After many signs, contrasting thoughts and mixed emotions, you may have come to the realisation that a friendship you have is ‘toxic’. But what now?

A toxic friendship simply describes the a situation where a relationship has gone sour. Interactions between the people in said relationship feels wrong, is characterised by negativity, and doesn’t bring out a healthy side in both members of it.

While it hurts to see your one-time great friend as a toxic individual, the truth is, you are better off without them dragging you down.

Instead of your friendship featuring compassion, kindness and general positivity, you will encounter negativity, attitude problems, criticism and self-serving behaviour among other areas.

It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that a friendship is toxic. So, when you have recognised this, what should you do? We take a look in this article.

Toxic friendships can leave you feeling trapped

1. Ask Neutral Parties their opinion

Sometimes, we incorrectly perceive certain events. It is possible that you have been misinterpreting comments or actions from the so-called toxic person.

To ensure that it isn’t just you, it may be an idea to approach a neutral party – someone who will have no agenda, and will just tell you the truth. The idea is to speak to this person, and tell them your situation.

The person will either confirm your suspicions, or suggest what the person may have meant when doing whatever it is that seems to have raised a red flag. Once they have given their opinion, this should inform your choice.

2. Talk to them

A very important step is to talk to the person, of course. Tell them your concerns, the way their behaviour impacts on you, and why it is hurtful.

Unfortunately, they may refuse to acknowledge that they are hurting you. They may be offended, accuse you of being toxic, or simply ignore it, hoping that things will return to normal the next day.

If the person does do any of the above, then that is an almighty red flag, and it will confirm to you that the friendship is well and truly toxic.

Remember, no one that has you in their best interests will make you feel small, or will intentionally hurt you.

Hopefully though, they will acknowledge their errors, which may lead to a new leaf being turned in the friendship. If so, proceed with caution, and remember to keep on the lookout for signs of toxicity.

3. Step Back from the Toxic Relationship

By now, it is time to take a step back, so that you essentially begin your release from them – which is something that can take time and will be difficult, but is worthwhile.

Avoid any immediate attempts from them at reconciliation – a grovelling apology will typically follow once you have been ignoring them for a few days.

Sadly though, these apologies are normally just empty words, and the vicious cycle will continue if you forgive them. After enough time, you could always contact them to set up some boundaries.

Relationships can be toxic

4. Set Limits

A key step is to establish boundaries between you and the “friend”. This may lead you to feeling selfish or highly-stubborn, but it is for the best.

These boundaries may involve shutting down communications, unfollowing them from social media applications and anything else that involves potential contact.

This could be seen as the real end of a toxic friendship. But from stepping back to setting limits – this should all be done over a gradual period. A slow, comfortable release of your friendship is advised, as this will be best for all parties involved.

5. Move on with Life

Now that the person is essentially out of your life, you can proceed on with your day-to-day life. Hopefully you’ll develop new friendships, and better yet, you should be prepared to spot any potential red flags.

When enough time has passed, you may reach out to your old friend, but most will want to cut ties completely. Ultimately, realising the consequences of their behaviour will probably end up doing them many favours.

Getting to this endpoint is difficult, but having this weight off of your shoulders makes the process worthwhile. No one deserves to be in any toxic relationship, whether its platonic, sexual, or even family-related.

The Takeaway

As human beings, we all yearn for positive relationships with people we care about. Unfortunately though, many relationships and friendships turn toxic, which can prove distressing for all involved.

Noticing when a friendship or relationship is toxic is difficult – but once it is identified, the road to recovery begins. The aim is to restore a positive relationship, or to walk away and leave the issues behind.