How to deal with toxic friends

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You have a friend. You have known each other for years, or maybe not long at all.  You do things together, but you walk away feeling bad about yourself.  Maybe this person is very critical, maybe they take advantage of you or maybe you feel as if you are verbally or mentally sparring every time you talk to this person. 
If any of these describe one of your relationships then you just may have a toxic friend on your hands.  They aren't easy to deal with, but it can be done.  Try these tips for handling a toxic friend.

Know the Signs

The first thing that you need to do is recognize and acknowledge that the friendship is toxic.  Note that the relationship or friendship itself may be toxic.  Also realize that the person may be toxic to you, but not to other people.  If you find yourself avoiding this person or you feel like you are the only one giving, then you probably are dealing with a toxic friend.  Of course the biggest sign is if you walk away from that person feeling bad about yourself.

Take Ownership of the Relationship

When you continue your relationship with a toxic friend, you are enabling that person to continue to hurt you.  You have to take ownership of the relationship, take responsibility and learn how to say no.  YOU set the rules and decide when you want to see this friend or talk to them.  And if you don't feel like talking to them, know that it is OK.

Set Clear Boundaries

Set boundaries that are good for YOU.  You have to take good care of yourself.  If this toxic friend makes you feel bad, then separate yourself from them.  When you are together, confront him or her when they are mean to you or criticize you.  If they ask for something, give yourself permission to say no if it isn't in your best interest.

Talk to Non-Toxic Friends

Talk with your friends who are not toxic.  Sometimes, just getting a clear, unbiased perspective can help clear the muddy waters.  They may be able to shed some light on why this person acts as they do, whether the relationship can be salvaged and how you can handle this toxic friend.  At the very least, you will confirm that your suspicions and feelings are correct if they confirm that your friend is toxic.

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Suggest Counseling

This can be a real hot button, so you may want to proceed with some caution.  It could be, though, that your friend's toxicity stems from personal issues that can be resolved through counseling.  Talk to your friend and tell them that you feel they are treating you badly. 
Give clear examples and explain in very explicit terms so that there is no confusion.  He or she will likely deny the mistreatment, so having some examples on hand will strengthen your case.  They may take your advice, but be prepared for the relationship to end.  However, it is better to put forth the effort to help your friend and the friendship than it is to just let the relationship go on as it is.

Know When to Pull the Plug

Sometimes a relationship just can't be saved.  It is always difficult to end a friendship, but you have to do what is in your own best interest.  But when a relationship is hurting you, it is necessary to terminate it in order to preserve your sanity, health and wellbeing.
 

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