As we go through life, we will encounter people that, on the surface, we believe we’re finding a level of validation from, yet deeper down, these toxic friendships are eating away at our happiness.

Friendship isn’t just about validation. Friendship is help, support, growth, compassion, honesty, and more. It is more than making you feel good at a certain time.

If there are darker undertones in these friendships, unpleasant feelings or outcomes that occur often, interspersed with the odd good time, you may have toxic friendships.

Toxic friendships can be very obvious, such as encouraging drug use and missing work, or it can be more subtle. If someone makes you feel negative emotions that you don’t want to feel, that’s a toxic friendship.

Anxiety, guilt, stress, embarrassment are an example of a few feelings you may get from this person. Are they sapping your mental and spiritual energy? Do they lie, cheat, and have other values that you don’t align with? These are just a few toxic friendship signs which you need to be aware of.

Most stay in these friendships out of ease. “These are the only friends I have”, “I don’t know anyone else”, “oh they’re not always bad” and “well I live here so I can’t change now”. All very common excuses as to why people can’t exit these friendships.

Now, you may have a love for your friend, despite the negatives. By all means, try and talk to them about your worries and see if they can recognise why you’re feeling like this. Yet toxic friends are very focused on themselves, so this is unlikely.

But at one point, your mental and spiritual health will get to a point that will not improve, until you make changes. You are the sum of the 5 people you hang around with, so picking wisely is important. It’s not easy cutting friends, but if you can truthfully say to yourself that your life is better without them, you have to make the change. 

If you are ready to make a positive step in removing toxic friendships, then follow this 7 stage process to do so.


Be honest with yourself about these toxic friendships

A man staring at a screen.
Photo by Simon Frey on Unsplash.

If you’re still lying to yourself, when deep down you know how you feel, the contradiction will affect your happiness.

You know that there’s a problem in your life, and currently, you’re doing nothing about it.

When you’re honest with yourself, you can begin.


Say to yourself “enough is enough”

At one point, you have to cross the finish line.

Like in a relationship that goes it’s own way, the split eventually happens. You can drag it out, but the more hurt that comes of it.

If you’re at that stage, be honest and understand that this is the start of the split.


Avoid reminiscing

A man staring directly at the camera.
Photo by Ben den Engelsen on Unsplash

The 5% good times do not even out the 95% negative.

Look unbiasedly and objectively. You shouldn’t cloud your mental health and progress because of the odd good time.


Minimise the connection

Not just hanging about in person, but cutting virtual ties helps too.

Things haven’t changed, and seeing this person will just take you back to previous scenarios.

You can’t move on if you’re anchored to the past.


Making new friends may seem scary and hard, but it’s achievable

A group of friends at a festival in the UK.
Credit: Aranxa Esteve, Unsplash

If you remove the cloud of negativity from your life, you’ll find that you can see clearly what you want. Now that you can see what you value in friendship, your energy will replicate that and you will project it out.

Those who are similar will gravitate towards you, so be careful not to force new friendships into a certain way.


Your toxic friend may still be part of a social group you like

You may feel like to hang out with them you have to become ‘pally’ with your toxic friend so things “aren’t awkward”. This want of acceptance and validation is a slippery slope.

Stick to your guns, otherwise, you’ll find yourself back in the precise scenarios you’re trying to avoid.


Confide in people you trust

Two guys chatting.
Photo by Kenan Buhic on Unsplash.

Friends, family, or a professional can provide an ear to your problems, as unloading is healthier than bottling.

If these people around you are good for you, they’ll understand the emotions you’re feeling and why you want to make a change.  They’ll ensure that they don’t put you in a scenario with this person that you’d be uncomfortable with.


Our friendship group can hold an influential amount of power over our life.

You will become who you hang around with, so creating the right environment is very important. Sometimes, you may have to start from scratch, but remember that there are millions of other people who are in the same group.

They’re also wanting to find people with similar positive values to them. So if you ditch the toxic friendships from your lives, you’ll open yourself up to a world of possible new friendships with people like you.


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