This is another chapter from my book about female friendship break-ups. This chapter deals with how to identify a toxic friend.
“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”
Sometimes you reach a point in a friendship where you realize it is unhealthy for you to remain friends with this person. Your family has told you to cut ties with your friend, your other girlfriends are aggravated by how much this particular friend has hurt you, and your boyfriend, fiance, or husband is just about ready to kick this girlfriend to the curb for you. We will deal with the following questions in this post:
- How do you know when to let a toxic girlfriend go?
- What are the warning signs?
- How do you let that toxic girlfriend go?
1) How do you know when to let a toxic girlfriend go?
It is time to let this friend go if every time you hang out with her you are feeling like you are about to go into an emotional boxing ring.
Toxic girlfriends will tear you down at every opportunity. Whenever you hang out, talk on the phone, and text this person they take the opportunity to point out a flaw or tell you how to do something. They might make statements that are just plain mean and hurtful or they might make passive aggressive comments towards you.
I experienced this on a constant basis for almost a year. It seemed like whenever Jenelle (my former bff and the inspiration for this book) and I interacted I left or hung up the phone feeling hurt, disrespected, and or angry. For example, after my twenty first birthday Jenelle took the liberty of telling me why I was not a very good party host. She told me I did not hold long enough conversations with guests and that at parties you cannot relax. She told me this despite the fact that this small gathering at my house was not a formal party and despite the fact that she had never thrown a party without the aide of her overbearing parents in her life. (Maybe I am still a little bitter about this particular insult-I’m a work in progress.)
This rude comment insulted and infuriated me to my core. How dare someone I call my best friend basically suggest that I am a bad host? In my birthday card she wrote that I was too caring. These kind of comments started occurring on a regular basis and I felt like I was in a ring with someone who just wanted to beat me up and tear me down.
If you are feeling this way when you hang out with your so-called friend it is time to let her go. Let me gently remind you that this is not the way true girlfriends treat each other. True girlfriends are there to support and encourage each other not tear each other down. True girlfriends will give you constructive criticism WHEN YOU ASK FOR IT but they would never even think about dishing insults out like there’s no tomorrow. You do not deserve to be treated this way and you should respect yourself enough not to take this kind of treatment.
If you feel like you are constantly in competition with your girlfriend it is time to let her go.
If you feel like your girlfriend is constantly trying to “beat” you at a competition you were not aware you two were in, it is time to let her go.
In college I worked as a front desk agent at the Holiday Inn for a year. It was a good experience and I learned a lot. When Jenelle and I broke up she went after my job not once, not twice, but three times when she saw we were hiring. She wanted my job so she could beat me and one up me. Thankfully my boss knew about the situation and did not hire her.
We discussed what colleges we were going to go to and she told me she deserved to go to a college we both wanted to go to more than me. Why she couldn’t be excited about the possibility of both of us attending this college is still a mystery to me.
Girlfriends should not be in any kind of competition with each other. Your best friend or any friend should not be trying to “beat you” at anything. If said girlfriend is talking about how she has better grades than you, how she knows more about life than you do, how her beliefs and culture are better than yours, how she could get a particular guy and you couldn’t, how she is prettier than you or how you don’t understand the world like she does it is time to let her go.
Why would you want to be friends with someone who wants to beat you? Girlfriends are there to enrich your life, support you, and cheer you on. True girlfriends do not tear you down.
2) What are the warning signs of a toxic girlfriend?
After you end your friendship with the toxic girlfriend (we’ll talk about that in number 3) you need to be on the lookout for other potentially toxic girlfriends and STAY AWAY from them. My personal experience was that my blinders were completely off after Jenelle and I broke up. I had unconsciously surrounded myself with other girlfriends while Jenelle and I were fighting and having issues because I felt like my friendship with Jenelle was going to end.
One of these girlfriends turned out to not to be such a good girlfriend. Jane (all names have been changed) was my rebound best friend. Jane sucked the life out of me. At the time I was just relieved to have friends after my best friend was out of my life it left a huge hole and I needed someone to fill it. Jane was manipulative, high-maintenance, immature, self-centered, and boy did she love the DRAMA. Everything was a production when Jane was around.
After going out the night before I was content to throw some sweat pants and Uggs on to get a coffee from Starbucks, not Jane. Jane had to do a full face of makeup, a head to toe dressy outfit, and was constantly flirting with anyone who glanced her way no matter what the occasion was. It did not matter that she was in a serious long-term relationship at the time. She wanted all eyes on her at all times no matter what.
Jane and I had a nasty falling out and had I paid attention to some of the warning signs I would not have befriended her. Jane did not have a solid support system of girlfriends when we became friends. I felt sorry for her but I did not think that Jane not having any girlfriends said anything about Jane as a person. Jane gossiped and said nasty things about everyone which could explain why she did not have any stable friendships.
If someone does not have a solid support system of girlfriends that says something about them.
Why don’t they have any girlfriends? Why do people keep exiting their life? Women who are good people to be friends with have girlfriends who have been in their life for an extended period of time.
Does this person have a healthy dating background?
If somebody is a serial dater or falls in love with every guy she meets that is something to pay attention to. Jane never shut up about her then boyfriend Adrian at the time, they were always fighting, it was always his fault, and she would flee to me so she could talk non-stop about her problems. This was not enjoyable for me. Your potential friends dating background and dating life will enter the friendship make no doubt about it. Pay attention to that because it also says a lot about that person.
What does this person talk about?
Both Jane and Jenelle talked about guys ALL. THE. TIME. Nothing was as important as their boyfriends-not school, not work, not their family. I like guys just as much as the next girl but that is not all I want to talk about. I want to talk about music, art, education, goals, finances, and my faith. Now I try to befriend people who can talk about those things with me.
Is this person stable?
You want healthy and stable people in your life. You want people in your life who elevate you. You want to spend time with people who have direction and are secure within themselves. Avoid the drama queens, the party girls, and the girls with lots of relationship drama.
3) How do you let that toxic girlfriend go?
This one is tough. I did not let go of Jane or Jenelle very gracefully and despite the fact that I believe they were both toxic forces in my life I know I deeply hurt both of them and that is something I am sorry for. I cut both of them out of my life with no warning or explanation. I stopped picking up the phone, answering texts, gave them back their stuff either by dropping it on their door or sending a messenger to do it for me. It was a nasty and cruel way to handle it-I admit it.
It hurt me a lot to cut both of them out of my life. I did not act with kindness,grace, poise and I make it a point now to try handle everything with as much kindness, grace, and poise as possible. Going cold turkey after an intensely close seven year friendship with Jenelle was VERY painful for me. I feel like three years later I am over it but it still stings sometimes.
I cut off Jane after a two year friendship. I had referred to her as my best friend and I know I really hurt her by cutting her out of my life the way I did.
I would not recommend this path as a way to get out of an unhealthy and toxic friendship. I think it is easier to slowly ease out of the friendship but not to burn any bridges. One of my good friends eased out of an unhealthy and toxic friendship and still has a- once-in-a-while friendship with their former bff. I asked my friend how she did this and she said she slowly stopped being available for hang-outs, stopped answering texts, and got busy with her own life so she just could not be available as much. Over an extended period of time she was able to gracefully ease out of the friendship and redefine it as a lesser frequent friendship.
A lot of friendships will die a natural death over time. People change and it is okay. Let the friendship take its course, but do set boundaries, articulate those boundaries, and do not do anything rash or dramatic. Letting go is more mental than physical. You do not have to make a big drama out of the fact that you are letting this person go or easing out of the friendship. Just live your life and keep it moving.