Award-nominated Brum-based style blogger. Keen on sustainability + minimalism. Big fan of chocolate-coated pretzels.

Toxic Friendship

Toxic Friendship

I have experience with extremely toxic friendship and I wanted to write a post that could offer advice and support to anyone who is in a toxic friendship or has been previously. I’ve put together a list of my top tips for those in a situation like I was (or those who think they might be), and a couple of clues that I picked up on which confirmed the friendship’s toxicity.

If I could sum up what I’ve learned from the experience, it would be to remember that if someone intentionally makes you feel bad about yourself in any way whatsoever, they do not deserve your time – you owe them nothing. No matter how good your memories are together, they are no longer putting your best interests first.

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My Experience

Around two years ago I stopped a toxic friendship that I’d found myself in. We’d been friends for a couple of years but it had slowly grown unhealthy. The speed of the deterioration, however, meant that I didn’t notice quite how much it was affecting me until one night I found myself crying uncontrollably after realising that I’d lost the confidence to wear my favourite pair of jeans.

As you’ve probably guessed, the pair of jeans itself wasn’t the root of the problem (they were pretty damn cool) – it was my newfound insecurity that seemed, at the time, to be out of the blue.

(Totally predictable in hindsight) plot twist: I felt insecure about my body because I’d been repeatedly told I should be in a range of creative and cutting comments by one of my closest friends at the time, who would constantly do everything she could do bring up my body weight in front of people to make them laugh at me for being ‘too skinny’.

Now, I am 100% one for roasting (as the kids say) my close friends to prove my love for them, but these comments were not made in an affectionate manner and nor were we laughing together – they were made with the intention to belittle me to boost her own ego.

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Regularly I was ridiculed for ‘not being able to’ wear that dress or this top. I had a party at my house in my final year of school it was so exciting, in fact, that the aforementioned pair of jeans had been bought for the occasion. Invited was my large group of friends and, as the room was filling with guests, I offered to make drinks. As I stood up to pour glasses – lo and behold – my ‘best friend’ barked across the room, ‘Do you purposely buy jeans that you can’t fill?’ The room fell silent with giggles that say I’m living for this drama. She continued, laughing, saying ‘I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just asking. Like, they’re clearly meant for women with actual curves.’ Everyone laughed and I joined in because the fact is that as an arts student if you get upset about anything you’re branded a ‘drama queen’; so as usual, I played along.

Repeatedly fake-laughing at a joke that makes you feel insecure about things you’d never even considered before isn’t much fun, trust me.

Having concluded from a continuous range of exchanges (this was school – we’d hang out every single day), I came to the conclusion that my body simply wasn’t what it should be.

Naturally, I came up with a plan.

I began eating multiple packets of chocolate biscuits, crisps, and anything I could find that I knew was unhealthy every day (sometimes before) and after school. Bread was a particular favourite. I found myself obsessively checking my body every time I got showered and dressed in the morning in the hope that I’d put on enough weight to have bigger boobs or a bigger bum (turns out it doesn’t work like that).

As my (completely unproductive, 0/10 would not recommend) plan continued, so too did the comments. Finally I did what I should have done much earlier contacted her directly, explaining I’d been hurt by her words and asked for these jokes to stop.

[Obviously this wasn’t the only aspect of the friendship that was unhealthy but it was definitely the one that has affected me most in the long-term, in terms of self confidence.]

This is the point at which you decide whether or not the friendship is worth continuing. If your friend apologises and stops hurting you, you have the chance to work together to rebuild what you had before things got ugly. If not, and they continue to belittle you at every opportunity, you have to get out.

As you have probably gathered, I experienced the latter.

No friendship is worth losing your self esteem over.

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My Tips

If you think you might be in a toxic friendship, or you have found yourself in one, here are my top tips for resolving/escaping the situation:

– make an honest list of the times that your friend has hurt you (feel free to add therapeutic angry doodles)
– make an honest list of the pros and cons of your friendship
– consider what you get out of your friendship, and what they get out of your friendship – is it equal? Do they laugh at you more often than they laugh with you? Is there an imbalance in terms of day-to-day respect?

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PLAN A: Resolving the Situation
Ask them if you can speak to them about your friendship in person (if you don’t feel this is what you’re most comfortable with, it’s okay to do it over the phone or even by letter – the most important thing here is that you’re doing what’s best for you)
1. Ask how they feel about your friendship at the moment
2. Explain how you’re feeling about your friendship
3. Make clear that you care about the friendship, which is why you felt it important enough to talk through
4. Explain to them what they could do moving forwards to rebuild your friendship
5. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to fix the friendship from their point of view
6. Make a plan for in a couple of days’ time to do something together that you always enjoy – go for a walk to your favourite area, visit your favourite cafe together, etc.

PLAN B: Escaping the Situation
If you were unsuccessful in resolving the situation and they did not reciprocate your determination to fix your friendship, you are likely keen to end the friendship.
1. Make your boundaries clear
2. Limit contact
3. Disconnect on social media
4. Speak to friends you trust (ideally those furthest from the situation) at times when you might feel guilty (even though you made the best decision for you) or simply to vent about how proud you are that you’ve moved on!
5. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good about yourself and notice how this affects your mental wellbeing and self confidence – you deserve it!
6. Treat yourself from time to time as a reminder of your strength to cut ties with those who influence you negatively in order to live your best life.

