It’s hard. One day, you’re best friends, the next day, s/he won’t return your calls. Or, they control you, giving you “helpful” suggestions, and you can’t take it anymore. Or, they won’t leave you alone, constantly coming to you with “problems” that have been “problems” since the beginning of your friendship. Or, perhaps they’re your best friend to your face, but behind your back, they talk smack and it’s starting to get back to you. You know it’s time to cut them off, but how?
Outside of these iffy qualities, perhaps they’ve been the most supportive in your times of crisis. Maybe you’ve been friends with them since childhood, therefore, you feel they know you the best. But if they continue with the toxic behaviors, why keep them around? You’re only hurting yourself in the long run by keeping them around. “But how do it without hurting the other person?” you’re probably asking. We have a couple tips that may help ease the blow. We’re not saying the other person isn’t going to be a little hurt (ending a friendship, even when you know it’s time for it to end, always stings a little bit, there’s no denying that,) but it’ll definitely hurt less than yelling, screaming, swearing, so on and so forth.
Not completely cut off contact, but lessen it. Don’t answer every phone call, don’t make a phone call unless it’s absolutely necessary. Only respond to important e-mails and social media posts. By lessening the contact, the other person will hopefully get the hint that you’re just not that into them at the moment, and will eventually lessen their contact. If that doesn’t work…
Talk to the Toxic Friend
Warning: You may walk away from this extremely frustrated. The other person may be in denial that your friendship is ending, or they may not want to hear it. However, talking is something that we forget about in this day and age, with the Facebook, Twitter and texting and so on and so forth. Now, you don’t want to attack your friend. Yelling, screaming, and over using “you” statements may make s/he feel as if they are on trial, rather than trying to come up with a solution. Keep the conversation on you–“I think it’s best if we don’t speak for a little bit.” “I don’t like that you act like my best friend to my face, but behind my back, you’re spreading rumors. Did I do something to upset you?” “I know this break-up is hard for you, but I can only extend my sympathy so far. I think this problem is out of my reach now.” These are fair statements, and aren’t harsh like, “You’re crazy after a break-up, you’re so whiny, I can’t take it anymore!!” You may be at that point; but try to keep it on you so they’re not feeling verbally abused, making the situation worse. Remember, this person was a true friend at one point, and could very well become a friend again, so why end on a sour note? That being said, if talking doesn’t work, why not…
Get Busy (No, not that kind of busy!)
Life often ends friendships–you may be working a 9-5 job; they may working on a masters. They may be having kids; you may be having a passionate relationship with the hot Starbucks barista you see every day. Whatever the reason, find a way to stay occupied. Yes, this sounds passive aggressive, but if lessening contact and talking haven’t worked, finding ways to keep occupied and make new, non-toxic friends may be the ticket. Sign up for a continuing ed. class, start a new fitness regime, take on extra work projects, whatever works best for you and your schedule. If you’ve tried all of the above and you still can’t shake the toxic friend…
Cut Off All Contact
This is way harsh, but when everything else has failed, delete phone numbers, de-friend, unfollow, whatever you have to do. By cutting off all contact, you can start fresh and the toxic friend will for certain get the hint. This is an extreme measure, but when everything else has failed, what else can you do? Continue the “friendship” that isn’t really a friendship as you keep getting hurt, or cut them off and get a fresh start on life, where people aren’t offering “helpful” advice; where people aren’t talking smack about you. Remember, a friendship is a relationship, even if it isn’t romantic. When a relationship goes bad and you’ve done everything you can, what do you do? Break up. This goes for friendship. As awful as it is, time will heal your wounds and you’ll see that this person wasn’t the greatest. Perhaps they’ll take the time and mature, too–if it’s right, perhaps you may strike up a new friendship later on, at a different point in time. If not, good riddance.