Nearly everyone has experienced the suffering that results from a toxic friendship — the type where a so-called friend shows one side to your face but another when your back is turned, or when someone you thought you could trust lets you down in your moment of need.
Toxic friends can come in all shapes and sizes, and range from nearly harmless to being sources of negative, unhealthy energy. As a matter of fact, 84 percent of women and 75 percent of men report having had a toxic friend at some point. The quality of our social relationships affects our mental health, physical health, and mortality. For this reason, it’s good for all of us to try to avoid toxic relationships and the people that contribute to them. Here are some tips for dealing with fake friends if you are unfortunate enough to have them.
Know The Difference
Not all friends who do something wrong are bad friends. There are times when friends fail us not because they are trying to be manipulative or to sabotage the relationship, but because they are human and they make mistakes. The people you should avoid are the ones who put on a front of being sincere and reliable but, in fact, don’t truly care for you or your feelings. No one should make you feel stupid or lesser. If they do, you’re dealing with a toxic friend.
Not everyone you encounter has your best interests at heart, including some who you might think are your friends. It’s important to be cautious when opening up to people you don’t know very well. When you are asked about personal matters, give short and sweet answers until they can prove to you that they’re trustworthy. Though we often desire to be open and trusting with others, it’s not always the best idea. One way to gauge this is to look at how this person cares for their other relationships. Are they a good friend to others? If not, chances are they wouldn’t be a good friend to you either.
Let Them Be
If you do discover that one of the people in your life is toxic, it may be your best option to just leave them alone and keep the peace. These could be people like colleagues, neighbors, or that pesky uncle! Taking a neutral stance toward these individuals and making it a policy to limit interactions with them whenever possible may eliminate much of the stress they cause.
Cut Them Off
If you can live with not having to see that person ever again, the simple solution would be to try and ignore them. But sometimes this isn’t an option. Although it may seem harsh, sometimes your only option when dealing with a toxic friend is to ask for space.
Being assertive to protect your own feelings is not wrong. If interacting with the person causes anxiety, makes you feel manipulated, or drains you emotionally, it is very likely that something about the relationship is toxic. Talk to the person and tell him or her why you no longer want to keep the friendship. This is the most adult way to break off a relationship, especially if you have known the person for a long time. This route is most appropriate for people who continue to bring negative, toxic energy into your life.
Sooner or later, you will discover that there are people in your circle who are not the friends you thought them to be. You have many options, but the best option to improve your own life is to seek out new relationships in which you feel valued and respected. It may require a longer amount of time to find genuine friends who value you for who you are. But it is always worth the effort if you are able to find a friend who truly cares.