Toxic friends are more than just a nuisance. Trying to achieve your goals while having toxic friends is like trying to swim in the ocean, during a storm, with barbells strapped to your back. Science has shown the more you are around toxic people the more toxic you become. If you have friends that are toxic, it is time to severe the line. Getting rid of toxic people can be challenging. But, if you value your dreams and your happiness, you will do what needs to be done.
Identify the Toxic People
The first step in getting rid of toxic people is to know who they are. Some people can be frustrating and annoying. But, that doesn’t mean they are toxic. Toxic people are the ones who:
- Try to control you
- Ignore your boundaries
- Always take and never give
- Lie to you
- Don’t take responsibility for their actions
If you have people like this in your life, you need to cut ties with them. Sometimes all of us develop a kind of Stockholm syndrome with our toxic friends. We tell ourselves they aren’t that bad while their actions are constantly undermining us.
You need to evaluate your friends. See which ones are harming you emotionally. Those are the toxic ones. One of the best ways to get the strength to cut them out of your life is to say out loud to yourself that your friend is toxic. When you are alone identify a friend by name and say, “Tom is toxic and I need to cut him out of my life.”
Hearing yourself make this statement will reinforce your decision and will help keep you from trying to justify your friend’s actions.
Make a Statement
This is often the most difficult step. You have to inform your friend that you are cutting them out. Be careful. Sometimes toxic people get angry and violent when confronted. Always have this conversation in a public setting like a restaurant. This will make it less likely that your former friend will start yelling or getting violent. If you and this person have a violent history, or you have reason to fear for your safety, do not have this conversation. You may need to explore legal options like a restraining order instead.
Before you tell you’re your former friend that you need to stop interacting with them, write down what you want to say. The first draft will be ugly. You will ramble and be an emotional mess. Get it out of your system before having the actual conversation.
When you are ready to talk, make sure to keep the conversation short. You don’t owe them an elaborate explanation. Tell your friend that you are making some changes in your life and that as part of those changes you need to not be around or communicate with them. If things get ugly, you can always walk away.
Part of what makes toxic people so damaging is they do not respect boundaries. Just because you have told someone you no longer want to see them does not mean they will stay away from you. After you’ve had “the talk”, block them on social media. Block them from your mobile phone. The harder you make it for them to get in touch with you, the happier you will be and the more likely they will move on to torment someone else.
If a toxic friend tries to communicate with you, try and stay calm. Do not apologize for blocking them. Restate your boundaries and walk away. It may take a while, but they will eventually take the hint and leave you alone.
Distance and Ghosting
Sometimes you are better off slowly withdrawing from a friend. If it is someone you do not see much of, you can gradually stop responding to social media messages, texts, and phone calls. Instead of a big confrontation you can increase your distance from them. Eventually, you ghost away. The toxic person may never even know what happened. But, you will know and you will be better off,
This is your life. Why spend your limited time with toxic people? The sooner you severe the line with your toxic friends the sooner you can make room for friends that build you up and help you accomplish your goals.