Despite being a trending buzzword ‘toxicity’ is very real and can be serious, especially when identified in someone who is close to you. Platonic friendships come and go, some are for life where others are just for a period, however sometimes, these friendships aren’t healthy and need to end.
Below I will discuss what I would consider to be a toxic friendship, how to get out, and how to recover after deciding to cut ties.
Toxic friendships can be hard to spot, many disguise themselves under the gaze of being a supportive friend and yet they are anything but. In any stage of life, friendships are a compelling and necessary tool to our personal growth, in our adolescence we search for common interests and playmates, as the mind grows we crave fellowship however don’t dwell on the emotional capacity of these people.
As we grow into adults, the emotional connection becomes more prominent, people entering university are desperate for friends to lessen the loneliness and share the struggles of moving away from home for the first time, thus leading to anyone becoming a part of their lives.
As we hit our stride in life, friendships become less frequent and harder to make, companionship is the ultimate goal, but finding time for it is hard to configure.
Oftentimes, we are stuck with the people we are surrounded by, co-workers, school friendships and family members are all we know but often lack the unique support system every individual need.
Oftentimes toxic friendships are hidden under the demise of attention, leading to a passive feeling of guilt when that friend is not present, then come the subtle digs and backhanded compliments. Likewise, the control comes into play, (“you would look better in this”) or (“you don’t suit that, it makes your arms look big”) these are seemingly harmless comments from a caring friend.
However, when constant they play on your mind, leaving you insecure and always looking for ‘your friends’ support. When discovering that your friend is toxic you start to notice all the perfidiousness that has been going on, leaving you a feeling of confusion, just days ago you thought this person always had your back.
The betrayal of a toxic friend can generate feelings of anxiety and massively impact your mental health, especially when it is a group who seem to team up against you: the exchanging of glances, the inside jokes and of course the secret group chats that don’t include you. with the power balance, off, making you feel small, you may assume that this is normal and begin to accept it, however there will come a time, when these people are removed from your life, where they are begging to be in your space again.
Do not let them.
I have had my fair share of toxic friends, from men with hidden agendas to girls with victim complexes, I personally struggle particularly with power dynamics; as someone who suffers with anxiety, and clinical depression, maintaining friendships is extremely hard for me.
I go through periods of isolation, and very rarely feel the impulse to venture outside the house, following the pandemic I feel this is something that resonates with many people.
After having been locked inside for nearly two years, our social urges are not as strong as they were pre-pandemic as we have become accustomed to our own solidarity, however many so-called friends have not been respectful of this and struggled with others’ isolation. In the end, we must realise our own worth and that real friends would always accommodate to our feelings.
So how did I do it?
To realise my own worth, it took a lot of inner growth, stepping outside of the body per say to self-actualise and dig deep on what it was that I enjoyed, and vice versa. To do this I started journaling, putting my thoughts on paper helped me to separate the significant from the insignificant, allowing me to divulge in the activities I enjoyed in my solitude.
Exploring these activities on my own enabled me to branch out to find friends with similar interests, a personal hobby of mine is reading: joining a book club, or an online alternative, can be beneficial as it stimulates conversation surrounding these similar interests. Likewise, these days gaming include chat forums, creating a direct connection to you and those who also play.
In my personal experience, some of my best friendships have derived from social media, reaching out to people on it then connecting and developing friendships, making it a great tool, when used safely.
Finally, don’t be afraid to be alone, your people will find you, and in the meantime, focus the energy you previously spent on toxic people, on yourself.