Toxic friendships – when is it time to part ways?
As humans, our brains are wired for connection. We’re social beings who thrive when feeling loved and accepted. Families and significant others form a large part of this, but friendships are also hugely important.
These are the people we chose to spend our free time with. The people we trust, support and laugh with. Just like romantic relationships however, friendships can run their course and even become toxic.
Sometimes the friends we make are circumstantial. Perhaps you were in the same class at school and created a friendship based on this. Even though there may be years of history, you may find your values have changed as you’ve grown into adults and the friendship is now bringing more stress than joy.
Whatever the situation is, here are a few signs that it’s time to consider parting ways.
You feel drained of energy after talking to them
Friendships should revitalise you, fill you with excitement and energy. If you start to feel depleted of energy after speaking to a friend, try and think what it is you find draining. Often it’s because the other person has become demanding of your attention and the relationship has become one sided.
Consider how often the friend reciprocates in conversation, are they there for you? Do they listen when you’re struggling?
They have become competitive rather than supportive
While some friendships may have a playful competitive edge, when it becomes more competitive than supportive, it may be time to call time on the friendship. Supporting each other is part and parcel of a friendship, so if this stops, ask yourself why and consider bringing it up with them.
They have become critical or judgemental
If a friend starts putting you down, criticising you or becomes judgemental, it may be worth asking yourself if they’re someone you want in your life. Remember, you ultimately have control over who you pull closer and push away from your life.
They have stopped being reliable
We all have that one friend who flakes on us, and we know that schedules get increasingly hard to align as we get older… but, if someone keeps letting you down, it may be time to question what they’re bringing to the relationship. Friendships take time and work to nurture.
If you recognise these signs, think about how you want to approach the situation. In some cases, setting healthy boundaries and having a little space from each other may be all that’s needed to reset the friendship. Sometimes however, a clean break is needed. If this is the case, try and avoid the blame game. Speak to them in a public setting, be direct and address the problem at hand. Explain how you feel and that you would like to go your separate ways.
Life is short and we should spend it with people who make our hearts happy. No one is perfect and we all have our flaws, but if the above warning signs start affecting your well-being, it could be time to set yourself free.
Find a relationship counsellor
All therapists are verified professionals.