Toxic Friendships. Learning to put yourself first!
#mefirst movement 2020
We’re working on ourselves in the 2020 #mefirst movement. To be in a healthy relationship you need to be healthy first but what if you’re not in a healthy relationship? To have holistic health and happiness having good relationships is imperative.
A relationship is not just between a husband and wife or people dating. It’s a connection. They come in many forms like, family, friends, colleagues, marriages and the list goes on. Dictionary.com defines it as follows:
So what then makes a toxic relationship? The easy answer is a relationship that makes you unhappy but there is far more to it. As I researched this I found myself reaching so many “aha” moments. It’s a post long in the making. I’ve just been doing alot of research and got caught up in this very intriguing topic.
There is just so much I feel I need to share I have broken it into a three part series. Toxic Friendships. Toxic Families and Toxic Love. While you may think toxicity is one thing i.e hurting someone, it’s so much more than that and I think you will find some shockers in here.
Friends are amazing. Toxic friends… not so much. There are alot warning signs to look out for. Do you have that friend that’s smiles sweetly but likes to throw shade? Sometimes you wonder if you heard right. We have those ME, ME, ME friends. Everything revolves around them. You listen to their stories but they never show any really empathy for your struggles. They love a life of drama where they are the main character – most of the drama is exaggerated and you have to come to the rescue. Even a bad day can be exaggerated. Have you ever had a friend who used your own emotions against you? Some toxic friends will turn your emotions on you. “These things happen to you because you are not strong enough. You can’t be so weak”. Things like this leads to low morale. There are friends where everything revolved around them and their lives. Do you find that all you do is talk about THEM? This is not healthy.
There are a many number of other signs to look out for. Freeloading friends, those who lie to you or are hard to please. Resentful friends, who when wronged will store that and wait for a time to “get you back”. Friends who by nature are people who are harsh, pessimistic and like to sow division are also people to watch out for.
One article I read suggested a book to check out “Get lost GF: How I found myself when my best friend dumped me.” Maybe you’re going through a tough time with a friend you’ve had for years and don’t just want to throw the friendship away. This book might help? Perhaps once you’ve read it you can do a review for the site! Friends can help us thrive but when you find the friendship affecting your life and killing your spirit, it’s time to relook the friendship. Alot of us have experienced that self-righteous friend who in their eyes doing everything “the right way”. Oh man can that be draining. To constantly be told “see if you did it my way / I do it this way and thats why I don’t have your issues”. On many occasion I’ve internally screamed “Oh for the love of everything on Earth SHUT THE HELL UP” because chances are at that time that is not what you need to hear. Wow I do alot of internal screaming!
It’s great to have honest friends. Some friends think that they need to always give you the brutal truth. Saying “you’re too needy” is the brutal truth. There is a difference between giving the brutal truth and honesty. Honesty is important but so is kindness. There are some extreme occasions, like when a friend is being abused when brutal honesty is required but this can still be done with kindness!
Some competitiveness amongst friends can be good, like trying to up your water intake as an example. So you motivate each other by telling each other how much water you got in for the day. However, aggressive competition, one upping and diminishing your accomplishments is sick and unhealthy. I have personally experienced this and it hurt like hell! What made it worse was I was the massive cheerleader, I was the one who helped with the idea (more than one mind you. Didn’t learn did I?) and did everything I could to motivate the person when no one else believed in them or even cared about what they were doing. I watched it change. I watched how I the motivator who wanted them to be their best was shoved to the side as a nuisance and when I embarked on my journey there wasn’t much cheerleading and support. I thought we had this thing going on where we were going to do this together and help each other. As I had some successes they were ignored or diminished and this then morphed into “I don’t need you”. Not needing me is okay but why would we stop being each others cheerleaders? This became so toxic I had to relook the dynamics of the relationship completely and pull away to preserve myself from the anger, hurt and pain. I put me first.
Some friendships are like rollercoasters and sometimes you are only needed when the rollercoaster is on the move because the drama is centered around the person. Tomorrow the rollercoaster stops and you’re no longer needed. Can you turn to this same person to drop everything to help you when you find yourself on a rollercoaster? If not, then perhaps you need to relook that friendship. It’s a two way street. Sound familiar? Do you have friends that you feel you have to walk on eggshells around because anything could set them off? You don’t want to say the wrong thing in case the wrath of hell is visited on you? Also finding yourself in too many tiffs is not a healthy relationship. We all have tiffs. Just not all the time!
Friends should not be emotional vampires. You should not walk way feeling down, drained and weighed down. If you dread seeing their name come up on your phone either a call or message, that is a sign right there. Do you feel like you cannot turn to them for emotional support? Have you tried saying “I need someone to listen to me”? If they listen perhaps you can salvage your friendship with some work. If you did a happy dance the last time they cancelled plans, it’s probably because you’re tired of putting in more work than the friendship is worth.
Evaluating the signs is important. It’s the first step to extricating yourself which can be very painful. There are a few ways to go about extricating yourself. Once you reach the #overit feeling you can slowly fade out of the friendship. Establish boundaries and stick with them. If you have to be more direct then do it. It’s awkward and no one wants drama but sometimes, with some friends you have to take this approach. Some friendships are habitual and people hold onto the “length of friendship” as a justification for continuing with a bad friendship. People change and grow or even become mean and distant. If the friendship no longer serves you, move on! There is no obligation to stay!
You may want to have a talk to them about why you are ending the friendship or even write a letter. This may be cathartic for you. Be honest and tell them how you feel but don’t overshare. Keep it basic. So let them know you’ve been affected, but there’s no need to get deep. “People who say hurtful things to you are often hoping to get a response out of you. Remind yourself that this is why you’re cutting them off and continue with what you have to say or choose to end the talk there and leave.” (ReachOut Australia) Once you’ve cut them off don’t re-engage. If the toxic friend comes around trying to create drama, don’t engage. If you hear that the friend has been talking about you / spreading lies, ignore it. If you are sent guilt applying, angry messages or emails politely ignore it. Do not get dragged back into the drama. That is exactly what they want. It is their way of manipulation to rope you back in. Walk away firmly and don’t allow yourself to be tricked back into melodramatics.
You’ll have moments when you feel like “If only my friend wasn’t so ____” we might be able to make it work. ‘There will be days you miss the good parts of your friendship. You’ll see old pictures or talk about fun memories, and you’ll almost miss having that friend. You’ll remember all the little moments when everything was good, but once you look at the big picture, you’ll remember why you cut out someone you were once so close to.”
Most people lack the courage to let go. Letting go of a toxic friend is easier than you think and the reward is amazing. The feeling of freeing yourself begins with freeing yourself of all things toxic. Honour your authentic values and break loose! Enjoy the freedom! Make new friends, make new memories and surround yourself with happiness and positivity! Last year I had to let go of some relationships. It was a sad time. What came after was amazing! I met some really amazing people. People who I related to, who were authentic and brought amazing new things and ideas into my life. So while I let go of the toxic relationships, it just meant it made place for amazing new people in my life that I now consider my very dear friends! Make that space in your life!