Do you have a friend who feels like an energy vampire? They drain your energy, make you feel low, and for some reason, they’re still in your life. It’s not easy to let go of a friendship, especially when you’ve invested so much of your time and resources into building the relationship. But instead of letting them go completely, there are ways to help you set healthy boundaries with a toxic friend for yourself and your relationship. Let’s dive in.
10 Signs a Friendship is Toxic
Unfortunately, friendships can take more than they give and leave you feeling heartbroken, depressed, and underappreciated. But it’s not always easy to see the warning signs before you’re left analyzing what went wrong. So, if you think you have a toxic friend, here are a few red flags;
- They disrespect your boundaries
- They lie to prove their point
- Use manipulative tactics to get their way
- You feel physically drained and exhausted
- Refuse to take accountability for their actions
- They guilt-trip you for having other friends
- You can’t be yourself around them
- Consistently dismiss your values and needs
- They give you the silent treatment when you stand up for yourself
- You can’t trust or rely on them
6 Types of Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are an inherent part of self-care that help us filter what is acceptable and unacceptable in our relationships. And there are six types of healthy boundaries you can set and maintain in your friendships with associating examples to support you;
- Physical boundaries regard your personal space, body, and privacy – For example, “Please knock before entering my room“.
- Emotional boundaries involve your feelings and what you’re comfortable sharing -“I love you, but this is not a great time to talk“.
- Intellectual boundaries concern your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas – “You and I have different opinions, but that’s okay“.
- Sexual boundaries involve intimacy, consent, and rules about safety – “I’m not comfortable being touched that way“.
- Financial or material boundaries are your possessions and finances – “I’m sorry, but I can’t lend you any money. How else can I help you?“
- Time boundaries involve setting limits regarding how you value and prioritize your time -“I have to go home in 1 hour“.
Each type of boundary will help you value your self-worth and protect your needs to create a healthy relationship for yourself and your friendships.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries with a Toxic Friend
1. Know your worth
The most important tip to learning how to set healthy boundaries with a toxic friend is your self-worth. If you don’t value or respect yourself, the company you have may reflect these internal wounds. Therefore, dive deep into your core values, how you see yourself, and what you deserve. When you spend time building your confidence and self-esteem, there will be certain behaviors that come to the surface that you won’t tolerate in others. And knowing these behaviors will be your guiding compass to setting boundaries and communicating your feelings.
2. No is a complete sentence
No is necessary when setting boundaries with a friend and asserting yourself. It may feel awkward at first, especially if you have a habit of people-pleasing, but over time, when practicing this habit, it will become easier. For example, if your friend is pushing you to hang out and you don’t want to, simply say, “No, I can’t”. There is no need to provide an entire backstory about your decision. You can also offer the truth and say, “I’d rather stay home and catch up on me-time”.
3. Decide what you’re willing to handle
After reflecting on your core values, identify what you’re willing to accept, what is non-negotiable, and what you can comprise. In certain situations, you and your friend may need to accept your differences and find common ground. For example, if you prefer to stay in and your friend prefers to go out, you’ll both need to be open to meeting in the middle. However, don’t desert your needs for the sake of your friends. Learning to set boundaries means valuing and creating space for what is important to you. And if you’re the only one compromising, it’s an unfair equation that will only leave you more hurt and upset.
4. Be understanding of both sides
It’s important to evaluate the relationship to see if it’s repairable. To do so, look at both sides with an open heart without becoming defensive. For example, if you’re hurt about something, voice your concerns, but also allow them to share theirs. One way is to say, “Hey, I’d like to talk to you about something that hurts my feelings because I value our relationship, and I want to move forward. When you do (behavior), it makes me feel (emotion)”. When you approach the conversation concerning both parties’ feelings, you’re creating an environment that enables you to mend the relationship empathetically.
5. Create consequences
After everything, and your friend still isn’t making you feel great or supporting you, make it clear that you will no longer accept certain behaviors. For example, if they refuse to take accountability for their actions, say strongly and clearly, “I don’t like how you treat me, and if you continue to disrespect me, we can no longer be friends”. In this example, you are assertively explaining your boundaries, feelings, and resulting consequence.
6. Limit your expectations
When you set boundaries, the people in your life may not respond how you like, but their response is an indicator that reveals more about their character than yours. Continue voicing your concerns and what you need to feel comfortable in your relationships. You have every right to end friendships for your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Signs You Need to Move On (and Tips to Help)
There are several reasons why you may need to consider cutting ties, but the most important indicator is evaluating how you feel around them. For example, if a friend regularly demeans you and you feel your confidence has taken a hit, your friendship probably isn’t worth maintaining. Additionally, if you feel nervous, anxious, or generally unsettled, these are all red flags that it’s time to move on. To do so, follow these tips;
- Set boundaries, maintain them, and communicate consequences
- If your friends are not respecting them, communicate your emotions clearly and indicate why you are ending the relationship
- Afterward, spend time soothing and taking care of yourself. For example, spend time with loved ones, meditate and journal, fill your life with things that brighten your soul, and consider speaking to a mental health professional. They will help you heal subconscious wounds, build your self-value, and prepare you for healthier and more loving relationships
Learning how to set healthy boundaries with a toxic friend can feel intimidating. However, any friend worth keeping will respect your boundaries, and your friendship will grow as a result. Yet if it’s time to cut ties with this person, know that what you’re doing is what’s best for yourself, emotionally and physically. After all, you deserve a network that uplifts, supports, and encourages you to be and achieve your best.
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