There are many subtle ways a friend can be troublesome, from the one who only talks about herself to the one who just never seems to make it to plans even remotely on time.If you find yourself in one of these less catastrophic but still challenging relationships, fixing your toxic friendship might be an option.
No one is perfect and, thus, no relationship is perfect. Just because you consider someone your friend doesn't mean that she's never going to bother you, disappoint you, or even hurt you. The key is understanding whether or not they intended to do so, and realizing how often these negative behaviors are occurring.
If you find yourself in a toxic friendship, you have two options: cut ties or try and salvage the situation. No one should stay in a friendship that causes them more sadness and hurt than joy and laughter, no matter how close you used to be. If you still care about your friend and don't want to lose her in your life, then you have to take some sort action to fix things.
There are productive ways to make things better in a relationship, and there are unproductive ways to do so. Starting a fight, badmouthing her to others, or reciprocating her negative behavior are not effective ways to make things right. Instead, try some of these tactics to save your friendship — and hopefully, if she is a good friend, she'll listen and make an effort to change for the better.
1. Speak Up
Don't sit back and take her toxic behavior. Let her know that what she's doing that is hurting you. If she's always flaking, tell her that you want to see her and feel bad when she cancels on you. If her idea of humor involves making fun of you, tell her that she's hurting your feelings. She might not even realize what she's doing, and letting her know might be all it takes for her to stop (or at least make an effort to stop) doing so.
2. Don't Engage In The Toxic Behavior
If her toxic qualities are ones that cause you to start acting poorly as well — like partying too much, being unkind to others or constantly complaining — don't join in. If you abstain, she might be less inclined to continue.
3. Compliment, Complain, Compliment
When you point out what's bothering you, don't just come right out and tell her what she's doing wrong. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Yvonne Thomas suggested hiding the complaint between two compliments. If you feel she leans on you too heavily, tell her, "I love that you feel you can trust me in a time of need. But sometimes it seems like you only contact me when you need me to do a favor for you. I'm happy to help you out whenever I can, but I would really love to spend some time together just having fun, too."
4. Don't Focus On It
If her toxic behavior isn't harming you, but just annoying you — like someone who will talk about themselves for an hour before even asking how you are or someone who tends to focus on the negative — try to concentrate on her good qualities. Sure, she can be a bit of a Debbie Downer, but she's always there when I need her to listen. By trying not to harp on her adverse qualities, you'll be able to focus on why you actually do like abou having her as a friend.
5. Give Her A "Time Out"
When your friend starts in on one of her toxic behaviors, psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina told Huffington Post that don't engage, . Don't be outwardly rude, but do create some distance and take a break. When she asks why you've pulled back, you can tell her it was in response to the action that hurt you. This way, she not only becomes aware of what she's doing, but also learns that if she continues to do so, you won't stand for it.
6. Ask Her To Think About Her Actions
Put her on the spot a bit and ask her why she is acting the way that she is. She'll realize pretty quickly that there is no good reason to be flaky, rude, judgmental, or whatever other toxic behavior she is doing. Make sure not to put her on the defensive, though. Ask her nicely, "How do you think that makes me feel?" or "Why did you do (insert action here)? It really made me feel bad." It's another version of speaking up, but puts a little more of the responsibility on her, which might make her more likely to understand what she's doing wrong.
7. Move On
Some friendships just aren't worth saving. You may feel compelled to work toward salvaging the relationship because you have a long history together or you used to have fun with one another, but the truth of the matter is, some people just don't deserve your friendship. In a truly toxic case, you're better off moving on. While it might be difficult to say goodbye, you'll be happier in the long run. Losing someone who is bringing you down allows you to make time for real, better friendships where you mutually support and care for one another. You don't need to put up with someone who treats you poorly — so if you can't fix it, let it go.