I recently had to let go of a friendship that was no longer working for me and I have no regrets. I can count on one hand the number of friendships that have ended on bad terms throughout my life. I am a good friend and I show up for my people (sometimes to my own detriment). I always considered this friend a “high maintenance friend.” I knew that I gave 90% more in the relationship than I received and had accepted it. I simply knew I couldn’t have too many other friendships in that category. In my family, there is a tendency towards enabling those you love and co-dependency. It took several years in therapy and practice to begin the process of creating boundaries in friendships and relationships to see that this friendship had become too toxic to remain in my life. Here are my big takeaways from letting go of a toxic friendship.
Relationships are Transactional. I was listening to a fantastic podcast titled We Can Do Hard Things by one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, about friendships. The episode is called “Reese Witherspoon on Friendships: What, Like It’s Hard?” This episode had me laughing, crying, and nodding my head the whole time. I was fresh out of the friendship break up and it was such a cathartic unpacking of friendships as an adult. One of the big concepts that has stayed with me is that friendships are transactional. There must be give and take. We all go through tough seasons where we may need more support than other times, but overall, you should be receiving something in return in a relationship. I realized my friendship had not been equal for at least 5 years and I had given pass after pass after pass. A friendship should be like a checking account where you put time, energy, and love into the friendship and also withdraw time, energy, and love. Our relationship had become like a credit card. She used me as much as she wanted and paid the minimum payment each month.
You Should Feel Uplifted After Spending Time with Them. The relationship became a chore. I left interactions feeling depleted or second guessing what she meant by this comment or that comment. With time, the relationship became all about serving her needs and I put my needs on the back burner.
We Didn’t Have Anything in Common. We both changed tremendously from the time we became friends and connected. I didn’t feel authentic around her anymore. It was too emotionally exhausting to pretend that our lifestyles, interests, and views on the world matched.
I No Longer Felt Safe in the Relationship. I didn’t know if information that I shared with her would be used to embarrass me in a group setting. She also became extremely sarcastic. It was difficult to judge what was a joke and what was passive-aggressive sarcasm.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” – Marie Kondo
If a Friendship No Longer “Sparks Joy,” Pull a Marie Kondo and Let the Relationship Go. Marie Kondo is an organizational expert with her show on Netflix called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” After choosing to get rid of an item in a home, Marie will thank it for the years the item has served her well. It’s ok and healthy to acknowledge the good times with a friendship and then let that friendship go.
I Have Peace. I know that letting this friend go was the right thing for me with the amount of peace and emotional energy I have left at the end of the day. I do not regret the decision for a minute!
If a friendship is no longer working for you, remember that you are an adult. You get to choose what relationships work in your life and what relationships no longer serve you. Be brave and take care of yourself!