How to Gracefully Exit a Toxic Relationship
We've all been there. There's that one friend that we just don't see eye-to-eye with, that doesn't make us feel good about ourselves, yet we can't seem to find the right way to say goodbye. A toxic friendship can look like a number of different things. It might be someone who doesn't support you by always finding downfalls in your triumphs. It may be an individual that only wants to gossip about others, making it painfully clear that at the end of the day you truly have nothing in common. It may be the girl who lives in a constant state of negativity - and consequently you feel her dragging you down, too. However the toxicity manifests itself, it can seem nearly impossible to escape.
And it's perfectly normal to feel that way. The thought of cutting ties with someone you were once close with can feel overwhelming and sometimes nearly impossible. Here are a few strategies you can use to gracefully exit any toxic relationship you may have.
1. Have a Conversation
Having an honest conversation about how you are feeling is a good way to air your grievances and give the friend a chance to express themselves, too. It's important to not blindside the other person as that can often lend itself to misinterpretation and even unintended hurt. Moreover, allowing a truthful and kind conversation can give both of you closure.
2. Speak Kindly
It's tempting to speak ill of those who create conflict in our lives. Gossiping about the toxic friendship can offer us temporary relief, but in the end, it only hurts both parties. Instead, challenge yourself to journal, mediate on, and speak only kind words when referring to the friend. That doesn't mean lying, but it does mean abstaining from using name-calling, unnecessary language, and other nonconstructive tactics.
3. Give Yourself Time
Leaving a friendship that played a significant role in your life can bring up a lot of different emotions. It's easy to tell ourselves to just "get over it" or "move on" but allowing time to heal from the loss is really important! This can look like anything from going on weekend hikes, spending time with friends who elevate you, or finding a new hobby to occupy yourself with. Listen to your body and understand what it is that you need.
4. Acknowledge the Good
This goes hand-in-hand with speaking kindly of the other person. One of the best ways to allow healing to take place is to reflect on what that relationship did for you. Maybe the person introduced you to an artist you've grown to love, they encouraged you to take a risk, or were there for you in a time of need. Often, toxic friendships begin as good, positive friendships and morph into something less desirable over time. Paying homage to the positive parts of the relationship isn't necessarily to mend the relationship, but rather to shed positive light on your memory of said relationship.
5. Be Courteous
Just because you choose to cut ties with a friend doesn't mean your interactions have to be stiff and cold or that you have to ignore each other. Personally, this is a mistake I have made in the past and I wish I had been better about offering warm hello's and goodbye's when I saw the other person! Allowing kindness to manifest itself in all areas of your life - even the one's that may have caused you pain - will allow for stronger relationships with others in the future and a better relationship with yourself.