Toxic Friendships: How To Cut Ties With The Mean Girls In Your Life
While it comes to female friendships, it’s unfair to assume 1) there must be a Burn Book involved, and 2) at least one friend is the Regina George (aka, devilish Queen B) of the group.
We can thank “Mean Girls” for these generalizations, but we can also accredit the movie for its realistic portrayal of toxic female friendships.
In Girl World, not every friendship can be like the "Ya-Ya Sisterhood," with a blood-oath bonding women for life.
Instead, many female friendships include any (or all) of the following: talking behind each other’s backs, spreading rumors, stealing boyfriends, starting drama, intentionally leaving someone out, etc.
All unpleasant aspects mean that, oftentimes, you’re better off just walking away (and hopefully not in front of a school bus).
Alyssa, 22, experienced this with a group of women she used to consider her best friends.
“They always had a way of making me feel like an outsider,” she says. “I didn’t watch any of the same shows as them, and they looked down on me for wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Their mistreatment even extended to her boyfriend, whom they also ignored. “They would do things without inviting me, and at parties, they wouldn’t socialize with anyone except themselves.”
Alyssa admits she often overlooked this sort of behavior, attributing it to them “just being who they are."
Alyssa reached her breaking point after her group of friends left without her on a road trip for a mutual friend’s birthday.
She felt completely betrayed, and it confirmed her fear that she wasn’t a valued member of the group.
“Friendships shouldn’t leave you feeling as though you’re not good enough, like an outsider with the people who are supposed to be your best friends.”
Lauren, 22, experienced a similar blindside with a best friend she once considered a sister.
“It was like she suddenly became a stranger, and there was nothing I could do about it.”
Looking back, she’s now realized the toxicity of the friendship and how it had been continually bringing her down.
“As hard as losing someone so close to me was, it made me stronger because I know the people who truly care about me would never want to hurt me the way she did. I believe everything happens for a reason, so by letting the friendship go, I finally feel free.”
Ending friendships like this can feel similar to a romantic breakup. Oftentimes, it hurts even more.
We usually believe every friendship we enter into will last forever, and there is a very real possibility of becoming "lifelong friends" with someone.
If you feel as though you are in a toxic friendship, here are three ways to end it:
1. Realize it’s a part of life.
Once we enter our 20s, we often hear, “You’ll drift away from many of your friends.”
While we may fight this, we have to realize that, above all, life happens. Seeing your besties is no longer as easy as stopping by their lockers in-between classes.
In your 20s, change tends to be inevitable. You may enter into your dream career, get married, have kids or move out of the country, which are all exciting and thrilling aspects of life that may keep you from those you love.
If your friends are supportive, this won’t be a big deal. With the toxic ones, however, they may grow jealous of your success and try to bring you down with them.
If someone is threatening to end your friendship over you being unable to come out and get sh*tfaced on a Tuesday night, it may be time to cut ties.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as coming to terms with the fact that she no longer jells with the person you’ve become.
Realizing this is only half of the battle. You also have to be patient while waiting for new friendships that are more in line with who you are now, rather than who you were five or 10 years ago.
2. Cut off contact.
This method may seem heartless, but it’s as clear and direct as can be.
I used this tactic while I was ending a toxic friendship last year. I had reached my limit with this person.
She continually treated me like sh*t, and I had grown tired of being pushed around.
At first, it was difficult. I would have to sit there and resist the urge to hit TALK on my phone when she called. But, the more I did this, the easier it became.
Eventually, she got the message, and she stopped calling and texting altogether.
It was life-changing to finally put my needs first, especially after I had pushed them aside for so long. I found peace with my decision, and I have honestly never been happier.
3. Have a friendship breakup.
As I stated before, friendships "drift away" all the time during your 20s. Just scroll through your Facebook homepage, and prepare yourself for all the feels.
You'll realize you haven’t talked to 90 percent of the people on there since graduation.
Sad, right? But, it's not uncommon.
While friendship drifting has become an almost expected part of growing up, friendship breakups have not.
In order to handle it the right away, you must approach her directly and explain how you’re feeling.
Avoid confrontation by using "I" statements, instead of saying things like, “You make me feel like this.” This will only make her defensive and turn the conversation into a battle.
When all is done and over with, PsychCentral says crying and writing a letter you never intend to send can help you survive the aftermath of your friendship breakup.
“Let yourself be sad. Losing a best friend is just like any other long-term relationship ending. It sucks. It may feel lonely and embarrassing. Moving on will be an adjustment that takes time, but there is no shame in feeling awful for a little while.”