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In high school, I was in a very toxic friendship with someone who I had considered my best friend. We were inseparable. We were childhood besties, and our friendship was going on 12 years strong. We did everything together, and our families were super close. But day after day, our friendship began to get more and more toxic. She started to try and control who I could and couldn’t be friends with. She caused a lot of drama in other areas of my life, and I would constantly feel belittled. 

Whenever I wanted to hang out with any of my other friends, she would get mad. She constantly told me I was only allowed to have one best friend (that of course, being her), and it was off limits to talk to anyone she didn’t like. Not only did she not want me to have other friends, but in our own friendship, she thought that she knew best. She tried to control everything I did and it got to a point where I realized that although we have known each other for almost our entire life, I did not recognize our friendship anymore. In fact, it was just causing me more stress and frustration in life. 

It got so bad that I decided to move school districts because I felt the need to totally remove myself from all of the drama, stress and frustration that she had caused. To anyone dealing with a toxic friendship or relationship, I wouldn’t advise you to literally move away from the situation like I did, but instead you should break away from the person who is no longer a beneficial factor in your life. 

If you are in a relationship with someone who you dread being around, is controlling or makes you feel belittled, you are in a toxic relationship. If you find yourself in that kind of relationship, you should start to distance yourself from that person and surround yourself with people who have the qualities of real friends: people who actually want to see you happy and content.

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If you are noticing early signs of a toxic relationship, before entirely cutting it off, talk to your friend to let them know how they are making you feel. After you have a conversation with them, you should soon be able to tell if they took your feelings into consideration and changed the way that they treat you. If your friend has changed the way they treat you and you start to notice a positive shift in the relationship, then that’s great! I know the idea of confrontation can seem or feel a little scary at first, but sometimes just talking things through can really make a positive impact. If after having a conversation with your friend you continue to feel belittled, then it is time to take it a step further and remove yourself from the toxic situation. 

For some people, cutting off a friend isn’t as difficult as it is for others. Your emotions while considering breaking off a friendship can vary, and that is totally normal. In relationships that are new, as soon as you see toxic qualities in that person, cut them off early on. It gets harder to cut them off if you continue to let the relationship drag on. Being in a relationship for a longer time period and then realizing that the friendship just isn’t working out can be a terrifying feeling because you have already invested so much time and energy into the relationship. However, realizing how the friendship is negatively affecting your life will make ending the relationship a lot easier. Make a list of the ways that this person makes you feel, and if the majority of the feelings are negative, then that alone should help you realize that you are not gaining anything from this friendship and that it is time to move on. Cutting off this person will make you feel so much better in the long run.

The most healthy way that you can go about distancing yourself from this person is if you tell them directly why you are choosing to no longer be friends. Sit them down and let them know that because of the way they make you feel, you don’t want to continue being around them. You can also mention that because you have already spoken to them about the negative ways they make you feel and they have failed to change the way they treat you, it is apparent that your feelings aren’t being taken into account in the relationship.

Doing it this way, as opposed to ghosting the person, is a lot better because it makes your intentions and reasons clear to the other person. If you were to ghost your “friend,” they could start to feel upset and frustrated because they don’t think that they’ve done anything wrong. This could result in more drama and more confusion which you are trying to avoid.

After you have taken this step to remove toxicity in your life, you may go through a rollercoaster of emotions. It will feel good knowing that the toxic people in your life have been removed, but it can also feel a little overwhelming because you just built up the courage to let someone know that the way they have been treating you is not okay. Eventually, all of the emotions that you start to go through will go away, and you will feel really relieved that you’ve removed this person from your life. 

The next steps are to find people who you enjoy being around. Join a club on campus and surround yourself with like-minded people so that you can create real friendships with people who will support you, be there for you and help you be the best that you can be.