How to Handle a Toxic Friendship
Friendship breakups can be just as painful – and sometimes even more difficult – than romantic breakups.
Our friends are an important part of our lives, so when you have a friend who makes you feel worse about yourself, it can be hard to know what to do.
Here at KMA, we know how hard it can be to recognize when it’s time to say goodbye to a friend. For over 14 years, we’ve been helping our clients learn the tools to thrive in all of their relationships – including friendships.
After reading this article, you’ll know what a toxic friend is, how to recognize a toxic friendship, and three ways to deal with a toxic friend.
What is a Toxic Friend?
A toxic friend is someone who makes you feel bad more often than they make you feel good.
Your friendship is less about enjoying shared experiences and supporting each other, and more about what you can do for the other person.
Toxic friends overstep boundaries, minimize your struggles, and expect you to always prioritize them.
Warning Signs of a Toxic Friendship Include:
- They expect you to make them the number one priority in your life
- They don’t take responsibility for their mistakes
- They refuse to apologize if they’ve hurt you
- They don’t respect your boundaries
- They make you feel guilty
Ultimately, you’ll know a friend is toxic when you feel drained, overwhelmed, and confused after spending time with them.
3 Ways to Deal with a Toxic Friend
Relationships go through ups and downs.
If you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, and your friendship has recently taken a turn for the worst, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut them off completely.
If the friendship is still important to you, here are three things you can try:
1. Improve Your Communication
You’d be surprised how many issues are caused by simple miscommunications.
Especially with so many of our conversations taking place online or over text, one careless word can be a catalyst for an argument.
When deciding to have a serious conversation, remember to consider how this conversation will unfold.
When working on communication, remember:
- There is no “winner” in an argument
- Take breaks if the conversation gets too intense or overwhelming
- The conversation should happen at a time when you’re both in the right headspace to have it
For more ways to communicate effectively, read 3 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships.
Having strong communication skills can help set you up for success with tip number 2.
2. Name Issues in Order to Tame Them
When you’re addressing what needs to change in your friendship, don’t beat around the bush.
Do you feel like your friend is ignoring what you need?
Is there a specific situation that really hurt your feelings?
Be direct about what’s bothering you. Being open and honest about how you’ve been feeling is the best way to change it.
You can’t work on improving your friendship if you both don’t know what needs to be fixed.
3. Know When it’s Time to Go
Hopefully, your friend will understand that something needs to change in your relationship.
We grow and change throughout our lives, and even when we grow apart from friends, there’s a chance we can grow back together.
But if your friend refuses to work on your relationship, or won’t even begin to have a conversation about it, it might be time to let the friendship go.
Letting go of friendships can be incredibly hard – and friendship breakups often feel even more painful than romantic breakups.
It’s okay to end the friendship even if you know you’ll miss your friend.
You can want the best for someone else without wanting them to remain a part of your life.
Let yourself grieve the friendship while understanding that letting it go was the best thing for both of you.
Next Steps For Dealing with Toxic Friends
After reading this article, you know how to recognize a toxic friend, and when it’s time to end a toxic friendship.
Here at KMA Therapy, we know that relationships make up a central part of our life. We’re passionate about helping our clients learn the tools they need to get the relationships they deserve.
If you’re not yet ready to book an appointment, check out these resources to learn more:
- If you’re struggling with a lack of trust in relationships, read: What Causes Trust Issues – and 3 Ways You Can Overcome Them
- To learn more about how you operate in relationships, read: How Does Your Attachment Style Affect Your Relationships?
- To learn more about ways you can care for yourself after ending a friendship, read: The Best Self-Love Tips – Based on Your Love Language