As the song goes, “Breaking up is hard to do” – not only with boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses, but also with friends. As we move through life and gain a better sense of self, and as we learn to prioritize our time and where we place our energy, sometimes it can be painfully clear that it’s time to say goodbye to that friendship that was more toxic than tender.
What is a toxic friendship? A toxic friendship is one that is a high maintenance and dysfunctional relationship with someone that neither values, nor validates, you as a person. When in a relationship with a toxic friend, you often feel uncomfortable and diminished.
Why do you attract toxic friends? To begin with, you gravitate to people with whom you are familiar emotionally. In a sense, they have characteristics similar to your family of origin. As a result, they allow you to do what you already know how to do and think you can do. What you are really doing, however, is working out your childhood patterns… the good, the bad and the ugly. You are unconsciously drawing into your emotional sphere a person who lets you do what is familiar and comfortable. However, when that pattern is resolved internally, there is no longer any need for the friendship and that’s when you hit that frustration point and you are really through.
Why should you let go of a toxic friend? Anyone can hold on to friends such as this, but the cost is great, because toxic friends demean and damage both your heart and your soul.
This is where you must step into your adult self and find a way to step away from the toxic friendship. Often, these friendships will fade naturally. You may stop going to the same events, stop inviting each other over, and eventually stop calling or emailing each other.
As you create distance between the two of you, you may begin to breathe a little easier, and feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. This is how you know you have removed a toxic friend from your life – it is not always easy, but at the end of the day, when you weed your friendship garden you make room for healthier relationships.
It is only through recognizing and acknowledging toxic friendships that you can take back your childhood projections, integrate them, and both heal and free yourself. Then you will gravitate to that friend who meets your needs, nourishes and inspires you.