8 ways to avoid or end a toxic relationship

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

I just posted about my own personal experience with a toxic relationship. Here is a more objective description along with 8 tips to help you avoid or end a toxic relationship.

Even though I think most people know a toxic relationship when they see it, I still think a definition is in order.

A toxic relationship is a relationship between two or more people. It involves some toxic activity ranging from:
  • dangerous stuff like abuse, drug use and other illicit activities
  • less dangerous, but just as toxic things like lying, stealing, and cheating
  • most common toxic relationships I know of consist of more subtle things like one person "using" another or bullying the other person through guilt or threats

These are the relationships where one person feels the other is "draining the life out of them."
This is not healthy! Your friends should make you feel good and supported. Friends should be fun!

Ok, now that we've identified a toxic relationship, here are 8 ways to avoid or end the relationship:

1) Be weary- when you first meet someone, look for ANY signs that things may get toxic. See my list of warning signs

2) Be picky- no one NEEDS to have 224 friends on face book. In my opinion, a person only needs three to five good friends to be healthy

3) Be available, but- not at anyone's beck and call. You should always maintain your own, separate life outside of the friendship

4) Be aware of their other friends- if your their only friend, there could be a toxic reason for that

5) Breaking up directly- tell them honestly, but tactfully. "I think we need a break from each other." "I feel like I don't have the time for this friendship right now." "I need to spend more time with other people right now." Notice these are all "I" statements that put the burden on you, not them. This doesn't have to be any more confrontational than it needs to be.

6) Breaking up, "fade style"- this can be done by slowly decreasing contact and future plans, while becoming quite busy in another part of you life. If done correctly, the other person may be mad, but not overly enraged.

7) Breaking up, the blow off- this may not be the nicest, but it does work well in some situations. You can start by blowing off some instant/text messages, emails, etc. Then move on to making plans that you won't keep. Forget to call them or send them a card. This sends a strong message that you aren't good friend material and should allow them to feel THEY ended the friendship.

8) Breaking up, legal means- OK, this is a last resort, for sure, but if things have gotten stalkerish or violent, you really do need to get a restraining order or order of protection. Contact your local police for more information. Sadly this was the direction I had to go in my own toxic relationship.

How do you end or avoid a toxic relationship?


Sheila June 19, 2009 at 9:56 AM  

I had a 'friend' some years ago.. that was toxic, and have worked in a toxic environment. The 'friend', well she was demanding and rude. But me, being a people pleaser (no longer)thought she was just misunderstood. I baled her out so many times, even after she was rude and insulting to me in front of others.I won't bore you with the list of transgressions, but it is amazing to me now that I tolerated them.Out of the blue about 15 years ago, (we hadn't been in contact for maybe 17 years) she tracked me down and wrote me a letter. She was telling me things you don't confide in a priest! It was scary that she had found me, but I burned the letter and the photos of her and her family, and really until right now I hadn't given her a second thought.
Sometimes friendships don't have to be toxic to end, we just outgrow them, and nowadays I'm not afraid to end them if I feel that way. I just become unavailable and it fades out.
Life is just too short....

Maggie Madison June 19, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

@Sheila--I'm glad you learned how to end toxic friendships. I hope this gives people the know-how and motivation to walk away if they need to.