I hope you found this post helpful – please remember that if you’re in a position like the one I was in, you deserve so, so much better. I’m very proud to say that I now regularly wear the sh*t out of those jeans.

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19 Comments

  1. June 7, 2018 / 11:23 PM

    Wow, this is such a beautiful post! I was also in a toxic friendship, and it was very hard to let go of. I found this post very helpful, I also wrote a post about my experience with a toxic friendship if you ever want to check it out. Thank you for sharing your experience, i’m so glad you saw that you deserve better and that you rock the shit out of those jeans!!
    -Michelle|simplymich.com

    • June 10, 2018 / 6:22 PM

      Hey Michelle, thank you so much for such a kind comment- I’ll check out your post now! Aww thank you- you know it girl! X

  2. June 6, 2018 / 12:24 AM

    Bless you for validating how I am “Friendship-ing” 🙂 now. Never thought of your suggestion “Treat yourself from time to time as a reminder of your strength to cut ties with those who influence you negatively in order to live your best life.” I am subscribing to your blog. I like reading what you have to say!!!

  3. June 3, 2018 / 3:26 PM

    This was such a good read and it’s just sad that sometimes these things don’t just end with school. No matter what age you are, you can find yourself in a toxic friendship. Thanks for writing this Mx
    http://www.saychelles.com

    • June 3, 2018 / 6:46 PM

      Thank you for such a lovely comment Michelle- have a lovely week x

  4. May 31, 2018 / 2:03 AM

    It’s hard to say goodbye to a friend if you’ve been together for years. However, if the relationship turns toxic, I agree that it’s best to let go.
    Treat yourself from time to time as a reminder of your strength – I love this advice. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • May 31, 2018 / 6:22 AM

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment- I’m so glad you like it! Have a lovely weekend! X

  5. May 30, 2018 / 2:21 PM

    Great post.. and site! I have definitely had my share of toxic friendships. Now that i’m approaching 30, I no longer feel the need to stay with friends with people who just bring you down. I’m glad you found your way, too.
    Brittany

    • May 30, 2018 / 11:46 PM

      Hey Brittany, thank you so much! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog and I’m so happy to hear you’ve got your friendships sorted now- it definitely makes a difference and proves to you how much you’re actually worth! X

  6. May 30, 2018 / 1:48 PM

    Firstly, I am sorry to hear what all you went through but trust me you are so brave, you defeated your insecurities. You are an awesome person.
    All have insecurities, toxic friendships but it is courageous to speak about them and let others know and learn from your experiences. You are a winner in my eyes, I believe “The one who discovers oneself is the winner”. After so much of tolerance you have discovered the real you, who is unaffected by the world’s shitty comments.
    This post is surely gonna help all its readers.
    I am glad I know you. Lots of love and best wishes for an amazing future ahead 🙂

    Aditi | http://www.winlifewinlove.com

    • May 30, 2018 / 11:45 PM

      Hey Aditi, thank you so much for such a lovely comment- I really appreciate your kind words and I love that quotation! Sending you so much love and good vibes x

  7. May 28, 2018 / 9:28 AM

    This is such a great post! I have. Been in a number of toxic relationship’s over the year’s (one throughout out most of my school life which has sparked a lot of my social anxiety) and one that I have only just gotten away from. These are such good tips and advice from someone in that situation!
    I’m sorry to hear that is something you went through, I hope you’ve now surrounded yourself with wonderful people.
    Menna x

    • May 28, 2018 / 11:10 AM

      Hey Menna, thank you for such a kind comment! I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through multiple toxic relationships- you’re doing so incredibly well to get away from them, because that takes a lot of courage!
      I have got the most wonderful friends now, and I hope you have the same. Nati x

      • May 28, 2018 / 12:14 PM

        I’m glad to hear that! I’m trying my best to, getting their slowly. I know some wonderful people now. My experience in school left me with little trust in people so I find it hard to let people in. But I’m getting there. I’ve made the same mistakes a few times but I’ll find the right people! I have faith.
        Menna

  8. May 27, 2018 / 7:30 PM

    This is such a great post .Unfortunately I have been in this situation. My former best friend became incredibly angry with me because I forgot her birthday while I was going through chemotherapy for cancer. I had never forgotten it before and I felt terrible. She simply would not let it go and made jokes about my “playing the cancer card,” as though ANYONE wants to play that game. I finally cut her off. Several years passed and she called to apologize. I made the mistake of letting her back in only to find myself in another toxic situation later. If someone makes you feel badly about yourself for any reason in a deliberate and continual basis, cut the cord and burn the remnants. A true friend will never body-shame, cancer-shame or any-shame you. I love everything about this post!

    • May 27, 2018 / 8:53 PM

      Hey Andrea, thank you for your comment- I’m so glad you like the post so much! Oh love I’m so sorry to hear you went through that- please remind yourself regularly that you’re incredibly strong and you deserve the best. X

  9. ruthinrevolt
    May 27, 2018 / 7:15 PM

    Sorry to hear you had this experience! You’ve given some great advice here, though, and I’m sure it will help others who find themselves in the same situation.

    There are plenty of great people who would be delighted to be friends with someone as lovely as you, I have no doubt, so I’m glad you’re not stuck with someone who doesn’t appreciate you.

    Ruth | http://www.ruthinrevolt.com

    • May 27, 2018 / 8:51 PM

      Hey Ruth, thank you so much for such a lovely comment, I’m so glad you like the post and thank you for your kind words! Hope you’re having a wonderful bank holiday weekend!

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