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February 16, 2010

Dumping Your Toxic Friend

I am dumping my toxic friend. She and I had been friends since high school, but over the last few years, she’s changed into someone I hardly even recognise. I would say, the last 3 or 4 years, we’ve been more frenemies than friends. It’s been the usual sort of drama lately: rudeness, purposeful hurtfulness, and now backstabbing – I’ve had enough. After discovering some incredibly hurtful (and untrue) thing she has said about me and another friend, I’m taking the plunge. It’s Dump Time.

Dumping a frenemy is a lot like dumping a romantic partner. Your frenemyship may include a lot of secrets you’re worried about being spilled. You have mutual friends who might get caught in the crossfire. Fond memories of happier times may make it difficult for you to pull the trigger; as a result, you may stay longer than you ought to. Fear of reprisals may cause you stress and anxiety.

                How do you know if you have a toxic friend?

  1. You find yourself being anxious and stressed before seeing them. This is because you know that regardless of your plans, you will feel miserable at least part, if not all, of the time you’re together.
  2. You find yourself not talkin as much when you’re together. This is often because a) they interrupt you anyway to talk abou themselves or to talk down to you or b) you know they will attack you for anything you say anyway. A combination of both a and b is also possible.
  3. You find yourself feeling defensive when with them, and possible defensive at other people as well. This is because you are feeling attacked by your frenemy, and are amped to defend yourself.You do it to other people as well because it’s a hard feeling to shake, like an overload of caffeine.
  4. You find yourself with a headache/stomach ache/near drinking problem after they’re gone. The stress is causing this. (Well ok, the drinking is all you, but the headache/stomach ache or other physical symptoms are related to stress!) You should not need Advil after spending time with a real friend.
  5. You feel worse after talking to them, not better. This is because rather than relaxing and having fun, you’ve been on edge with a person who treats you like garbage. If you tried to talk out a problem (not a good idea) it wasn’t resolved, because they either made it about themselves or made you feel stupid. Either way, you don’t feel happy or relaxed.
  6. You find yourself arguing with them in your head. This is because you did not get out those snappy comebacks or awesome arguments when you had the chance. This may be because it was hard for you to think under the stress and pressure, because you couldn’t get a word in, or because you have good manners and didn’t want to make a scene. As a result, you have to finish the argument later, on your own. Not quite as satisfying.

If any of this sounds familiar, you probably have a toxic friend. Your experiences with them are always stress-inducing and anxiety-heightening, and yet you somehow feel guilty for wanting to call it quits. Ask yourself this question: What would I do with a girlfriend/boyfriend who treated me the same way? Chances are, you’d dump them and never look back. In a way, we ought to hold our friends to a HIGHER standard than our romantic partners, not lower.

What did I do? I sent my frenemy an email, laying out for her that  I know what she said about me, that I don’t appreciate it, and that I also don’t appreciate the way she’s been treating people lately. I told her that she has turned into someone who thinks they’re better and smarter than everyone else (not true) and that I think she’s unhappy with her own life, which is why she’s been making everyone else so miserable. I haven’t heard back from her, and I’m not expecting to. It doesn’t matter to me if she responds or not, as for me, I had to say what I wanted to say; her response, if there ever is one, will be secondary.

Now for those who say an email is passive-aggressive, let me say this: When you are dealing with someone who, at the best of times, doesn’t let you get out a full sentence, your only hope of getting to say exactly what you need to say is via email. Normally I wouldn’t go along with something like this, but in this type of situation, it was the only way.

Take action against the frenemy in your life. Take action for yourself and save yourself from the horror and suffering. The frenemy situation is one that does not get better with time, trust me on this. The last 4 years (out of about 13) have been brutal, and rather than ebbing with time, the issues have just increased in strength and number. No one is looking out for you but you. No one has the right to treat you like the trash under their foot. Stick a fork in your frenemyship; it’s done.

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2 Comment(s)

  1. Carl Langndon | May 23, 2010 | Reply

    Weird isn’t I’m going through a very similar situation with someone I have known for a similar amount of time. It’s got to the point were I have to call it quits.

    I realized I had been retaliating for some time returning the hurtful comments etc.

    So I stopped but my friend seemed to see this as a sign to step up the attack. Its bizarre really now every time we hang out my friend spends the entire time trying to damage my self esteem. There were a lot of good times but why keep putting yourself in the situation were you are continuously attacked psychologically? Especially when you can just walk away.

  2. S | Apr 6, 2011 | Reply

    Thank you for this, as I am going through the same thing with someone I have known for the same amount time or just more. It’s becoming so frustrating that I find myself tossing and turning at night and spending most of my time awake just thinking about it.

    I did really want to e-mail them also as it is true that the only way they shall hear you is via the words on a computer screen because talking to them is near neigh impossible as they never take responsibility for their actions.

    Who needs friends when you have enemies?!

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