In my life I've managed to keep only a few selected close friends: two friends from high school in California and two from my elementary school days in Slovakia. Keep those friendships this long has taken much tending and care. Although we don't often get to see each other, whenever we do it's as if we'd just met yesterday. But this week, one of those seemingly unbreakable bonds broke.
We planned so many things for her visit here to Prague. For weeks we talked about the sights, the bus routes to nearby cities, the kinds of bars we'd go to, what shoes she should bring. But the week before she arrived, plans started to change. She no longer wanted to go anywhere. And when she got off the plane I learned of another change of plans.
She'd had a sudden change of heart about spending time with me and left me hanging on her very first day when she meet someone she met online. Awaiting her call, I roamed the old town for hours looking for things to show her once she was ready. But she wasn't ready. The situation got ugly over Facebook messenger, where I told her to either come back or stay away. She stayed away and didn't come back at all. Ten years of friendship over over some random person she just met.
Looking back at then ten years we've had together I can see the many ways in which she manipulated me to get what she wanted: she "borrowed" things from me that I never got back, bullied me into stealing for her, she set me up on dates with guys I didn't have any interest in, she flaked on me many times, forced me to talk with her at odd hours, and now ultimately used me to cover up a moral crime I warned her not to do. I'm stuck in the middle of her biggest potential mistake and feel like shit for being so blinded by her smiles and false care for me.
I am done being used by this toxic friendship!
Toxic friendship: A relationship in which one or both parties is harmed by each others presence. If it lasts long enough, this relationship can cause serious psychological harm as well as physical!
You may feel the friend is insulting, critical, needy, petty or selfish. A friend may ask for honest advice and then become angry when you deliver it, or do the opposite of what you suggest. A toxic friend may persist in giving unsolicited advice, or talk only about their own life and problems without considering your needs and feelings. Sometimes a friend may burden you with his or her own problems, whether it's job, money, or relationship woes -- but not offer any support in return.
- CBS news
If this sounds all too familiar, you should end yours too. Here's how:
First, realize they are bad for you. This can be really difficult, especially when you've known each other for many years. To clear things up, ask yourself these easy questions:
- Is this person using me?
- Is it always about them, even when you need their help?
- Is their behavior making you sad or angry more often than it makes you happy?
- Consider making a list of pros and cons to your friendship.
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it's time to end the relationship.
The next step is to decide how you wish to end the friendship. Here are a few possible paths:
- Gradually cut yourself off from them to avoid drama. Taper off your communication by avoiding eye contact and answering with shorter replies. Provide little to no detail in order to prematurely end conversation more and more often. Eventually you can stop answering altogether. Try using excuses to get them off your back when they're persistent, like "I'm busy," or "can't right now."
This method works especially for friends you don't see often and want to avoid confrontation with.
- Leave a clean cut by confronting the friend about their behavior. This is the right time to just state it like it is and say what's on your mind. This only works if you are calm, cool, and collected. Just be honest! If you show too much emotion your manipulative or dramatic friend will use this emotion to twist things his/her way.
Now that you've ended it, make sure you keep your word and don't go back. It's so easy to slip back into old habits, especially when it comes to relationships. Whenever you find yourself thinking about "what if..." you know you need to step back and think about why you broke up in the first place. Some things you might find yourself thinking:
"If only he/she could just keep a secret..."
"If he/she apologizes, I could learn to forget..."
Just stop! Remember your decision to leave the relationship and stick with it. If you wish to forgive them (which you should, no matter how it ends), it doesn't mean you're obligated to jump back into the toxic friendship you just worked so hard to end. Forgive and walk away.
Have you ever had a toxic friendship? Let me know how that went for you in the comments below.
Although I'm sad to see a friendship thrown away like it was nothing, I'm honestly more frustrated with the fact that I mean so little to her. Like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, ending a friendship is emotionally difficult to deal with. Give yourself a few days to recuperate before you take the easy steps to #shakeitoff.