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How Can I End A Toxic Or Damaging Friendship?

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Friends are arguably the most important part of our lives. As we grow as people, we inevitably change and sooner or later almost all of us will begin to realise that some of the people we are friends with are not good for us.

Knowing when and how to end a toxic or damaging friendship is extremely important. Here are some tips and tricks on how to do just that.

#1 Have an exit strategy

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When we think of breaking up a friendship we tend to get nervous and it is common for people to convince themselves to inaction just to avoid the discomfort of “the talk.” This happens a lot with friendships because we don’t usually think of them as a serious commitment as we do a romantic relationship so we go against our instinct and decide to sustain a friendship that, though not romantic, is still draining. Having an exit strategy allows a person to strike that balance of cooling off the friendship gradually. Perhaps you're not as available as you once were. Perhaps you're posting photos attending different kinds of social functions with different people. 

Contributors: Sanam Hafeez from Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services

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#2 Own your decision and prepare to explain

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The friend may confront you, commenting that they haven't seen you or feel a distance. There's nothing wrong with explaining that you decided to take your life in another direction and have been really focused on making some changes. Tell them that you'll always consider them a friend and you are choosing a new path. 

Contributors: Sanam Hafeez from Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services

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#3 Offer constructive feedback

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This isn't about them. This is about you choosing another path in your life and the people you want in your circle. So if they push, explain that you will always cherish the friendship and the memories from that phase of your life. Then be kind and honest. Let's say you are committing to a weight loss journey, your old clothes and old friends simply won't fit anymore. Own your choice and say, I'm choosing to lose 50 pounds and get my health on track and I have to remove myself from Sunday football parties with high-calorie foods and alcohol. Let's say you're getting married! You're simply not going to want to be out every weekend with your old college crowd who are still single. 

Contributors: Sanam Hafeez from Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services

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#4 Mitigate the drama with an in-person meeting

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When you overcome the initial nerves and are ready to have that conversation you must avoid starting it over the phone, neither text nor talk. Honor the friendship by suggesting an in-person meeting. This will also limit drama or public outbursts. Come to this talk from a place of peace and empathy but also from a place of self-worth. This will allow you to be considerate of the other person’s feelings while still putting your interests first. 

Contributors: Sanam Hafeez from Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services

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#5 Be gentle

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Be gentle with how you frame the situation. Its not all about what you say, but how you say it. 

Contributors: Rori Sassoon from Platinum Poire

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#6 Avid making them defensive

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Communicate why you are breaking the friendship in a way that you are being clear with “what doesn’t work for you” and also in a way that doesn’t make the other person defensive. 

Contributors: Rori Sassoon from Platinum Poire

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