6 Signs It’s Time to Let Go of an Unhealthy Friendship

When you know that a friendship is unhealthy, you’re faced with a few choices. You can try to set boundaries and change the dynamic. You can focus on accepting your friend and practice more gratitude for what they add to your life. But in some cases, a friendship may feel so unhealthy or toxic that it’s no longer serving you. At that point, it may be time to consider letting that friend go.

Here are some clear signs it’s time to end a friendship.

They Won’t Respect Your Boundaries

Boundaries are important in every healthy relationship. Not all boundaries are expressed verbally, but, over time, friends tend to understand what their friends need from them. There’s a shared reciprocity of respect.

In a healthy friendship, a friend accepts your limits and apologizes if they make a mistake. In that same vein, staying friends with someone who explicitly disregards your boundaries can be incredibly problematic. It can also be a form of friendship betrayal.

You may find yourself constantly giving in to their demands or hiding parts of yourself to appease the relationship. It’s no secret that these dynamics tend to lead to resentment, which can erode your own mental health.

You Can’t Identify Any Positive Reason Why You’re Still Friends

If you allow yourself to truly reflect on what this friendship adds to your life, what answer do you come up with? Every friendship offers different values, but, in any healthy friendship, you can easily identify the benefits of the relationship. You know what each person brings to your inner world.

Why are you still friends with this person? Maybe you feel obligated to stay in touch. Or, perhaps, you two have been friends for so long that you now feel guilty changing the dynamic. But be honest with yourself- is this how you want to truly spend your time? By saying yes to this dynamic, what are you also saying no to?

They Bully You

Unfortunately, bullying can happen in friendships, even though it’s often easy for people to dismiss. Bullying can be insidious, but it can come in the form of:

  • Verbal abuse: This type of abuse includes calling you names or insulting you- even if it’s disguised as humor or “just having fun.” If your friend ignores your hurt feelings, that’s an even clearer sign of abuse.
  • Controlling behaviors: Friends can get jealous or possessive, and that can sometimes result in trying to isolate you from others or control certain choices. These intentions may be explicit or implicit depending on the relationship.
  • Continuous criticism: It’s a red flag if your friend constantly criticizes you. Keep in mind that some people will defend this by simply saying, “I’m just being honest!’ But being honest is no excuse for being mean. In a true friendship, when someone needs to address a problem, they do so respectfully and compassionately.

You Continue Feeling Emotionally Drained

There’s no doubt that healthy friendships are good for the soul. When it’s a positive relationship, you enjoy spending time together, and there’s a mutual sense of kindness and healthy communication. You respect each other’s personal space while also staying close and connected.

A toxic friend, however, tends to feel emotionally draining. Every conversation may feel one-sided, and you often leave the situation feeling worse. You may even find yourself lying to them to avoid spending time together.

Their Unhealthy Habits Affect How Your Relationship

Do you find yourself acting in ways you normally wouldn’t when you spend time with this friend? Do they pressure you into doing things that make you feel uncomfortable? Do you swap out your healthier coping skills for more unhealthy ones when you spend time together?

In a healthy friendship, people inspire one another to be the best versions of themselves. But in more problematic dynamics, a toxic friend might undermine someone else’s success or happiness. If they’re struggling in their own life, they might project that discomfort onto others.

Of course, you are your own person, and you’re responsible for making good decisions ln life. But if you continuously find yourself renegotiating your morals or behaviors, this person just might not be the best influence for you.

None of Your Other Friends Like This Friend

Of course, not all friendships are weighted equally. But it’s a red flag if your other good friends actively dislike this particular person.

They might see the negative impact this friendship has on your well-being. Or, they might simply find that person’s energy too negative, unhealthy, or otherwise uncomfortable.

This is not about shaming or placing blame on someone else. But if you continue finding yourself apologizing for your friend’s behavior or only feeling comfortable spending time with them alone, that’s a clear sign something is off.

How Therapy Can Support You If You’re Ending a Friendship

Deciding to end a friendship can be painful and confusing. Unlike a romantic relationship, there also aren’t many mainstream conversations about breaking up with a good friend.

It’s normal to feel sad at the idea of cutting ties or ending a friendship. No matter what you decide to do, therapy provides a safe space to explore your feelings and help you heal.

Relationships should add value to your life, and you deserve to spend time with people who deeply care about you. If you’re struggling, I am here to provide you with support and guidance. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

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Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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