Getting Rid of a Toxic Friend

According to a new survey, 84 percent of women and 75 percent of men say they’ve had a bad friend at some time in their lives.  On top of that, 83 percent of both men and women say they have held onto a friendship longer than it was healthy.

Why is it so hard to dump a bad friend?

People keep toxic friends for the same reason they stay in all kinds of relationships:  There is something in the friendship they don’t want to lose. They find something about it compelling, familiar, and/or comfortable.

Essentially, they are afraid of the consequences.  They are afraid of what will happen, or they think the friend might turn on them and things will get even uglier, or not having very high standards, they just don’t really want to let go because they think it will be OK.

My standards for a friend are very, very, very high.  He or she has to be a really decent person.  I have friends of all different religions, sexual orientations, ethnicities, personalities, and genders.  The commonality amongst them is that they are decent people.  That is where I put the bar.  If I know someone is not a decent person, then I’m not interested.

You know when friends aren’t friends.  They take, you give.  There’s no balance.  They do not accept who you are.  They betray you, they’re negative, they have no respect, and they’re ultra-critical with digs, put-downs, and sarcasm.  They diminish you so they feel better.  It’s pathetic how vicious some people can be.

But do you know what?  People who are really crappy human beings somehow still have friends!  It’s either because birds of a feather flock together, or it’s because some people are OK being friends with a crappy person as long as the crap isn’t turned on them.

So many times on my program, this has been heard:

Caller: “I’m just stunned they did this to me.”

Me: “Were they doing it to other people?”

Caller: “Well, yeah, but I’m really stunned they did it to me. I thought we were friends.”

Me: “Have they done that before?”

Caller: “Well, yes, but I thought this time….”

It doesn’t pay to play blind.  If you are friends with someone who is indecent, it is eventually going to splatter.

Some friends just bring out the worst in you.  When you’re trying to take care of your health and not eat or drink as much, they’re the ones who drag you down.  They say, “This is not necessary, let’s go have coffee and cake,” or “Let’s go have a drink.”  It makes you so aggravated you either become withdrawn or ferocious.

Other friends always disappoint you.  They don’t do what they said they were going to in the way they said they were going to do it.  And each time you just say, “Well, stuff happens.  I’ll get over it.”  But they do this because they don’t like or respect you, your spouse, your kids, and/or your family.  There may be some legitimate issues with them, but usually they are just insecure, jealous, or mean.

So, how should you break it off with a toxic friend?

My suggestion is you have an honest conversation with him or her.  Just say that these things typically happen.  Say you’ve gotten tired of him or her, you’ve lost interest in the relationship because it hasn’t changed, or that he or she has hurt you.  Suggest the two of you take a break and after some period of time, see how you both feel about it.  That leaves the door open for the person to do a little bit of soul searching.  He or she probably won’t, but at least you’re not coming down with a hammer.

If you really don’t want to interact, it’s probably best to click delete on their messages whenever possible and do not respond to protestations or attacks on you out of defensiveness.

Life is very short.  If people aren’t decent, kind, accountable, responsible, or responsive, man up and get rid of them.  Put your time, energy, and sweat into becoming a better person and having better people in your life.  If you don’t do this, your life will not be as good as it could have been.  Besides, the friendship is probably going to end someday anyway.

Here’s a list of “12 Types of Friends You Should Break Up With”