Toxic friendships are far more common than we think, and many of us continue to try to keep those friendships alive. Perhaps we overlook more than we should because we want to be a loyal friend and hate the thought of being the kind of person who ends a friendship.
But if, over time, you find that a relationship is impacting your life in a negative way, ending that relationship can be the healthiest decision.
In an interview with WebMD, Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends explains, "Friendships are important everywhere, and they have positive things to contribute to all areas of your life... but that means they can also be toxic in any of these areas as well."
But how do you know if you're just having a rough patch or if it's time to end the friendship? Ask yourself these questions:
Is there give and take?
Though there will be times when you each feel like you're giving more to the relationship, a friendship should never become completely one-sided. Isaacs advises, "... if you've got a friend who is always in need, always in trouble, always wants to talk about her problems, then there isn't any reciprocity if there isn't any room for you in the friendship."
Do you feel constantly criticized?
If your friend is consistently pointing out your weaknesses, it's only a matter of time before that impacts your self-esteem, which undoubtedly carries over into other parts of your life, which is not only unhealthy for you, but also for the other relationships in your life.
Do you still enjoy the friendship or do you hang on out of obligation?
People change over time. Some friendships are wonderful when we're young and carefree, but cannot endure marriage, children and career changes. A friend who you truly enjoyed simply may not be a person you want to spend time with anymore.
If the answer to these questions is yes, then it might be time to end the friendship.
To extricate yourself from the relationship, you can either stop returning phone calls and making plans with your friend and hope that she picks up on your cues, or you can be honest and explain that you need to make a clean break. Though honesty is a great policy, it isn't always easy to be blunt with another person who you cared about.
Whether you choose to be up front with your friend or you simply pull away, it's important that you stay committed to your decision, as it's unfair to your friend to send mixed messages.
Though breaking free from a toxic friendship can be difficult, the rewards can be freeing and you'll likely find yourself happier than you've been in a while.