How does one decipher what exactly a “toxic friend” is? How do you spot these emotional vampires and avoid becoming their latest victims? Is there a difference between a toxic friend and someone who’s simply negative and pessimistic? Your friend may be a Debbie downer, but unless she’s sucking all the life, energy, joy, time, and money from you, you can probably keep her around and suffer her bad attitude. The toxic “friend”, however, has got to go. Send her packing. Throw this rotten apple as far as you can before she spoils the bunch. Tell her, in no uncertain terms, that it’s over. And then be silent. Why? Because the toxic friend adores attention of any kind. Good, bad, or ugly, she wants to get a reaction from you.
Ditching a toxic friend is easier said than done. By nature, these folks are persistent! They’re used to employing every trick in the book to get their way. Deceit, emotional blackmail, threats, harassment, and insults are all in their arsenal of psychological manipulation. But wait, these folks can also be extremely charming! To the gullible and tender-hearted, having someone so bewitching in your life can make you feel like a million bucks. Their neediness can make you feel like you have a purpose. Their constant stream of often self-inflicted problems, that apparently only you can solve, can make you feel like a superhero even! Sadly, it may take a long time to realize that the opposite is actually true. That you’ve been so stripped of your self-esteem, so oppressed and controlled, that in actuality, you’ve become the proverbial doormat. It’s time to get out from under those dirty shoes.
When you finally decide to have the hard conversation with your “friend”, you must resolve to stand your ground. By now, you’ve been so drained and down-trodden, that you might easily surrender to the will of this toxic person. After all, she considers you her hostage, and she’s not going to emancipate you without a fight. But fight, you must! It’s not just your sanity at stake here, toxic friends usually take you for all you’re worth. After a while, other family members and friends start to be affected, and will often be the first to clue you in to how much you’re being taken advantage of. Confide in them and use their encouragement to bolster you in your mission. Your toxic friend only cares about one other thing besides herself, and that’s control, and you’re about to take that away from her.
You’re going to need to meticulously plan your escape, because once you’ve made the break, there’s no turning back. Make sure you gently ask for any items your “friend” has borrowed from you to be returned, and give anything of hers back as well. Toxic people can be very intuitive and may start to suspect that something’s up. No matter. Get your belongings while you can. If she’s difficult about this in any way, set a day and time that you’re going to show up at her house to collect these items. That way she’ll have no excuse but to give them back. Next, emotionally prepare yourself for the fallout that’s inevitably going to follow the break. These sick and twisted toxic people will go for the jugular and sully your good name after it’s occurred. Usually, they’ve already deciphered your weak spots, and can use them to try to retain you, or try to get you back. Knowing that they could tell other people about the skeletons in your own closet can be discouraging, but it’s better than carrying on another day in a relationship with this poisonous person. This is not the time to worry about your reputation. Steel your mind and know that you’re doing the right thing.
Once everything’s in place, tell your toxic friend that you feel it’s no longer healthy to be in a friendship with her. Expect wailing and gnashing of the teeth. Be gracious and calm, and don’t attack her character. You’re going to have to repeat yourself over and over again until she gets the point. She’ll try everything to get you to stay, not because she loves you, but because she loves controlling you. Unfriend and block her from all of your social networks if need be. Ignore her calls and pleas to meet up and talk it out. She’ll do everything she can to make you feel guilty and see her as a victim. Push through it. Keep your character in check, and let her be reckless with hers. People of discernment will be able to see right through her.
After several weeks, your ex-friend may try to reconnect with you. She’ll tell you she misses you, not a little, but a lot. She’ll try to charm you back into her life. It’s all part of the game. Reply with a polite, “no thank you”, and go about business as usual. Any more than a brief response, and you’ll be giving her the attention she so desperately craves. If she tries again to contact you, ignore her. Being ignored is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person of this nature.
It can take some time to forget about your toxic friend. In fact, it may be very hard at first to deal with the break up. You may experience feelings of guilt or remorse. Part of you may even miss the sick routine you used to have with her. But remember, that routine involved you giving 100%, and her taking 100% and then some. This is a time of healing. Healing the relationships you missed out on while you were in servitude. Healing of your own feelings, self-esteem, and mental state. Healing of your faith in the good of mankind in general. You may even be a little “once bitten, twice shy” for a while, but a whole new world of freedom awaits you. Embrace it, move on from your negative past, and enjoy everything you’ve gained from losing a toxic friend.