This stage could last for a decade or maybe more, but when you reach the end of it and you look around, many of your friends may still be firmly grounded in this plateau. You don’t want to leave them behind because you remember when you were there, but you can’t move forward without letting go of their hand and you know they need you and will be disappointed if you do.
How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship
A healthy friendship is one where you interact with the person and you feel better about life and your future.
A toxic friendship drags you down to your lowest place, reminding you of where you once were and keeps you there with consistent stories of betrayal, disgust for the world and everything in it. Your toxic friend is highly critical of herself and of you.
A healthy friendship allows space to do the things you love. You feel free to come and go as you please and you want to interact more in this friendship because of this freedom.
A toxic friendship feels like you are in confinement. You feel obligated to listen to their tales of sorrow and misfortune. You often wish you had a magic wand so that you could zap the negativity out of their life.
A healthy friendship helps you to de-stress. This kind of friend helps you to laugh at life’s “seeming” misfortunes. They shift your perspective away from the pain and you breathe easier when you are interacting with them.
A toxic friendship adds more stress to your life. Each time you interact with this friend you feel worse about life and love because you care so much about their well being and you feel powerless to pull them out of their pit of despair.
A healthy friendship leads you to where you want to be most in life. This friend has the knowledge or the perfect motivation to help pull you toward your best life. This friend trusts your decisions and celebrates them with you, believing in the best for your future.
A toxic friendship reminds you of all the problems that could happen on your way to your goals. This friend can never see the light at the end of the tunnel because they don’t believe it is there. They want you to stay in the darkness with them.
In order to be fair, I must reiterate that ALL of us have been a version of the “toxic friend” at some point in our lives. Gratefully, that phase didn’t last long as we matured and we let go of trying to control the situations and people that entered and exited our lives.
Sometimes it will take a little longer for our loved ones and close friends to release the need to control and it’s okay to step back and give them their space. They may be resistant at first, thinking that everyone around them is deserting them but really, as your energy changes to a more light-hearted vibe, you won’t feel the desire to be around them anymore because you will enjoy the playful, hopeful energy more.
Energy is contagious. This is what we call a vibe. Have you ever noticed that after speaking with your toxic friend, your entire mood changes and you feel sick on the inside? They have just shifted their energy onto you. We all do this in every interaction. People subconsciously want you to feel the way they are feeling inside. This is why they share the stories they share or speak to you the way they do. They want you to feel like they do.
If this feeling is not a good feeling then it’s okay to walk away. Do it gradually. Take baby steps. Call less. Decline offers to hang out. Shift the conversation away from the complaints and the negative behaviors or simply make an excuse and end the conversation altogether.
You are not obligated to a life long relationship with a toxic friend. They will move on and find another toxic person to engage with or they will wake up and realize all they’ve lost because of their negative expectancy. It’s not up to you to make them realize this. They have to heal and mature on their own terms.
For more information you can read about the Toxic Friends Project.
For My Savvy Sisters: Have you ever been the toxic friend and lost your friends because of it? Have you ever walked away from a toxic friend to have them return later in a much healthier state of mind?