Moving on from toxic friendships.. Letting Friends Go
Have ever been friends with someone, like, forever and then something changes?
What used to be a two-way friendship is suddenly one-way traffic and it’s draining your life away?
It’s all about them.
Their day, their problems, their issues.
You get NOTHING in return.
Yet, you still you try to people-please them.
Yes, I’d love to come!
To that event you’d rather poke pins in your eyes than attend.
Because you think if you say no they’ll hate you for it and then you’ll hate yourself.
We accept relationship breakups as a normal part of life.
The break up of a friendship can be equally as painful, yet sometimes important for our well-being.
I was once close friends with someone for a long time.
Gradually I felt the friendship had become more and more one-sided.
It was draining me.
It was all about her and I started to people-please.
Trying to be the rescuer and help fix her problems, make it better.
It was becoming a codependent friendship.
I was so focused on her needs and looking after her I was forgetting my own.
It was exhausting trying to maintain that friendship all the time.
I remember calling her and saying:
I’m really sorry I haven’t phoned for a few weeks
Her response was that during that time her relative had almost died or her child had had this problem or other.
There was always some drama that I had missed.
I felt guilty, thinking:
Oh my goodness, I should have rung.
Look at all the heartache she’s been through!
After a while I thought:
Hang on a minute.
Why didn’t she ever ring me?
It was time for me to move on.
It goes both ways. Friendships.
You really know who your friends are when the chips are down.
There was a time in my career when I was hugely successful and everyone wanted to be my friend.
Everyone wanted a piece of me when I was flying high.
Then I started my own company and wham! – the recession hit and it was really tough.
I had to make the decision to close that company down.
All that shine and glamour around me sort of faded away.
Suddenly a lot of people disappeared.
You really know who your friends are when you’re down because they’re the ones who stick around.
It made me realize I had to take stock of my friendships just as one does with relationships.
I realized my self-worth and self-esteem should not depend on those friendships and my people-pleasing to gain their approval.
Friendships should be about enhancing your life and you enhancing theirs.
To be close to someone whose values are true to the same core values you have.
It’s not a bad idea at times to take stock and look at the people who are surrounding you.
One of my besties reminded me of a beautiful saying, the other day:
People come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime
Friends are there for a season, a reason or a lifetime.
I’ve travelled the world.
I’m from Australia. I’ve lived in Hong Kong, London, Shanghai and I’m now back in Hong Kong.
There have been many friendships that have just been about the season.
Friends I probably wouldn’t have normally have been friends with but we happened to be in the same geographical location at the same time.
Our kids were in the same school at the same time.
You know, that sort of friendship. And they were great at the time.
Then you leave the country and you never see them or talk to them again.
They’re the season friendships.
There are times when people come into your life for a reason.
They come into your life at the right time and teach you something that makes you a better person.
Perhaps they came into your life when you were at your lowest point and you just needed someone to be there and give you the right support.
They are those who say exactly the words you need to hear at that moment to heal and grow.
I call them the Little Angels that come into your life.
Then there are other friendships that are lifetime friendships.
They’re the ones who truly matter.
When I look at those who are my lifetime friends I would probably say I can count them on one hand.
It’s a small, beautiful group of true friends.
How to move on from toxic friendships?
You can tell a lot about a person by looking at the five people that surround them.
Look at your friends and ask yourself:
Are enhancing my life?
Are they bringing out the best in you?
And are you bringing out the best in them?
Do you care equally care about each other and respect each other’s needs and boundaries?
And listen to your gut instincts.
Is this person this so-called friend actually a little bit toxic?
Are you going the extra mile to people-please them?
Trying to keep that one-sided friendship up even though you’re not getting anything back in return because you feel some misguided guided loyalty from the past?
Perhaps it’s a friendship from school days or something like that and you’ve changed, you’ve grown up.
You’ve evolved but they haven’t.
Maybe you should allow that friendship to run its natural course and let it go?
Trust your gut.
Look at those friends and work out which are the lifetime friends who align with who you truly are.
The ones who love you for who you are.
The friendships that are two-way.
A lot of people have written to me to say how they’ve lost friends since leaving an abusive relationship.
When you leave a toxic relationship, quite often you do lose friends.
This is because they are brainwashed by that narcissistic person, as you once were.
And that abuser is now waging a smear campaign against you, convincing others that they’re the victim of your abuse, not the other way round.
There are times like that when you do lose a lot of friends.
Usually when you’re down.
You will lose friends but they’re not true friends.
Let them go.
Find the strength too, to put boundaries in place with your friendships, and say no when you need to.
Don’t say ‘yes I will go to that event’ you don’t really want to go to because you feel they’ll hate you for it if you say no.
It’s not about them, it’s about you.
How do you feel about it? Is this right for your wellbeing at the moment?
A true friend will respect if you don’t wish to come along and look forward to seeing you next time.
Friendships are the same as relationships.
Sometimes they run their natural course and it’s okay to break up with friends sometimes.
So, look at your friends.
Do they enhance your life or not?
Are they lifting you up?
Do they make you laugh?
Is it a two-way friendship?
If not, perhaps try testing the friendship a little by putting some boundaries in place.
Tell them, without emotion:
I’m sorry I’m going to pass this time, but I hope you have a great time.
See how they react.
If that person reacts in a hostile manner or guilt-trips you then make a judgment call on that.
For any friendship you decide is not good for your wellbeing or toxic it’s okay to tell them:
I’m sorry. This friendship is not right for me anymore.
I wish you all the luck. Have a great life!
It’s okay to not have many friends, as long as those friends that surround you are the true friends.
They’re the ones that matter.
Your self-worth shouldn’t depend on how many people love you.
How many friends you have on social media.
You’re rich if you have a small posse of very great and beautiful friends around you.
So, let go of anyone who is even mildly toxic in your life and become a minimalist.
We’re all trying to become minimalist and declutter our houses and lives.
Getting rid of all the junk that surrounds us.
Clear out the friendships that don’t add value to your life.
Don’t be afraid to trust your gut and say to yourself:
Is this person true to who I really am?
Are they aligned with my core values or not?
Is this friendship two-way? Or one-way?
Is it draining me?
Am I getting anything back in return for what I put into it?
It’s time to declutter and surround yourself with a small handful of friends who matter.
Written by Vivian Mc Grath
Originally appeared on VivianMcGrath.com