7 tips for ending a toxic friendship

Break ups are never easy, whether it’s the end of a romantic relationship or a friendship. Here’s how to break up with a friend without making an enemy.

Toxic friends come in all shapes and sizes and unlike romantic relationships, friends don’t expect to be broken up with. Approaching a friend break up takes tact and a certain level of emotional detachment in order to come out unscathed in the end.

Relationship counsellor and author of The Relationship Revolution , Owen Williams shares his advice for breaking up with a toxic friend:

Why do you want to break up?

Evaluate the rationale behind why you want to end the friendship. Consider your history with the person — how do they make you feel when you’re together? Are they consistently jealous, negative or mean-spirited? Your friendships are a reflection of yourself and if this person is no longer an accurate reflection then it may be time to cut  your ties to them. “You need to ask yourself whether the friendship is a fit for you.  Does it work for you or not?” says Williams.

Accept your decision

Deciding to end a friendship may be one of the hardest decisions to make but once you’ve analyzed the relationship thoroughly then it is time to accept the fact that this person may no longer be a part of your life anymore.  Williams recommends writing a eulogy when we end a relationship in order to close this chapter in your life and start fresh.

Get your stuff and get out!

Just like a romantic relationship, you want to severe all ties to this person completely — meaning money, clothes, favours etc.  The last thing you want is a vengeful ex-friend with unresolved issues.

Choose a neutral location

If the person is a close friend, it is best to break up in person.  As the dumper it is important to treat the dumpee with respect throughout and keep your emotions in check.  A coffee shop is a great neutral venue to make the break — you can have your own private conversation, but are also in a public space so the friend is less likely to make a scene.

Always be prepared

Be honest with them, no matter how ugly because beating around the bush will only lead to confusion.  The delivery of the break up is the most important so make sure that you aren’t feeling angry or too emotional on that day. Stick to a straightforward but gentle approach, as opposed to accusations.

Keep it between the two of you

Williams warns against getting mutual friends involved.  “People love to pick sides, and picking sides is dangerous,” he says.  This is an issue between the two of you, and there is no reason to involve other people needlessly.  And by bringing other people into the situation, the dumpee may feel ambushed.

Post break up

The dumpee may attempt to contact you post break-up.  Ignore them.  “If you acknowledge their attempts, then you’re in the game again,” explains Williams.  Instead, during your break-up conversation, advise them that for a period of time you are not interested in being contacted. By indulging them you may give them hope that the friendship may be salvageable, and soon find yourself back in the same toxic friendship.

Owen Williams can be found on his Ask Owen blog on the Centre for Relationship Excellence website

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