We probably all know how hurtful breakups can be. Lots of crying, sleepless nights and an enormous wastage of paper tissues. However, I’m not talking about this kind of breakups, because there are also less painful ones which are nonetheless very necessary. Breaking up with a friend is still not an easy game. There are some rules or let me say morals one has to keep in mind. And as I’ve experienced this situation several times, I want to let you know some of the ways of breaking up.
How To Identify A Toxic Relationship
First of all, before you end a friendship you have to be sure that it’s a toxic one. However, most of the times we tend to close our eyes when it comes to these things and wouldn’t admit to ourselves that a certain friendship is bad for us. I definitely belong to those kinds of people who realise really late that the relationship damages you more than anything else. If you recognise a toxic friendship fast and you’re able to break it up easily – good for you, keep it that way. But for all those who are more like me, here are some signs to identify if your friendship is toxic or not.
1. Little Contribution To Your Life
We human beings are egoistic. I know it’s a harsh statement but I believe that we need to keep up all the things that contribute to our lives. If something has no benefit then it’s not worth keeping. Like, for example, an old pair of Converse. I collect those shoes like other girls probably collect handbags. And just recently I threw my first pair Chucks away because they were so worn-out that I could never wear them again. Of course, there’s the sentimental part which may hold you back but after throwing something useless away there’s place for new stuff. In my case – new Chucks… or two or three new ones 🙂 It may sound very simplified but you have to look at friendships the same way. If your “friend” contributes very little or even nothing to your life and is not willing to be there for you then he/her is useless like an old pair of Chucks.
2. Controlled And Manipulated
This is an immense sign of a toxic friendship and unfortunately, often you’ll not be realising it. Try to figure out if you can act authentic whenever you are around them. If you tend not to be genuine or adapt your decisions and notions to their views then it’s about time to dump this friend. A good and foremost healthy friendship should encourage you in your decisions and highlight your personality, not the other way around.
3. Reminiscing About The Past
Do you remember last summer? Or the concert three years ago? If you catch yourself thinking only at the good old times this may be another sign that your current relationship is bad for you. A friendship should also involve good times in the present and obviously in the future. So don’t hold on to this friend because of your past. Think just of the old Chucks, you think about the great times and how nice they looked in the beginning. Leave those thoughts behind because reminiscing about the past will not bring you forward at all.
4. Little Self-Esteem
Normally, a friendship should boost your confidence. We have enough things in our lives which can lower our self-esteem, for example, university, job, overall stress and negative people. If a friend can’t contribute to your confidence then you should forget about him/her. A good friend should confirm your decisions and, therefore, give you more confidence.
5. More Negativity Than Positivity
Try to figure out if there are more negative experiences than positive ones below the line. Listing all the things can help you with this process. A friendship should be fun, enjoyable and not harming or damaging. I personally like to use this approach in order to figure out if I’m currently in a toxic friendship. It takes some time to balance all the experiences but when you get a general feeling that there’s more negativity then sort your friend out. He/Her deserves not be in your present. So, look at the end result and if the negativity predominates then draw a line and go on without the friend.
The Break Up
Now we know how to detect a toxic friendship. If you think that this was already hard then be prepared for an even harder step – the break up itself. There are, to simplify the whole process, two different ways. Either you take the direct way and confront them or you choose the indirect way and let the friendship naturally fade away.
Try to prepare your friend by letting them know that you are not completely happy with the relationship. It’s essential that you go prepared to your break up talk. Think about the reasons why you want to end this friendship and give your counterpart enough time to process. Meet at a public place because if you have the talk in private emotions may escalate.
I’ve experienced this twice. Once I broke up with three friends of mine on the school ground in the break between the classes. It was hard looking in their eyes and telling them that I felt very unwelcome and uncomfortable in their presence. Luckily, their reaction was not aggressive at all. They told me in an indifferent way that they don’t care and I should do whatever I want. This was just a confirmation that it was the right decision to end this friendship or what was left.
The second time a friend of me broke up on the phone. He called me and explained that he wasn’t able to tell me this personally, therefore, he told me over the phone that he wants to end it. It was harsh and it was hurtful but I was relieved that I knew what was going on.
If a friendship is growing apart anyway why not take the easier way out by just letting it fade away completely. Stop or minimize your phone calls and texts. By slowing down the communication you signalize that you’re not that interested anymore. When you happen to meet than keep the conversation at a small talk level. Don’t spill your secrets and don’t reveal your problems. Try to act in a reserved manner.
As I’ve already mentioned in the beginning of this post, I’ve experienced numerous friendship break-ups, be it as the victim or as the offender to state it in a legal term. At the moment, I’m actually still in a break up in an indirect way. This friend (I’ve written a post on Medium about it, so if you are keen on finding it, you’ll probably be able to) has not been a friend to me at all in the last months. It took me really long to realise that it was a toxic friendship. After not seeing us that regularly it was easy to slow down the communication. Whenever he wrote me or asked me to meet him, I would just wait several days or even weeks before answering him very briefly. And now, we just stopped to communicate completely.
The time right after a break up is probably going to feel weird. You have one friend less. You have one contact less on your phone. You have one option less to hang out. In this time, it’s important to visualize why you’ve decided to end the friendship. Moreover, stick to your decision. Whenever you try to contact that friend again a red light signal will flare up. You had your reasons for ending this harmful relationship.
To put the Converse shoes back into play: You’ve just got rid of an old and especially useless pair of shoes. Now there’s some free space for new ones. Don’t be afraid of this blank space. First, take care of yourself and fulfil your own needs. And within the time, you can fill the space up. Fill the blank with a new friend, with new experiences, joy, fun and love.
And remember, friendship is a two-way street, not a one-way.