There’s no room for toxic friends. Toxic friendships don’t have to be tolerated, so walk away. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s possible. After being involved in a couple lengthy, sour camaraderies, I realized I got more out of them than bitter memories and unnecessary stress. Here are 7 lessons I learned from my toxic friends.
Lesson 1. Your Secrets Are Important
Know who you trust and make sure you can rationalize why these people are trustworthy. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a toxic friend until it’s too late. It can be easy to fall into their drama – and stay tangled in it. Make sure you know who you can count on to guard your secrets as well as you.
Lesson 2. Guard Yourself
Boundaries are your friends. Toxic friends love to tiptoe around the lines you draw. They can be very clingy for multiple reasons. For example, they like to know when you succeed so they can drag you down. They also want to know when you’re feeling down, so they can minimize your feelings in comparison to theirs. These friends like to figure out how they can beat you in any way possible – and knowledge is power.
Lesson 3. Toxic Friends Can Blossom Over Time
Toxic friendships don’t always happen overnight. They can slowly bloom from acquaintance, to friendship, to something pretty rancid. It’s easy to shrug off their behavior because it just starts to seem normal after a while. But make sure you’re aware of their changing behaviors and talk to this friend about them.
Lesson 4. Go With Your Gut
Toxic friends love to drag their competition down. You may notice that they’re taking a sudden, strong interest in your hobbies – perhaps they’ll even attempt a few. They may buy the same clothes you just purchased a couple weeks earlier. While imitation can be flattering, this can get a little creepy – and annoying. This is their way of trying to outdo you in every way possible.
Lesson 5. Don’t Lose Yourself
It’s easy to get wrapped up in these toxic friendships. Between the aggravation of constant arguments, the unease from their imitation, and the drama, how can you possibly disengage from it all? It’s especially difficult if you have to see them every day at school or work. Go back to Lesson 2. Boundaries are great. Don’t let yourself fall into this passive rhythm. Once lines are drawn, you’ll realize you have more time for yourself again.
Lesson 6. Your Time Is Important
Depending how deeply entrenched you are in this toxic friendship, you may find that you have absolutely no time for yourself anymore. This friend is constantly trying to communicate with you – either in person or through technology. This gets in the way of other relationships, your own interests, and daily duties. Don’t give them that power. Again, remember Lesson 2.
Lesson 7. Know When To Run
Sometimes people aren’t meant to be in our lives forever. Friendships are supposed to be enjoyable – they shouldn’t make you dread making plans or having a simple conversation. Maybe you created some really great memories with this person, but now the friendship is nothing but turmoil. If you talked to your friend about their behavior and nothing has changed, or they turned the blame onto you, find a way out. You don’t owe them anything. It’ll be hard, but it’s for the best.