Every aspect of our life is rife with differences. However, most of them have one thing in common, especially in today’s world of social media. Our ability to create connections and friendships. Very accurately classified as social animals, we are highly unlikely to get through any portion of our lives without having made a couple of connections.
Over time, we realise that some of these relationships that we have developed over time tend to be more draining for ourselves than enriching. Psychologists have a term called “toxic relationships”, which describe the state of affairs pertaining to these relationships. I am sure every reader has a face in their head while they read the evocation just given.
It becomes difficult to sustain something that doesn’t bring you joy, but if the said person has become a crucial part of your life, it is just as difficult to let go. It is, however, prudent to take the necessary steps to either nurture or purge such a connection. In this particular piece, we are going to look for solutions when the nurture option is no longer viable.
Without further ado, let’s dive in to how should we go about letting go of a toxic friendship.
Acknowledge the problem
We as humans are quite adept at rationalizing. “Oh, he’s in a bad mood because his boss yelled at him” or “She is not usually like this, something wrong must have happened”. There is nothing wrong with someone having a bad mood a few times. It is good for friendship when people express themselves fully.
However, if the account is persistent, and it becomes really a burden to constantly have to respond to someone, or worse even, the outburst becomes personal towards you, something needs addressing and that too, promptly.
The beginning of solving any problem starts with the acknowledgment of the problem. Evaluate the situation, and make an admission of the delinquency.
After making up your mind about the future of this camaraderie, the most obvious thought, which I’m sure must have crossed everyone’s mind, is to stop contact altogether. If that’s possible for you and you’re comfortable doing it, go ahead. If not, take small steps and limit contact with them as much as possible.
What should we do when the contact is from the other side? It’s rude to not respond, and it’s also out of the norm that you have with them. There is no right way to respond to this, but in my opinion, just make sure that you take a mental inventory of what is your state of mind when you’re talking with them. Don’t be reactive, just take a deep breath, and respond in an appropriate, calm, and composed manner.
Practice emotional detachment
The next step is to internally, take a step back. Say you were prioritizing their emotional well-being at a higher level, it’s time now to take them off that pedestal and start taking care of yourself more. Listen to what you want to do, instead of thinking about what you’re supposed to do.
Let’s say they start ranting about something that went wrong during their day, or they start saying something about your reduced communication. Instead of getting worked up, stop, and understand that the right thing to do now is to not fuel the fire any further. Listen to everything, and don’t act out.
Pull the plug
Slowly and steadily, the time will come when you’ll have to confront the situation and officially end a toxic friendship. Do this in person. Don’t do it over a text message or a phone call. It is about mutual respect, which should be a value that all of us should practice.
Tell them politely and for the love of God, make use of neutral words.
While the steps outlined seem pretty easy. But the actual process could be much messier and more complicated when actualized. Make it a note to check in on yourself when you’re feeling weird about the relationship ending and deal with them appropriately. This is significant because any suppressed emotions have the potential of harming your future friendships.
Give the time you have at your hands now to hobbies you want to develop, gain skills, or nurture other relationships in your life.