Do you ever look at a person and wonder why you’re friends with them? I have. It’s pretty safe to say that I’ve come to realize that toxic friendships are even worse than toxic relationships. Why? Because that person is supposed to be your refuge. When a relationship goes downhill, a friendship is supposed to be your sigh of relief, your saving grace, and a bunch of other cliches. They all come to the same point: a friendship should only be benefitting you, not dragging you down.
Luckily, after a couple of experiences where somebody was anchoring me down in the worst way possible, I’ve come to recognize a toxic friendship with ease. Why? Because I need to place myself in only healthy environments that will aid in positive, self-development. I am twenty-one years old with a handful of anchors in my past, and I now know when to cut the rope. Toxic friends were for high school, when you had no choice but the see that person in second period English or on the bus ride home. Toxic friends have no place in your life anymore.
Cut the rope.
I’ve also come to realize that a lot of people have problems noticing when toxic tendencies arise in friendships, because they don’t recognize when somebody is only stunting their growth. Or, they’re unsure as to how to remove themselves from that environment because they’re comfortable. You shouldn’t have to be comfortable with toxins in your life. You don’t have to be.
I know that it’s hard. I’ve been there—when you don’t know whether it’ll get better or just continue to make you feel like you’re drowning. Or maybe, you’re in a toxic friendship and don’t even see it—I’ve been there too. Things won’t get better until you surround yourself with people who will grow alongside you, not do everything in their power to keep you down.
Recognize a Toxic Friendship
Ask yourself this: how is this friendship benefiting you? And by that, I don’t mean that you should only keep somebody around for your personal gain. What I mean is—is this person bettering your life? Are you a better person because of this friend, or do they make you want to improve? Are you learning things from them? Are they helping you grow? Are you happy that they’re in your life?
If you have to pause to think before answering any of the above questions, then I can already tell you something: that person isn’t right for you. At least not now. A friend should be growing with you; although people may grow at different speeds, some don’t grow at all. And usually it’s the people who don’t grow at all who don’t want you to grow either. Why? Because they’d lose you.
Does this friend of yours make you feel like you can’t have other friends? Toxic. Does this friend flirt with somebody that they know you’re interested in, and right in front of you? Toxic. Does this friend talk bad about other people as a main source of conversation? Toxic, toxic, toxic.
Negativity is usually what stems a toxic friendship. Decide that you don’t want negativity in your life, and it’ll be easy to see who you need to remove. Gossip and drama was undoubtedly something that should have been left behind in high school. People who have nothing but negative things to say about people will only add negativity to your life. Surround yourself with positive people, and positive things will come your way.
Realize That It’s Okay To Lose a Friend
There will be more friends. I promise.
Let me guess … This person has been your friend for a while right? Years. You went to elementary school, high school, and now university together. Right? You’ve been through all the messy parts, right? Well this part is most likely going to be the messiest, but will make you feel like you have a fresh start for growth and development.
There’s no need to keep people in your life who are no longer bettering your life. Don’t allow somebody else to stunt your growth just because you feel obligated to be friends with them because “they’re friends with your friend” or you’ve “been friends for, like, ever!” That whole cheesy saying about “a reason, a season, or a lifetime” … It’s not just a dumb bumper sticker.
I’ve certainly changed as I grow older. I would hope that nobody would remain stagnant. And with change and growth, sometimes you realize that a person’s season is up. Maybe you just don’t have that much in common anymore. Or maybe you didn’t have that much in common in the first place, and you’ve only been able to realize it with age.
It’s not a crime to outgrow people. Realize that, and remove yourself.
Put Yourself in a Healthy Environment
This is the good part, I swear.
Having friends who only want to good things for you is by far the best feeling in the world. Why? Because you have a support system. That’s what friendships are for—you want people who will be good to you so that you can be good in return.
William Faulkner has this quote that has always stuck with me: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
It’s the people who will swim alongside you who will better you in every possible way. Even just one friend who is always there for you, no matter what—that’s what makes all of the bad friends worth it. The realization of who you actually need in your life needs to come to appreciate something positive.
So, what are you waiting for? Lose sight of the shore.