Much like romantic relationships, friendships have their ebb and flow – they also have their season, which may end. Breaking up with a friend sounds dramatic, sure — but we all have those friends who were the center of our world one day and whom we can barely make small talk with the next. Lives go in different directions sometimes — we grow, we get new interests, new jobs — and sometimes, people no longer just fit. And sometimes, our friends just change. What was once fun and light, becomes dark and toxic — and much like if this was a person you were dating, it’s time to get out.
“If you have friends who consistently don’t support you, make you feel bad about yourself, leave you drained, make you feel like you’re a burden, use you… it’s time to purge them,” says relationship expert Laurel House. Think about it as detoxing your social network.
People can be pollutants, too: personal pollutants! Even family, “forever” friends from your childhood, and new friends who you have a shared connection with can actually be toxic. “Like the mold in the corners of your shower, ignoring the problem and allowing it to persist unchanged is not going to make it go away. In fact, it will only allow it to fester, get worse, and possibly even make you sick.
1. Look Around At The People You Surround Yourself With
As nerve-wracking as it may be, it’s time to make the necessary shift in your relationship. So what do you do? Look at the people who you choose to surround yourself with, and the people you feel you “have” to surround yourself with — for whatever the reason,” says House.
Now ask yourself:
-How does each person “serve” you?
-What do they provide for you?
-Is it a two-way, mutually beneficial, uplifting, encouraging, enlightening, or comforting relationship?
- Do you feel drained, exhausted, angry, sad, insecure, unimportant, uninteresting, or annoyed after hanging out with them?
“It’s those people: The energy suckers, the Debbie downers, the ego-deflators, the de-motivators, the people who pull you back or hold you down who serve no healthy purpose in your life that you simply don’t need any more,” says House.
2. Have A Heart To Heart
If you think that the relationship has the potential of being fixed, or at least improved enough so that it makes sense for you, it’s time to have a heart to heart, House says. This is not an opportunity to place blame, point fingers, or get nasty. That’s why it’s called a “heart to heart.”
3. Be Honest
Do be honest, but don't go beyond basic reasons for wanting to end it, says Toni Coleman, LCSW, a psychotherapist and relationship coach. For instance, I feel we have drifted far apart and no longer have the same connection or interests in common vs. You have become someone I just don't like anymore and/or don't feel i have anything in common with. "Keep the reason short and be consistent in your message. Avoid first telling them it's over, then say you will really miss them and wish it could be different. This is a mixed message," says Coleman.
4. Back Off
"It may seem like sort of a cop-out way to go, but simply backing off of the relationship, without addressing it, could be your best, non-confrontational out. Stop returning calls as swiftly, stop being so available for plans, and stop making the time for elongated chats," says House. They will get the message.
5. Have "The" Convo — In A Nice Way
Some relationships, like romantic relationships, long-time friendships, and sometimes family members require you to actually have the dreaded “breakup” conversation. Don’t be mean. Just be honest and fair, says House.
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