Feels like a punch in your chest when you have to take that heartbreaking step to end a bond with someone you thought would be your trusted confidante. We all dream of having that iconic group of friends, a solid group where you all go about your mischievous ways together, have the anecdotes that make you snicker while others stare at you with dumbfounded awe.
Or maybe, it's just that one friend you enjoy spending time with; bantering over bizarre antics that only you both could come up with, calling each other in the odd hours of the day just cause you're bored. A friendship where you support each, no matter what, while the rest look upon you with envy.
It's devastating when it's those horrible moments that overpower those beautiful memories you've had together which often results in you dealing with immense grief. At the end of the day, it is your mental health that needs to be put before everything. It took me a while before I understood what comprises a toxic atmosphere and what I can say is, this environment differs from person to person.
The first step to understanding your toxic atmosphere is understanding your emotions. How happy and comfortable are you with yourself while you are around them. If you find the need to get away from your friends to get a breather continually, it's time to re-evaluate your friendships. Now, you don't NEED to cut off immediately. Start by observing their behavior towards you. Common signs of a toxic relationship often point toward Jealousy, Building on your insecurities and anxiety when they try to contact you.
Ask yourself these questions-
Q) Do you get a sense of jealousy from them? Jealousy is an innate behavior that is inbuilt in all of us. However, it should not hinder your friends' ability to lend a hand when you need it. Moreover, they also need to learn how to express them appropriately.
Q) Do they put you down when they gloat about their achievements...There's a huge difference between sharing your achievements and gloating about it. You'll find that they'll expect you to pay attention to their success while; Is there any attention paid towards you? Or any appreciation expressed for anything that you do? Most often than not, your actions will be termed as 'bragging', maybe you'll even be termed as an 'attention seeker'. Any of these terms ring a bell?
Q) Are they competing with you? Healthy competition is always encouraged, but there's a line that needs to be drawn especially when you are the one being shamed and put down in the pretext of 'competition'.
Q) Are you anxious when they try to contact you? If you find yourself stressed out when your friend(s) tries to contact you, that immediately calls for an evaluation. This is one of the most common signs that point towards a toxic friendship. Maybe you're addressed when there's a need of you and then sadly disposed of when your toxic friend(s) has achieved what they wanted. Maybe you just don't like the way they act or talk around you. You could feel pressured to behave a certain way around that person. There are so many factors to look into when you find yourself dreading at the thought of hearing their voice or coming across them. This is a time to pay attention to those phone calls and messages. How often are you kept in the loop?
Q) Are they disrespectful? Intentional snarky comments, avoiding you on social media and messaging groups, encouraging others to ignore you, spreading rumors, and bad-mouthing you to others. Are they keeping you away from others? Another sign into toxic friendship includes distancing you from others (often from within the same circles) while simultaneously ensuring they remain in touch with you. This gives them the power to control their hold over friendships. This can be a plausible way to encourage jealousy from within you. To get an adverse reaction from you, which can later be used to put you down and a way to show that you're easily replaceable.
After speaking to a few people about what a toxic friendship means to them, a standard answer that I've received is that "you feel like everything is one-sided with them." A toxic friend would make things all about them and their needs. Their expectations would be for you to stand by them, help them (emotionally or financially), or they could expect you to put in more effort into saving your friendship. In these cases, you need to know that every relationship is built on treating each other equally. Yes, sometimes they MAY require a little more help and attention than you (or vice versa); you need to know when to put your foot down on their demands.
While these are just a few points that you need to consider over your (toxic) friend, you also need to need to take a look into yourself: your emotions and actions. Prioritize yourself right now and figure out how their toxic behavior changes you. Do you get annoyed when they remind you of your failures? Or do you feel dejected sad when you're only there to fill up a spot of a friend before they move onto someone else? Do you find yourself hostile, conniving, and acting in ways you usually wouldn't. The change brought within you would have most probably stemmed from the feedback your toxic friend(s) provide you with. 'Feedback' is usually in the guise of 'looking out for you' and 'helpful advice.'
If not an emotional change, are you physically changing yourself to appease your mates. We blatantly that the dilemma to change ourselves in order to appease others can be felt by people of all ages, whether you're in junior school, an employee with high post job or the C.E.O of an organization. Everyone can go through a toxic relationship. The only thing that matters is how maturely you take necessary action. You don't want to be under a paranoid state when you make a decision, and there could be the minute possibility in which they could be looking out for you. See for yourself if you're incorporating an uncomfortable styling sense or picking up a few bad habits. No one's a better judge of yourself than you! Now that you've gotten a gist of what consists of a toxic life, evaluated and accepted the problems that have been affecting your mental well being, it's now time to take some action:
- Talk it out
Never rush to conclusions. Have a one to one conversation about the issues that you are facing. You don't want to give up on a beautiful friendship easily and so talking is the best way to get to know the problems each of you are facing and how you can rectify them without having to cut them off immediately. For all you know, they could be dealing with critical issues of their own that are making them behave this way.
While talking things out, it is also essential to keep in mind that this was the same person who hurt you. Don't be too easy on them as this could be a way of taking advantage of you once again. Make your decisions wisely.
- Set some new Boundaries
If you choose to give your friend(s) another chance of building a healthy relationship, then you might want to consider setting some boundaries.
Boundaries include limiting your interaction with them.. Face to face contact, social media conversations, meetups along with mutual friends. When setting your boundaries, we tend to distance ourselves entirely from mutual friends as well. Don't stop having your bit of fun!
- Now What? Last Resort.....Time to Cut them out
You've gone great lengths to defend and put yourself first finally. It's never easy to take such a measure, but if things don't turn out for the better, it may be time to cut off completely. If even after talking things out and giving second chances and exhausting every possible way to salvage your friendship, things still don't pan out.... you'll see yourself de-stressed when you don't hear or see anything about them.
Cutting off includes a social media unfollowing as well. We all have that compulsion to keep checking on our friends, and when you're trying to end a toxic friendship, the compulsion to check on them increases a whole lot more. This might be the time to click those unfollow buttons or block them entirely. There's nothing more therapeutic than waking up and going about your day without having to come across the person that caused you a hell lot of pain.
However, think carefully about blocking their contacts and emails. If this is someone you work with or run in the same circles, you might need to maintain a relation out of professional courtesy. But make sure that they know that their contact with you is nothing more than for professional needs. School, work contacts will come in handy in this case.
I hope these tips have helped! Keeping all of these in mind, look after yourself well, and stay safe. And remember, nothing is more important than your mental health and happiness. P.S: I will be uploading another blog on Dealing with Toxic Friendships- Looking after yourself after ending a toxic relationship. So do keep an eye out for the next post!
Until Next Time♥️