With the new year, many people are purging and cleansing the mess in their life. Look as closely at your contact list as you do your closet. Toxic friends can be as out-of-season as JNCO jeans and gaucho pants, only meant to be in our life for a season.
I’ve always described myself as a “textbook Pisces”: passionate, emotional and extreme. People will get multiple chances to fix wrongdoings, but once I’m done, there is no room for rekindling. In the immortal words of Nene Leakes from Real Housewives of Atlanta, “The door is closed!”
I will block the person from my phone, email and all social media. They may reach out to my sister, mom or husband who will simply say, “That’s between you and Ro.” My inner circle supports my actions because they know that is what works best for me.
Only you know your limits. Some people, like me, have a low tolerance for drama and find it hard to interact with wrongdoers. Others have a high propensity to forgive and can help toxic people see the error of their ways. Not everyone needs to follow my extreme measures, but it is essential to protect your peace.
Me feeling zen and calm, knowing I have no toxic friendships.
How do you know if someone is toxic? What is the protocol for ending a friendship? Below are five questions you might ask yourself to determine if your friendship is worth keeping:
- Do you dread seeing them? Maybe this person has been your friend for 10+ years, and you feel obligated to be around them. The stress may impact your body physically- headaches, feeling sick to your stomach; your body is a barometer to pinpoint when something isn’t right. If you feel anxious when it is time to meet up with your friend, they may be toxic.
- Do they disrespect your boundaries? There may be a subject off-limits to you, or something that makes you uncomfortable to speak about. When you resist, they may fill you up with guilt until you cave in. If this person pressures you or insists that you share details with them, they may be toxic. Friends should, at least, make you feel safe and comfortable.
- Does this person criticize you or put you down? Perhaps they give advice with a self-righteous attitude. A toxic friend will rarely compliment you and will likely point out areas that you could improve on. The criticism may be direct (like commenting on your weight gain), or indirect, by downplaying your worth. For example, a toxic person may say you are “lucky” to have your spouse or attribute your fit body to good genes.
- Do they energize you or drain you? Do they make you feel calm or unnerve you? If you find yourself more stressed than happy around this person, they may be toxic.
- Is there an imbalance? The talk time may be all about them, with nothing left for you. The friend goes on and on about their life without listening to you. A toxic friend will not celebrate your joy, achievement or successes. They have little interest in your happy moments, doubt the validity or resent you.
Every friendship has peaks and valleys, so it is normal to go through rough times. However, the good times must outweigh the bad. Friends should bring company and comfort to your life, not exhaustion and frustration. If a so-called friend or family member is exhibiting toxic behaviors, I suggest guiding them to a swift ”stage-left” out of your life. Surround yourself with those who uplift you and add to your peace.