When it comes to relationships, it can take some time to realise the pair of you don’t actually fit that well together. What started off as a bit of fun – silly memories, overfriendliness and constant attention – can turn out to be a bit false. Over time, you realise what people are really like.
But I’m not talking about romantic relationships, in this case. Although the facts still apply to loved-up couples, today I’m more interested in shedding light on toxic friendships.
Don’t get me wrong: a toxic relationship with your significant other can be frightening. I am by no means saying that toxic romantic relationships don’t, sadly, exist. But toxic relationships can come in various forms. With your intimidating boss at work. With your aggressive brother. Or with your so-called friend.
There are some red flags to look out for, when it comes to toxic friendships. They might call you their bestie, but do they make you feel like you’re constantly trying to compete with their 27 other best friends? Is there an imbalance in the friendship? Who is more committed? Stop messaging them first and see if they ever text, asking if you want to grab a coffee. Are they there for you through thick and thin, or only when they need something?
Toxic friendships can be difficult to escape because, often, they don’t just revolve around two people. Your relationship may be mushed into one big, overlapping friendship group. You’re trapped in the spider’s web. If you cut out your toxic friend, it’s going to affect the whole group. It may cost you your real friends too.
If this is your situation, then it is normal to feel like this. Toxic relationships – whatever form they come in – have tendencies to make people feel like they can’t escape. And while you may be surrounded by people, you might be completely isolated. But you have to remember something very, very crucial: no good friend would abandon you if you need to cut ties with an unhealthy relationship. Reach out to the important people in your life. They will support you.
A failing friendship is not the same as a toxic friendship. You might be pissed off with your bestie because she hasn’t messaged you in ages, but hasn’t she just started her new job? Isn’t she spending time with her family this weekend? I can go weeks, even months, without talking to some of the most important people in my life. We’re busy doing our own things in our own parts of the world. But I could still ring them up in the middle of the night, crying and hyperventilating, and I know they would do anything for me.
You have to work out who the important ones are in your life. The more important they are, the less effort it takes to work that out. The thing is, life is short. I know, I know – it’s getting a little cheesy, huh? But do not spend your life hanging around people who make you feel shitty. You will look back at that high school clique or those work colleagues and think, I wish I just told them to piss off. You will. How many of us would sit down with their younger self, and tell them to stop worrying what people think of them? But I’m not talking to my younger self anymore. I’m talking to the reflection in my mirror. Take the good things in your life and hold onto them. And if they aren’t worth a hug, then move on up.