The friendship breakup. It is one of the hardest moments in anyone’s life.
Sometimes there’s no one to blame but fate itself. Circumstances lead to you moving down different paths and leading lives that don’t intersect anymore. It’s sad, with a certain bittersweet longing to wish things had happened differently paired with the fear of giving up the things that you’ve achieved.
And sometimes there is someone to blame. Sometimes, you need to make the choice to cut someone out of your life. I’ve had to do this very recently. It’s a process, a hard one, but it’s one you have to see through.
Here’s how to cut someone out of your life, the healthy way (not the Mean Girls way).
First of all, what makes a bad friend?
A person can be great to you and still be a toxic person through the way they treat everyone else. Or they could be a great person to everyone else and treat you awfully. Learn to spot the people who aren’t worth keeping around.
A bad friend is someone who holds you back from being healthy, happy, or successful. If they offer you nothing but negativity, either directly from their words or actions or indirectly through their attitude or energy, then they are not someone who makes you happy.
Friends can manipulate or lie to you, and if they do they’re are doing it out of a desire to stop you from succeeding and control your life. If they don’t respect your boundaries anymore, then the friendship is not a healthy one.
Trust and respect are essential in any relationship. If a friend breaks your trust it can be hard to feel safe or comfortable around them again. And if a friend breaks someone else’s trust then there’s nothing to stop them from hurting you too.
A lot of the time, toxic people get away with their actions by making you feel special. They want you to think they’d never do it to you, because you mean so much to them. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but that’s a lie. It’s time to protect yourself, and get rid of the people who are holding you back from being the happiest, healthiest and most successful you can be.
Why is it important?
There’s a lot of debate about whether it’s realistic or healthy to simply cut someone out of your life, but at the end of the day, it’s important to protect yourself. I am a strong believer that if a person disrespects you, breaks your trust, or treats you badly, that they don’t deserve to know you anymore.
Of course everyone’s circumstances are different, and sometimes it might be unrealistic to cut them out of your life altogether. Sometimes, though, you just need a little help to really succeed, or a nudge to send you in the right direction. Consider this your nudge. At the end of the day, the most important thing is knowing that you can – and should – protect yourself.
What can a bad friendship look like?
I was once friends with this great guy. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him Harry. Harry and I were coworkers for a while and made a really strong connection. We got along because he was honest, down to earth, passionate, and caring. And then Harry started to make comments about my body, about my friends bodys, about the list of coworkers he wanted to sleep with.
Then Harry went too far: he disrespected his relationship and cheated on his girlfriend. Then he went way too far and overstepped another girl’s boundaries when she wasn’t interested. He didn’t directly hurt me, but through hurting people I cared about he showed me who he was.
Another time, I was friends with a woman who we’ll call Chelsea. Chelsea was really popular, so I felt important when she wanted to talk to me, but then I realised that the reason she was so popular was because she lied about her life, and befriended people she looked down on so that they would idolise her. I felt like a charity case whenever she spoke to me, because she would put me down and make sure I felt like less than her.
Both friendships were toxic. I had to ask myself: can I really stay friends with Harry while knowing how he treats the women in his life? Can I stay friends with Chelsea when she makes me feel so bad about myself? The answer in both cases was no.
How to cut someone out of your life
The first step is to evaluate the friendship.
Ask yourself some questions to better understand how you feel. Here are some I like to ask myself.
- Have they broken my trust?
- Have they intentionally tried to hurt me or the people around me?
- Do they respect me as a person?
- Do they have my best interests at heart?
- Do I feel better about myself with them gone?
Trust your instincts.
This can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have a gut feeling, trust it. Or at least look into it.
Write it down.
The best way to clear your head and rationalise your thinking is to talk about it, and I encourage that you do. But make sure you write it down too, so you know you weren’t imagining anything.
If they are doing the same thing or worse to other people, then the best thing to do is to give them a heads up. Not everyone will appreciate it, but sometimes people need it.
Stand up for your boundaries.
Bad friends often don’t take note or care about the boundaries of others, and if you feel like your boundaries have been repeatedly crossed, take note of it and tell them.
Freely utilise every social media block feature. Seeing them around social media isn’t doing yourself any favours, and you need to remember that you don’t owe them anything. Guilt can hit us so powerfully, but it’s important to listen to that little voice telling you that something’s wrong. You don’t have to explain it, or justify it. Just hit that little block button and breathe a sigh of relief.
Like any breakup, try to keep your distance.
Time apart will help. It sounds fake and cliched, but I promise you it’s true. The way you feel now won’t be the way you feel in a couple of months.
It’s ok to miss them.
And it’s ok to feel sad that they treated you badly. Guilt is a natural reaction in any situation like this.
It’s hard, and you can take your time and start all over again. It’s ok if you slip up, don’t feel bad about it. Just remember why you decided to cut them out of your life in the first place. The most important part is to acknowledge how you’re feeling, and give yourself time, patience and love.
You were fine without them before, and you’ll be fine again. Here’s to a new year free of bad friends
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