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RESOURCES FROM RESURFACE

Can You Fix a Toxic Friendship?



Realizing that you're in a toxic friendship can be painful. Maybe you've realized you're the toxic person in the relationship, and now you're trying to see if you can resolve the situation. Or, perhaps, you've made some significant growth in your life, and now you're reevaluating the quality of some of your friendships.


In some cases, it's possible to improve an undesirable relationship. But in other cases, you may need to step back and redraw the limits. Let's get into what you need to know.


Signs of Toxic Friendships

Toxic relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and not everyone realizes they're in an unhealthy dynamic until engaging in deeper self-reflection. That said, toxic behavior tends to be more consistent and pervasive over time.


Here are some common features of a toxic friendship:

  • you frequently or always feel bad after spending time together

  • you feel pressured to engage in activities that you wouldn't ordinarily do

  • other friends don't like spending time with them

  • you find yourself frequently enabling or making excuses for their behavior

  • you tend to feel happy when plans get canceled

  • you avoid setting boundaries or confronting their behavior to avoid causing problems

  • they frequently blame you or criticize your behavior

Assess Whether You're Willing to Change First

Although it's easy to point fingers in a toxic relationship, if you want to remain friends, you'll need to consider the role you play in this dynamic.


For example, are you willing to set boundaries about the behavior you're willing to tolerate? Are you willing to look at the positive benefits of spending time together rather than only reflecting on what went wrong? Are you capable of giving your friend the benefit of the doubt when you know they're going through a difficult time?


Start by focusing on yourself. Strive to be the friend you want to have and then reassess what still might need to change.


Determine What You Need to See Your Friend Change

Few people are 100% toxic. Instead, they may have a few traits that you find undesirable. For example, maybe they monopolize conversation. Or, they gossip about other friends or refuse to hold themselves accountable.


This is where you need to establish your main priorities in a relationship. What is and isn't tolerable to you? If a certain behavior is non-negotiable, you need to identify and convey that to your friend.


Other times, it may be more about finding a mutual place of acceptance. Your friend may not change their behavior (nor do they need to), and only you can decide if that's worth dealing with.


Assess Whether It's Toxicity or Incompatibility

Do you have toxic friends or have you just become increasingly aware of your differences with certain people? Sometimes you spend time with a close friend only to realize that you don't have much in common or that your personalities clash.


If you care about this person, it certainly may be worth the effort to still stay connected. You can come together to find a common ground.


Take a Break and See How You Feel

Sometimes you may not realize how much a toxic friend is affecting you until you step away from the relationship. If you're very close, it may be beneficial to spend time apart for at least a few days or weeks.


Then, pay attention to how you feel. Are you noticing yourself gravitating toward other friends? Do you feel happier or more confident about yourself? Have you identified that this relationship may be causing more harm than good? Time doesn't always give complete answers, but it does open some space for reflection.


Talk About Your Feelings

Good friends treat each other with respect. If you've felt hurt by your friend's behavior, it may be worth having an honest conversation about your needs.


Talking it out with mindful communication can lead to a few outcomes. First, your friend might respond positively and make a genuine effort to fix things. Or, they might respond positively but not make an effort to change. It's also possible that they become hostile or defensive.


That said, these reactions all provide useful data. By seeing how your friend reacts to feedback, you may have more insight about what you want to do with the relationship.


Building Healthy Relationships and Improving Your Self-Worth At Resurface Group

Negative relationships can unquestionably take a toll on your mental health. A good friend should value you for who you are and honor the integrity and boundaries within your friendship.


Unfortunately, as we move through life, we sometimes have to accept that not all friendships last. While this can be painful, it's equally important to remember that priorities shift, making space for new friends and new ways of living.


At Resurface Group, we understand the importance of strong friendships in daily life. We also deeply understand the intersection between your relationships and your emotional well-being. If you're struggling with your mental health, substance use, or other life circumstances, we are here to support you.


Contact us today to learn more about our dynamic programs, including our new virtual IOP, Resurface Connect.

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