We often look at friendship breakdowns as a negative, but when mouldy fruit is added into a fruit bowl with perfect fruit, you will notice that it spoils the rest quicker as it releases toxic gases. This here is the perfect analogy for today’s topic - all about the sisterhood of adult friendships and releasing the ones who no longer align with your life. It isn’t about who you have known longest, it should be about the ones who love and support you in who you are authentically here to be.
What determines a toxic relationship or friendship?
If you're starting to question or feel like your bestie or friend is no longer the best thing for you, chances are you're in a toxic friendship. This kind of friendship has a tendency to sneak up on people because the signs are often subtle. But generally, a toxic friendship emotionally harms you, rather than helping you.
You can tell a friend is toxic when they cause stress and sadness or anxiety and don't help or encourage you to be who you want to be. And if all that weren't enough, a toxic friendship can also drain you and make you doubt yourself.
Here are some signs that you may be in a toxic friendship:
- You give more than you receive
- You no longer trust them
- You dread picking up the phone to them or answering
- You don’t enjoy spending time with them
- You don’t like who you become when you spend time with them
- You know they talk about you behind your back
- You can’t depend on their advice
- Your values don't align
- You’re embarrassed by their behaviour towards others
- They put you down, instead of lifting you up
Being in a toxic friendship can do a real number on your mental health by depleting your energy, making you lash out on loved ones, and even lose sleep. So if you aren't getting what you need from a friendship, then it may just be time to leave it in the past. As hard as it may be, it is necessary - not only to you, but to them also.
You need to set healthy boundaries, and stick to them. Establishing healthy boundaries is so important. Boundaries are put in place to make sure that your mental health comes first - always. If you have a friend who's always relying on you to help with her stuff (but never helps you in return), tell her you can't—every time.
You're going to have to be direct. It may feel awkward or uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. Be neutral yet firm as you tell them this relationship is no longer serving you - for example you could try saying “I know you've noticed that I haven't been spending as much time with you lately. To be honest, my life's moving in a different direction. I value the friendship that we've had, but I don't see us being able to spend as much time together anymore."
Remember, you should always be aware of who you are giving your energy to. And keep an eye on the company that you keep, because that company becomes you. Essentially, you are your closest 5.
The 5 people you spend the most amount of time with, you eventually adapt to. Their belief systems only take 18 months to merge with yours and you start to align with their morals, actions and way of thinking pretty quickly.
Your circle should be full of individuals who support your goals, but also tell you when you are in the wrong. It’s important to have friends and people in your circles who call you on your bullshit too. Often we get stuck in circles that tell us we aren’t the problem or agree with us - when in reality a dose of tough love is exactly what we need to have self awareness of a pattern or behaviour.
Never apologise for cutting out people, being ruthless with who aligns and who you are not wanting to become most like. Remember the 5 people you hang around most you will start to mirror, so it’s important to ask yourself - is that a reflection of who you want to be?
I dive further into toxic friendships in my Flourish & Fulfilled podcast. You can listen to the full episode ‘Releasing Toxic Friendships That No Longer Serve Us’ on Apple Podcast or Spotify.