likely to run into her.

Acquaintances

Sometimes the best way to rid yourself of a toxic friend is to not completely eliminate her from your life. Susan Shapiro Barash, author of "Toxic Friends," believes that a good number of women are part of a larger social circle. If they eliminate a toxic friend, this could unravel their social group, causing further pain to themselves and others. In this case, it may be better to continue to see your toxic friend at bigger social gatherings, saying hello and making small talk while avoiding any deeper intimacy. It also cuts down on the drama of cutting her out of your life.

Taking A Break

In some cases, a toxic friendship can best be dealt with by taking a break from your friend. This can be permanent or temporary. You may want to take your friend out to a neutral spot and let her know there are things in your friendship that are just not working for you and you'd like to take a break. The phone may be a better option for you. Keep in mind that if you talk to your friend in person, feelings of guilt may creep up, causing you to back away from your original plan. A nice card or email explaining in simple terms that you'd like to take a break from each other may be your best option.

The Ultimate Finale

Perhaps your toxic friend is persistent and doesn't seem to be able to take the hint. You tried distancing yourself and letting her down easy, but she continues to call you all the time, texting you and emailing you constantly throughout the day. In this case, you will likely have to end the friendship in a very final, straightforward, no-nonsense way. Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., professor of psychology and author of "The Friendship Fix," believes that letting go of a toxic friend can free you of a great deal of unnecessary guilt, stress and the burden of being taken for granted.

References

  • Toxic Friends: The Antidote For Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships; Susan Shapiro Barash
  • The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing and Keeping Up With Your Friends; Andrea Bonior
  • The Comfort Trap (or, What If You're Riding a Dead Horse?); Judith Sills

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

Photo Credits

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