How To Break Up With A Toxic Friend

When you have a friend that constantly hurts your feelings, it might be time to do the hard thing and call it.

Inna Eizenberg
Created by Inna Eizenberg
On Aug 13, 2019
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Breaking up with a toxic friend can be very hard, but when someone you trust makes you feel like less worthy of respect and love, then that person has got to go. Easier said than done, right? Here are some steps to help you get there.


Make Up Your Mind

In order to make the hard decision and break up with your toxic friend, first you'll have to reach this conclusion - your friend has no use in your life any longer. To do that, ask yourself these four questions: Can I trust them? Are they committed to our friendship? Do they respect me? Do we bring out the best in each other? If you answer "no" to any of these questions, it might help you see that that person doesn't contribute anything to your life other than negativity.


Prepare For 'The Talk'

Breaking off any friendship is tough, and leaving a toxic friend can be particularly hard. Your friend may try to deny wrongdoing or talk over you. Making a script ahead of time, and practicing it, can help you stay calm and on track. Write down all your thoughts first. Then, look over what you've written. Try to pull out the most important thoughts and form a few clear sentences explaining why you're ending the relationship.

Practice your script a few times. You don't need to memorize it, it will still help you prepare.


Have 'The Talk'

This grownup move might be necessary if you want the last chapter on your bad friendship to be closed. Rather than just phasing them out, let them know you can't be friends any longer. Have a conversation with them to not only address the situation with facts as to what they specifically did, but offer them an insight into your feelings. By giving specific reasons, you won't just be the one who "let the friendship go" in their head — they'll know it was on them.


Try Not To Argue

Start this difficult conversation knowing that it isn't an open-forum debate. This is you telling them what the situation is, and then leaving. Make a promise to yourself to avoid any heated arguments and if the conversation becomes too hard, it's okay for you to leave firmly and quickly. So set your boundaries and then end communication. Don't try to 'convince' your friend to leave you alone or to believe it's actually what's best for them. This is about what is best for you and not a negotiation.


Talk In A Public Place

While meeting in a public place will help cut down the possibility of a major scene, this will also give you the option of ending the interaction on your terms, not your friend's. If you run into problems, you can just get up and leave. Whereas if you invited them over to your apartment, it would be up to them to finish it and leave, which might not only never happen but serve them as a weapon of guilt and responsibility to be directed right at you.


Limit Future Contact

Let the person know when and if you want to see them again. Toxic people may struggle to understand your needs in any situation and may try to guilt you into seeing them again after you break things off. Make it very clear that you do not wish to see them in the (near? far? ever?) future and will not be contacting them from here.

You don't need to be aggressive, but be firm. They need to know you won't be taking their calls anytime soon and most importantly - you need to hear yourself say it.


Slowly Pull Away

People can smell when someone is about to break up with them. If your friend is one of those people and they keep sabotaging every attempt you make to sit down and have 'the talk', there is not much you can do to force their hand. Instead of feeling guilty, start disassociating yourself gradually. Your social circle is supposed to be genuine and sincere; full of happiness, admiration, love and support. If you’re not getting that from your friend and they won't even sit down with you to end things with mutual respect, it will only be human of you to slowly phase them out.


Unfollow Them On Social Media

You don't need to be creeping on what dish your ex-friend ate at your favorite Thai place or what they've been doing on Friday nights. There is no need for either party to have insight to where the other person is going or what they have become. Social media provides unnecessary information that can lead to jealousy, resentment and gossip that is not needed. Make the break clean and complete and if unfriending them seems too much, at least unfollow them. You might be curious, but it's just not worth it.


Release The Uncomfortable Feelings

In order to let go of the harsh feelings a breakup like this can create, you might want to take some active steps to recover. Try writing three letters to your friend. The first should be written to express and release all your emotions. The second can have a softer approach, with fewer negatives and more compassion. The third letter could include thoughts on what role you might have played during the friendship that turned it into what it ended up looking like. Why did you stay there?
Don't send the letters, but use them as an outlet to let go. They are meant to help you process and look forward, without planting any seeds of doubt concerning your decision to break things off.


Be Prepared For Comeback Attempts

Even though you thought the hard part was behind you, your ex-friend may definitely attempt a comeback right into your life, where you don't want them. They may try to manipulate you back into the friendship, they may be hurt and become offensive, they may ask if it's possible to convert the close friendship into a form of a distant friendship or run full speed in any other direction that might confuse and rattle you.

It's best to be prepared for each of these possibilities, but realize that you might not know how you will feel until you get into the situation. Just remember that you are the one who should be making life choices for you, not them.


Talk About It

Breaking up a friendship can be just as stressful and emotionally draining as ending a romantic relationship. Be sure to be good to yourself afterward. The grief you might experience is real and legitimate, even when you're certain to have made the right choice. It's normal to feel sad, frustrated, or angry. Keep on top of your mental health to ensure that the end of the friendship does not cause problems for you in terms of poor physical health or lowered resistance to stress. Talk about your breakup. Process it. Get help when you need it. It's okay to be 'making a big deal' of ending a friendship.

Are you ready to put yourself first and kiss that toxic friend goodbye now?

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