Magazines always warn you about toxic relationships, how to stay away from the bad boys, how if he’s hurting you to leave straight away and how to know when enough is enough. What they don’t tell you is how to deal when it’s your friend that’s toxic. Well, sometimes they do, but the true reality is so much harder than their glossy articles on ‘frenemies’ proclaim.
You know when you watch a tv show and the abused girlfriend/wife keeps accepting the apologies of her boyfriend/husband and continues to go back, and you sit at home and think “How stupid, I would never do that!”?
Magazines don’t tell you that when your friend lies to you and then apologises, when they make you cry and then tell you it won’t happen again, when they forget to ring you back after promising you they will, but then say they’ll ring asap and don’t, you will accept their apologies. You will say it’s ok and that you want to remain friends. You will try your absolute hardest to stay friends, even when they don’t exactly reciprocate. If anything, their rejection makes you try harder. Just like the abused wives, you believe they are capable of change. You believe that they will go back to how things were at the beginning.
And then one day you decide not to care anymore, that the friendship isn’t worth it, and guess what? They get angry at you. They try to guilt trip you into believing it’s your fault. And guess what? You start apologising. You actually believe it truly is your fault, that you’re the one to blame. You think maybe you’ve been too hard on them, maybe something has happened in their lives that has made them like this, and you shouldn’t make their life worse. You forget the months of emotional abuse you have been on the receiving end of and just do whatever they want. Soon you’re back in the vicious cycle of trying to win their friendship and be good enough for them.
The thing is, they’re not good enough for you. One day something’s going to happen to make you realise it has to be over for good. Maybe you’ll see a comment between them and another friend talking about you. Maybe you’ll discover they never really liked you. Maybe you’ll see they’ve been doing the same thing to other friends. Maybe it will be all of the above, and more.
A friendship break-up is so much harder than a relationship break-up, especially if the friend involved once carried the title of ‘best’. You shared your secrets with them, you went to them when times were tough, they were a shoulder to cry on, you shared your favourite memories with them. It’s hard to let go. You don’t want to let go, because all you can think about is the amazing times you had together.
The other thing that’s hard about it is there are no rules for a friendship breakup. You can’t just walk up to them and say “Look, it’s not you, it’s me”, or text them saying “This just isn’t working. Sorry.”. There are no corny cliches or etiquettes. Do you just stop talking to them? Do you explain what’s happening? Do you let a mutual friend do the explaining?
The entire situation of having a toxic friend is hard, and there is no easy way around it. What I can tell you though is once you do let the friendship go, and surround yourself with friends who actually like you and want to be friends with you, and put the same amount of effort into the friendship as you do, well, you’re going to be a lot happier. Maybe one day the toxic friend will come to their senses and apologise, for real, but until then it’s a harmful waste of your time. If you were in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend or husband, you’d expect someone to want to help, to offer you advice. It’s time we started doing the same thing with toxic friends. They can be just as harmful, even if it’s not physical. Life is way too short to have friendships like these, and you deserve the best, even if it means the pain of saying goodbye to a long term friend. Just remember, to get to the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.
frangipani princess xoxo