Spiritual Maintenance: Letting Go of Toxic Friendships


Photo courtesy of Simply ATL

Photo courtesy of Simply ATL

I’m baaaacccckkk! I know. It’s been way too long, and I promise not to take a 6-month hiatus like this again for a long time. Life has been moving at the speed of light, and I am now a married woman. Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Mrs. Lewis! LOL

Now into today’s heavy topic… whew! Where do I begin? Toxic friends can feel like a huge burden on your chest. It can feel like you’re gasping for air, but no one is there to save you. It’s deep. Toxicity interferes with the energy around you and tries to suck your soul away like a tornado. Can anyone relate?

None of this is good for our well-being, but often times it’s difficult for us to cut ties. Why? Maybe you feel guilty for ending the friendship; or maybe you have allowed the amount of years you have been friends to outweigh the quality of the relationship. It’s never easy to let go of friends. Especially if you didn’t fall out with them, but it’s necessary. Many friendships have expiration dates, and a lot of us are stuck in moldy, stinky, friendships that should have ended months or even years ago.

As an empath, it’s challenging to leave people. We feel responsible for them. We often have thoughts like, “Are they going to be OK if I leave?” or “They don’t have any other real friends.” However, what I have been learning in therapy is that my feelings matter and that I have to stop protecting people. I have to put myself first, and leave situations that no longer serve me. I cannot constantly think about how people will react to what I say or what I decide. My only responsibility is to be true to myself and state my boundaries firmly, but respectfully.

Photo courtesy of Lifehack

Photo courtesy of Lifehack

Friendship should not feel like a strenuous duty. Yes, there are peaks and valleys like any other relationship, but if you constantly feel stressed and uneasy, it’s time to make your exit. Know that your former friend will be alright without you. They still have God to lean on. So move on in peace and get your sanity back girl! Not sure if your friend is toxic or if you should let the friendship go? Here’s a few things I’ve observed over the years…

You automatically feel drained when you see their name pop up on your phone:

When your phone rings or you receive a text from them, often times your first thought is “Here we go again.” (cue Trina and Kelly Rowland) LOL. Your spirit and mood is automatically affected. You feel like you’ll be on the phone for hours talking about things that stress you out and it’s not even about your life.

They are selfish and the friendship is not reciprocal:

Of course friendships are not 100% reciprocal, but it should feel balanced. If you can confide in me about personal issues and cry on my shoulder, I should feel comfortable enough to do the same in my time of need. If your friend spends most of their time talking about themselves and rarely asks about you, RUN! This will lead your friendship down a road of destruction. Maybe your girl doesn’t know she talks about herself a lot. If you confront her in love, and the behavior makes no type of improvement, it’s time to part ways. No one wants to feel like they’re the only one giving something of substance in a friendship.

They take lowkey jabs at you to put you down:

This one is a little more tricky to pick up on simply because when you’re friends with someone, you don’t want to believe that your friend would try to make you feel bad. You might believe you’re overthinking or you might even make excuses for them, but if it’s constant, you can no longer ignore it. For example, your friend might downplay your accomplishments by talking about someone else they know that accomplished the same/similar thing. They might paint the other person in a better light so it seems that what you did wasn’t that great. This is sneaky, manipulative, and might even be a subconscious thing that your friend does to keep their envy at bay. They might believe that if they knock you off your pedestal, that they will feel better. A jealous friend? No way! Yes way! They’re more common than you think.

They’re secretly (maybe not so secretly) envious of you:

Your friend is absolutely toxic if your entire friendship feels like a competition. They always have to one-up you, or divert the conversation back to them when you’re getting too much praise. Your friend should be one of your biggest cheerleaders, not a hater on the low. Yes, you might reach goals that they aspire to reach before them, but that should motivate them, not pit them against you. The envious friend compares their life to everyone else’s and tries to soothe these feelings by making backhanded comments like “she might have this but she does this.” This type of friend will try to dig up anything that isn’t perfect about the thing you have and they don’t.

They have NO sense of accountability:

Everything feels like an attack to them if you confront them about their words and actions. All of a sudden they were not aware and did not intend the things that you perceived. Even if their words/actions were not intentional, a true friend would apologize and ask how they can be a better friend. These friends make it seem like you are trying to make them into a horrible person. They cannot see their own faults.

They are the opposite of an empath:

Obviously everyone isn’t an empath, but a good friend has empathetic qualities. They can relate to your situations, you feel emotionally connected to them, and you can be vulnerable with them. If your friend easily lets friendships go, does not foster friendships, and cannot empathize with you or people in general, this might be a difficult friend to have. These friends want you to feel bad for them, but do not have the emotional capacity to do the same for you. You can often tell who these kind of people are by seeing how many friends/acquaintances they have and the quality of the relationships, and how long the relationship has been sustained. If they can’t keep friends, it’s THEM not you.

They disrespect boundaries:

A toxic friend couldn’t care less about your boundaries no matter how many times you state them. If you find yourself having conversations over and over again and you have told them that the conversation crosses a boundary, they don’t have respect for you our your mental peace. These friends might also make misinformed assumptions about people close to you, which may lead to you being offended. Often times, this friend doesn’t know what is and isn’t appropriate to say in certain situations.