Some of my readers have asked me: “How to cope with toxic friends?” I didn’t realize that this problem is so common. Here are some tips which you can instantly use to improve your relationships:
“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
— Albert Camus
1. Acknowledge That They Are Toxic
Read my articles about toxic people, for example, this one (10 toxic people to avoid). Now look at your friends and define which type of toxic people they represent. For example, they may be critics, complainers, control-freaks or when they play behind your back. Any of your friends who is using verbal abuse (like ridiculing or name-calling you) does not deserve to be your friend.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
Now when you know what type of toxic person is your friend, you can start setting your boundaries. Firstly, define your boundaries. How much space do you need in the relationship? What is the give-take balance? Are you listened and are your needs acknowledged by your friend? How do you both treat the differences (e.g. different tastes in music, attitude to life? These are only some examples of healthy boundaries. The next step is to define, which of your boundaries have been crossed by your friend. Then have a serious talk with him or her. Assert that they should treat you with respect. If it does not work, time has come to move on.
3. Accept That It Might Be a Process
Getting rid of toxic elements is rarely easy. They might not respect your boundaries now, Don’t deceive yourself that they will respect your boundaries later. Beware of the danger that your friends might come back even after you tell them to go away. You might have to tell them to leave several times before they finally do. So Also, you will not become assertive during one day. Sometimes it may take a time to clearly and firmly communicate to your so-called friends that you are cutting the contact. Keep in mind that distancing yourself is a gradual process.
4. Never Feel Like You Owe Them a Huge Explanation
Tell them how you feel, which is a subject not open for debate. You can also keep it simple: Tell them calmly and kindly that you don’t want them in your life anymore, and leave it at that. It is up to you how much or how little you tell them. Every relationship requires a different approach.
5. Talk To Them In a Public Place
Toxic people can become belligerent or even violent. Talking to them in public can significantly diminish the chances of this happening. If you run into problems, you can just and leave or ask other people for help, in case they treat you with physical violence.
6. Block Them On Social Media
Technology makes distancing more difficult. Therefore, never leave any window open for them to bully or cajole you. You have set boundaries, so remember to stick to them. Shutting down email and other lines of communication with a toxic person might also be in order.
7. Never Argue
It is tempting to fall into the dynamic of toxicity by arguing or fighting; that is precisely what toxic people do. Be prepared for their violent reaction to your message of ending the relationship with them, or even because they have to hear the brutal truth about themselves. Sometimes they may return to your life. In this case, make a promise to yourself to avoid an argument. Firmly restate your boundaries, then end communication. Do not feed the trolls.
8. Write a Letter
Writing yourself a letter is a sort of dress rehearsal for an in-person conversation. Clarify your thoughts and articulate your feelings. You can also refer to the letter later, for example in the case when you may need to remember why you made the decision to cut someone out because toxic people often do everything they can to stay in your life. Never forget the way they have treated you
Consider creating distance instead of separation. You do not need to cut these people out of your life completely, just create distance by occupying your time with other friends and activities.
How do you cope with toxic people? Share your experience leavging a comment.