One of the perks of being an adult is that fact that you can choose the type of people you want to be around. For a long time, as an adult I struggled with friendships. As an introvert I generally find it difficult to form new friendships quickly and I like to think I’m fiercely loyal to my existing friends. It took me a long time to realise that although you might know someone for years, it doesn’t mean these “friends” are good for you.
Let’s break this down a little. During our years through schooling and education our friendship circles generally consist of people that are in our class. After you leave school it can often seem like time has cemented our friendships together. Forever. An unspoken bond where we feel our loyalties must lie. After all, we did endure that awful maths teacher together for a year so we have to be friends for life, right? What about if these friendships always leave you feeling down or inadequate? What if you’ve changed grown and you’re not the same person you were when you were 12 years old?
What is a toxic person? Unfortunately they don’t come with hazard labels to warn us. Instead they come in all shapes and sizes, often taking the form of people you might regard as good friends. Luckily there are a number of signs that allow us to identify whether your friendship is toxic.
Signs and symptoms:
Feeling low or drained after meeting your friend – Now don’t get me wrong, we all go through periods where we just want to rant or moan non stop and there’s nothing wrong with being negative in and about certain situations, however if you find that you’re being very affected by someone else’s negativity, then there’s something to be mindful of.
An unbalanced friendship – By this I mean if you’re finding that you’re constantly the one who has to compromise. If you’re always making the effort and it’s upsetting you.
Feeling Judged – If your friend is making you feel like you’re not able to be your true self around them. If you feel judged or uncomfortable talking about or doing things without their approval.
Being manipulated – This could be into doing things you don’t want to do or even changing your beliefs and opinions into something you don’t agree with.
Feeling unsupported – If you feel like you can’t turn to your friend in your time of need.
**I just want to point out here that these signs are only for when you feel like these situations are affecting you negatively. If you’re happy to be the proactive one that plans all your meet ups then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Cutting all ties with someone you’ve known for a long time can be a difficult task, especially if you’re anything like me and hate confrontation. The first thing you need to do is recognise the effect the relationship with this person has on you. If you’re having to defend their behaviour, ask yourself why?
If you do come to a realisation that someone is indeed ‘toxic’, you’ll automatically start creating some distance with them. Don’t apologise for this. It’s also perfectly OK to say to them that your friendship isn’t the same any more. Instead surround yourself with people and things that make you smile.
Drastic changes can often be difficult to get used to, especially if these “friends” were a big part of your life; find new things you enjoy doing and connect with those that have similar interests to you – Twitter can be a great place for this. Lastly, find a healthy outlet for the stress or guilt you might be feeling (scrapbooking, blogging or even exercising) for initiating these changes.
Why bother with cutting out old friends?
It’s important to surround yourself with supportive people that encourage you to be the best version of yourself every day. Negativity is easily transferred and all the energy that goes into stressing about potentially irrelevant people could instead be put into doing something wonderful with your life. Life is too short to be held back and even though we need relationships to get through life, we don’t need every relationship. You deserve to be happy and ultimately the only keeper of your own happiness is you.