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5 Ways To Handle Toxic Friendships

Lots of literature talks about friendships as if they don’t function in the same way relationships do. Rubbish. I can assure you from experience that whatever codependent hang ups you’ve experienced with romantic partners will play out with your friends too. Here’s some ways to be assertive and decide whether or not your friendship is worth working through.

Be aware that toxic friends (or what I like to call “crazy-makers”) won’t respond to boundary setting. They’ll just hop right over your line in the sand. So, for instance, you’ve set a limit for the nineteenth time and this “friend” is still testing the waters, it might be time to break free and run.  Also, if you notice you don’t feel good or “quite right” when you’re around this person or you feel like you can’t be your true self around this person, trust your gut, grrrrl.

  1. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but keep it simple.

Don’t over-explain yourself like you did something wrong. Do not fawn. You owe it to yourself to do what’s in your best interest. You don’t owe anything to anyone. Remember that some friendships outlast their expiration date and sometimes it’s just good to turn new soil somewhere else. Not everyone is designed for the masses. Keep in mind that one life-enriching friend is worth more than two dozen phonies.

  1. Communicate

If the situation is salvageable, be honest. If your feelings are hurt, be honest, but if you feel like you feel like your friend is repeatedly throwing you under the proverbial bus, be honest too. It will be uncomfortable, but it’s better than trying to retreat into the woodwork or ax the person out of your life, which isn’t really fair to anyone. It’s that super passive-aggressive codependent crap that leaves everyone hanging and keeps the door open for the person to come back in. Be clear and be honest. Only in this way will you be honoring your own feelings.

3. Expand your horizons

Find some other folks to hang out with that don’t deplete the fuck outta you. Meetup.com is a great site for finding people that share similar interests. Broaden your acquaintance circle. Lots of people, including myself, fall into the same pattern of keeping one or two toxic friends around. This pattern can quickly cycle down into codependent dysfunction. It’s like keeping those old, stinky slippers around. Comfortable and familiar, not necessarily wanted. Upgrade yo’ slippers, lady. You deserve it.

4. Ex-communicate if you Must

I’m not a huge fan of this option, but if said toxic friend is staking your outside your apartment building because they need you to do their taxes–you got an issue. It’s probably best to fall back and ease right out of the situation. No need to be hostile, but delete them off social media . In this way, you will be lessening the chances of them trying to reengage in manipulative behavior. In other words, don’t lock the door if you’re going to leave the window wide open. They’ll come sniffing you out in no time when they need something.

5. To Thine Self Be True, Sister

You gotta do you first. Screw guilt. Yes, we live in a culture (especially for women) that espouses self-sacrifice, but there is truthfully nothing wrong with putting yourself first. It’s not selfish, it’s self-caring. You will feel better.  Your self esteem will thank you and you will be better equipped to assertively handle that toxic type of personality next time you see them coming.

About Kristen Damasida

Writer and Photographer for Virago Magazine, Kristen grew up listening to vinyl and highlighting the dictionary. Her work has appeared in IrockJazz.com, The East Harlem Journal, Boston's Culturehive, the Ithacan and other publications. Her love of music cannot be eclipsed by her love of words. She's been coined the "Akira Kurosawa of Blogs" by such people as herself. An aspiring musician, she has a serious penchant for peach-flavored anything, multi-tasking, slow-paced thrillers and dreams of going back to South America, laying on the beach, and drinking from a coconut.

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