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  • Writer's pictureRachel Butler

When to pull the plug on toxic friendships….

So I’ve recently found myself questioning one of my oldest friendships and deciding its time to call it a day. I always thought this was someone I would never cut off and if I ever did it would really suck but now that its actually come to that I feel kind of relieved. When people have been in your life for such a long time its easy to find yourself giving and giving but if someone asked you why you are actually friends you would find it really hard to give them an answer. When you are so used to giving someone more leeway than they deserve at what point do you decide enough is enough?


Cutting off people that have become an energy drain is self-care. It is up to you to decide who gets access to you, there doesn’t have to be a dramatic showdown and you don’t have to explain yourself if you don’t want to. You don’t owe anyone your time and energy no matter how much they try to make it seem like you do. Friendships are in a lot of ways like relationships, some evolve and grow with you, while others become unhealthy and can be just as damaging and abusive. But how do you know the difference between a rough patch and unhealthy friendship? Here are ten red flags that you need to cut off a toxic friend…


1. The world revolves around them…


Ever find yourself really needing to talk and somehow you are now talking about them? Toxic friends never really listen to you, they just wait for their turn to speak or even get annoyed when the conversation is not about them. Even a random conversation that has nothing to do with either of you they can somehow manipulate into bringing the conversation back to being about them… It’s not an accident its called being self-absorbed. If you’ve noticed this and know this about someone, then come on hun, at some point you need to accept that they don’t have the capacity to ever truly be there for you. When you expect them to, and feel hurt or let down by them over and over again it’s mentally draining and easy to feel like it’s you that’s not worth it or wonder if your problems are not as big a deal as they seem to you. The reality is it’s not you at all, they are just waiting for the next opportunity to talk about themselves.


2. They are hypocritical...


Do they dish it out but can't take it back? Do they make you the punchline of their joke but lose their shit when you do it back? A lot of friendships are built on gentle mockery and that's fine when you both know it's light hearted banter. If you find yourself more often than not expected to take their banter on the chin but walking on eggshells when it comes to them taking it back you need to ask yourself why they think it's okay for them but not for you. Everyone can accidentally over step the mark and there's a big difference between privately telling you they found it a bit too far and a public spectacle for sympathy. When it starts happening all the time it just becomes draining. No one should expect you to be their own personal punchbag.


3. They compete with you…


Fact, some people just can’t be happy for you, but sometimes your biggest haters are in your closest circle. If you’re excelling at work, found something new that you’re good at, want to shout about your relationship or if you’ve just bought yourself a new Gucci bag these are all things you deserve and you deserve to have your moment. If your good news is met by your friend minimising it and immediately talking about how great they are then they are competing with you. Ain’t no one got time for that, life’s not a competition and you deserve people around you that want you both to make it… If someone feels the need to compete with you even though you aren’t competing with them, truth is deep down they think they are better than you. If you never feel like you get to shine then its time to say “see you later hater”…


4. They don’t respect your boundaries…


We’ve all got things that we're just not okay with and you are entitled to set boundaries. Whether its conversations you don’t want to listen to, names you don’t like to be called, whatever it is, its their job as a friend to listen and respect that. For me personally I’ve been through too much shit to ever be okay with anyone making sexist, victim blaming comments or basically acting like a cat caller. I'm friends with a lot of men and for ages I would blind eye it, but as my own self confidence grew I realised why should I. Its perfectly reasonable for me to set that boundary and expect it not to be crossed, when it does get crossed its not acceptable, period. I don’t need to justify why I’m challenging a comment that person knew I wouldn’t be okay with and its completely irrelevant whether it was aimed at me, someone I know, someone I don’t know or their next door neighbours imaginary friend. If someone tells you not to do something don’t do it, its really not that hard. There is no reason an adult cannot respect your boundaries and if they’ve got no respect for your boundaries its because they’ve got no respect for you, walk away babe.


