How To Walk Away From Toxic Friendships

Friendships are an essential part of our lives, contributing to our happiness and giving us a source of unwavering support. However, not all friendships are healthy and good for us. Toxic friendships can drain our energy, hinder personal growth, and have a negative impact on us on a holistic level. Recognizing and distancing yourself from toxic friendships is a scary but courageous step toward curating a more positive and fulfilling social circle. 

In this blog, we dive into what a toxic friendship is, explore some of the signs, and guide you through the process of finding healthier friendships.

What Are Toxic Friendships?

A toxic friendship is one where the relationship consistently brings more negativity than positivity into your life. When you spend time around the person, you are likely to feel weighed down and exhausted. It's also marked by a lack of mutual respect and genuine care, which are two aspects that should absolutely be present in any healthy relationship. 

These kinds of friendships tend to be unbalanced, with one person consistently taking more than giving.  You might witness regular displays of manipulative or emotionally abusive behaviors as well. This could come in the form of peer pressure, lack of respect for boundaries, verbal abuse, or even something as simple as trying to keep you small. 

Toxic friendships hinder your personal growth and self-esteem, leaving you feeling anxious and unhappy after each interaction.

Signs of a Toxic Friendship

Identifying the signs of a toxic friendship can help you see it for what it is and walk away sooner. Here are some of the more obvious red flags to watch out for:
  • Constant Negativity: If most of your interactions involve complaining, criticism, and negativity, it's going to weigh on you over time. Healthy friendships will have a balance of positive and constructive conversations.
  • One-Sided Effort: If you're consistently putting in more effort than your friend to maintain the relationship, it might be a sign that the friendship is not mutually valued. If you feel that it is always your job to reach out, make plans, or check in with them, your efforts are not being reciprocated.
  • Lack of Trust: Trust is the foundation of any healthy friendship, romantic or otherwise. If you feel betrayed, constantly questioned, or your secrets are shared without your consent, it's a clear indication of a toxic dynamic.
  • Jealousy and Competition: Healthy friendships celebrate each other's successes. If your friend is constantly envious or competitive, it can breed toxicity. Truly healthy and supportive friends should be your biggest cheerleaders and should want you to succeed.
  • Manipulation and Control: Friends should respect your decisions and boundaries. If someone is manipulating you or trying to control your choices, it's toxic behavior. Pressuring you to drink or do drugs are two examples that are commonly seen.
  • Draining Energy: Friendships should fill our cups and leave us feeling rejuvenated. If spending time with a friend consistently leaves you feeling emotionally exhausted, it's time to evaluate the nature of the friendship.
  • Dismissive Attitude: A toxic friend might belittle your feelings, needs, or opinions, making you feel unimportant or undervalued. They are likely to undermine any of your wants, needs, or goals, so that you continue to stay on their playing field.
  • Constant Drama: If your friendship is marked by excessive drama, conflicts, and frequent ups and downs, it isn’t healthy to be around. Surrounding yourself with this kind of negativity can be detrimental to your own mental health as well as those around you. You may come home ready to vent to your partner, which continues the cycle of negative talk.

Tips for Removing Yourself from Toxic Friendships

Cutting ties with a toxic friend can be challenging, but it can be necessary for your health. Especially in the case of long-term friendships, it can even cause you to feel grief. As hard as this way be, it is essential to ensure you are protecting your peace. Here are some ways you might go about it:
  • Reflect on Your Feelings: Take time to evaluate how the friendship makes you feel. Recognize the negative impact it's having on your life and overall happiness.
  • Stay Firm In Your Boundaries: Limit your interaction and gradually reduce your availability to avoid abrupt confrontations. If they begin to question why you are doing this, stay strong and continue with the distancing efforts.
  • Communicate (If Possible): If you feel safe doing so, communicate your concerns to your friend in a way that is kind but firm. Be prepared for various reactions, including denial or defensiveness, which is often to be expected with a toxic friend.
  • Slowly Fade Away: Gradually decrease your contact with the person in a way that makes it feel natural and not like a concerted effort. Respond less frequently to messages and decline invitations politely. Over time, the distance will naturally grow. This is helpful for people who are worried about confrontation or hurting the other person's feelings.
  • Lean On Others: Confide in other friends or family members about your decision. Having a support system can help you navigate the challenges of distancing yourself. This will also remind you of what a healthy support system looks like, especially if you begin questioning your decision.

How To Find Healthier, Sustainable Friendships

Walking away from a toxic friendship opens space for healthier connections. If you have the time and energy to try building new, healthy relationships, these are some great ways to begin to do so: 
  • Look Internally: Take time to understand the qualities you value and want in a friend. Reflect on the lessons you've learned from the toxic friendship to avoid similar patterns in the future. Being aware of the red flags to look out for is key.
  • Stick To Your Interests: Sign up for local sports or activities that you enjoy and are passionate about. This will expose you to like-minded people and create opportunities for organic friendships. It is easier to connect with those whom you have things in common with.
  • Be Open-Minded: Don't limit yourself to people who are exactly like you. We can easily become stuck in our ways, but this means we are missing out on other beautiful friendships that might exist.
  • Nurture New Connections: As you meet new people, invest time in getting to know them. Nurture these connections by showing genuine interest and offering support.
  • Communication and Trust: Look for people who are interested in open communication and building trust when it comes to new friends. Healthy relationships are built on these foundations.
  • Quality Over Quantity: It's not about having many friends but having a few meaningful connections. Prioritize quality over quantity and don’t rush into any friendships that exhibit red flags.
  • Stay Patient and Consistent: Building deep, meaningful friendships takes time. Be patient and allow relationships to develop naturally.
Recognizing and walking away from toxic friendships is a brave step towards improving your life on every level. We naturally take on the traits of those we spend time around, so ridding your life of negativity and contempt will allow you to improve yourself and your quality of life. Even though walking away from toxic friendships can be painful, doing so can be critical. With a renewed sense of self and more time on your hands, you can put that energy into either finding new friends or nurturing the great relationships you already have.

We Can Help!

Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home.  If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help.  To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit our website to learn more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any severe mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Online Treatment Programs

08 November, 2023

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