5. They gaslight you…


Do you ever find yourself upset or furious and having to read back through messages or replay a conversation word for word in your head because they've somehow got you questioning the validity of own reaction? Do they start an argument, continue to escalate that argument and then suddenly switch to acting like they are completely baffled that you're mad? Here’s the thing, your close friends know you better than most people and probably know how to push your buttons. If they choose to and then tell you that you’re over-reacting or that they are the one that is upset by the argument they’ve caused then they are gaslighting you. Gaslighting can make you question things you know are true and feel bad for your legitimate emotions. It's a total head fuck, one of the most emotionally abusive things you can do to someone and sis, they know they're doing it… Don’t tangle with a gaslighter, get out, now…


6. You’re giving more than you are getting…


Do they always “need a mate” but when it’s the other way around they are no where to be found? It’s not sustainable for you to be giving and giving and giving and feeling like they never reciprocate. Friendships are not transactional and obviously sometimes people are going through a hard time but when over the years you can’t remember the last time they were in your corner its time to cut the cord. If people consistently show you they don’t care then isn’t it about time you believe them?


7. They make you feel not good enough…


Hands up if you’ve heard this classic convo before…

Friend: “Are you out tonight?”

You: “I can do, what time”

Friend: “Who else is out”

You: “I don’t think anyone is”

Friend: “Oh… I’m going to stay in then”

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you are under no obligation to stick around for anyone or anything that makes you feel like shit, least of all from someone that is supposed to be your friend. If their actions leave you feeling not good enough then you need to question what, if anything, you are getting out of the friendship. A true friend should be fixing your crown and helping you see how awesome you are not making you feel like they are just waiting for someone better.


8. You feel used…


Do they only call when they want something? Do you find yourself always picking up the bill or buying the round? Do you even know that they are going to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do or into paying for them but you go along with it because they are your friend? Nah sis… Not today Satan… time pull the plug on that. If I've got a friend that's struggling and I'm doing okay myself I'm not someone that would ever mind paying for a couple of drinks. However, there’s a big difference between a friend being genuinely skint and you offering to pick up the tab and being manipulated or guilt tripped into paying for them every time you see them. Especially when they are getting you to pay one minute and buying something expensive the next. If you’re starting to feel like its unfair, it’s because it probably is. It’s not even about money, even if you can easily afford it who wants a friend that takes the piss.


9. You don’t enjoy spending time with them….


If you’ve found yourself feeling relieved when they cancel plans or not going to an event with your whole friendship group because of something they have said or done, its probably because you’re tired of their shit. When friends start to be mentally draining you need to ask yourself is it worth it? Your mental health comes first, always. You don’t have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.


10. You don’t know why you're friends with them…


Maybe back in the day you were inseparable but now you can’t even remember a time when you had anything in common at all. That’s okay, people grow and not everyone is going to grow with you. Just because someone is part of your past doesn’t mean they get to be part of your future, its okay to move on. You are not responsible for someone elses happiness and there is a difference between giving up on someone and knowing when you’ve had enough.


If your reading this and thinking your once BFF is now completely radioactive, you might be wondering what to do about it. The short answer is distance yourself. Its daunting to cut off someone that has been in your life for a long time. If you’re not ready to end the friendship you could try a having a constructive conversation about behaviour that's not acceptable. If you are going to do this set yourself a deadline for how long you are going to give them to put their behaviour right and if they don't you've got your answer. If you are looking for a drama free exit strategy you can maybe think about starting a “slow-fade” and see how you feel with a bit of distance. This will only work though if you are both ready to let the friendship go. If they try to drag you in to their bullshit or play the victim that you are not at their beck and call just remember that your time and energy is yours and no one is entitled to it.


If you're #overit then maybe you want a quick way out. Personally, I’m a confronter, I’d rather put my cards on the table, say what I think and feel like I’d got some closure. Chances are it will turn into a showdown and a whole load of "how could you do this to me?" and if you're not here for the drama that’s probably not the way to go. If it becomes confrontational and you’re not comfortable with it then you don’t have to stay in the situation, let them know you won’t be in touch and walk away. The most important thing is you prioritise yourself.


It’s okay to miss something but still not want it in your life and maybe that’s how you’ll feel about your friendship. It can be hard when you’ve been friends for a long time to rip off the bandage and its hard not to second guess yourself and wonder if you’ve done the right thing or if the problem was really you. Don’t blame yourself, the reality is friendships end. It doesn’t mean that anyone is necessarily a bad person but its your choice if you would rather not be around someone.


Sometimes your friends circle decreases in size but increases in value. Cut off energy draining people and find the squad that cheers for you like you deserve. We’re all more likely to win when no one is actively hoping we lose.


1 Comment


danielle3213
Sep 17, 2020

❤️❤️❤️ mental health comes first x

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