For some people, ending a friendship or relationship is an easy thing to do. They have somehow rationally come to the conclusion that there is nothing good coming from these relationships for them in them. They are therefore, able to walk away cleanly, without regret and without hesitation. However, for most others, ending any type of a relationship, be it a love interest or a friendship, the lines are not quite so clearly drawn. The question is, how does one know when to "let go" of one?
Over the past couple of years, I've ever so slowly come to recognize that a number of people in my life were becoming what I like to call, "toxic" to my wellbeing. Yet, I clung onto these relationships and, or friendships in spite of that fact. The real reason I did so was because I didn't fully recognize just how very damaging these people were to my own mental, emotional and thereby, physical health. I kept rationalizing that I was looking upon them in a wrong manner. As though there was something the matter with me for not liking what I was feeling about them. Truth was, I had reason to feel that way and should have listened to myself and my own gut reactions.
Recently, I came to start feeling a sense of "dread" whenever I had any interaction with a "friend" (I'll use the term loosely here) but, wasn't paying much attention to that feeling. I'd shrug it off as being me, being stressed out, overly busy, tired and a whole realm of other reasons to do with me, personally as the cause for that uncomfortable feeling. Afterall, this is someone who had been a "friend" for over two decades! It couldn't be them. It had to be me. So, I continued to endure these uncomfortable feelings, blaming them on myself and my own perhaps, overwhelmed feelings through stresses.
It wasn't until a very recent incident that the true reasons why I was feeling this way, came to hit me in the face like a cold bucket of water and woke me up to reality. Truth is, this person was never really ever a friend, they were a "user". By that, I mean that this person took and rarely gave back unless it was to suit their own purpose or simply to give enough to keep me on the hook to continue suiting their own very selfish needs. I suddenly felt a sense of relief because I was able to recognize that my feelings of dread in any contact with this person was totally justified, correct and not at all to do with my own inner "issues".
Relationships of all kinds, often go through stages where there are inevitably going to be "clashes", disagreements, hurts, anger, saddness and even hate for periods of time. The real difference between "normal" and "wrong" is when these emotions are there on a more or less steady basis. That is when a closer examination of the relationship needs to take place within yourself, first and foremost.
The first thing to look at is your own feelings. What do you feel when you are around that person? Does being around that person make you feel good and lift your emotions for the most part or, do you feel somewhat "drained" being around them?
If you answered that you feel more negative after an encounter with this person more often than not then, you have something that truly needs to be delved into further.
Try answering these "yes or no" questions then, tally your score at the end.
1) When I'm around this person, I feel negative and drained for the most part.
2) Our relationship/friendship is a one way street. I do most of the giving and feel that I cannot ask for anything in return or, at least not much.
3) This person doesn't seem to respect my time and feels free to take up my time on a regular basis with their problems or, simply take up my time because they are bored, no matter what else is going on in my life.
4) I don't feel free to talk about myself and my problems as much as I listen to their problems. He/she usually hogs the entire conversation, talking about themselves or, will turn off their attention and divert the conversation right back to them. I can't depend on this person for much support for myself in all reality. They simply are not "there" for the most part for me in return.
5) When this person asks for my opinion, I give it, and they proceed to make me feel responsible to help them solve their problems for them or harp on their problems solely on a regular basis.
6) They never seem to "run out of problems"! Their lives are always one big drama or crisis after another and I somehow seem to get dragged into it with them.
7) There's never an end to "favors" that they want me to do for them!
8) I oftentimes feel like I'm walking a tight rope when around this person. Nothing seems to ever truly please them.
9) This person seems to always have something or someone to complain about or, some story about how someone else, including myself, has done them wrong.
10) I rarely hear this person say that they like someone. All that I hear are the negative attributes of pretty much everyone around them.
11) I feel "off", down, depressed, negative or, just plain, out and out miserable after spending time with this person more often than not.
12) I'm bored to tears with the same conversations with this person all of the time. Or, they ask for my opinion, I give it, then they proceed to do the same things over and over again and I have to continually hear the same complaints all over again and never solve their dilema. It seems that they thrive on being miserable.
13) I find myself feeling angry quite often but, don't know why, when I'm around or talk to this person.
14) When the phone rings or the doorbell goes, I find myself hiding behind blinds or checking call display because I'm afraid that it's them!
15) I've actually let my voicemail pick up the calls or, pretended not to be home when I've known it's them on occassion because I couldn't bear another moment with them at that point even though I might feel guilty afterwards.
16) My stomach sometimes "knots up" at the thought of any contact from them and I feel guilty for feeling that way.
17) When they can't reach me at home or the office, they will start calling work, or my cell phone until they track me down, leaving messages that it's "urgent" that I call them back. When I drop everything to call them back, including while doing my grocery shopping, I find out that it's to tell me something insignificant....something that could have waited for the next time that I spoke to them or saw them.
18) Almost EVERYTHING that happens to them in their day, even the small things, are talked about infinitely, even though they are minor or, have happened many times before. It's a repeating pattern.
19) In looking back and being honest with myself, I now recognize that I've used the words "selfish" and "self-centered" in describing this person to myself or others. YIKES!
20) I've found myself wondering WHY I've keep this person in my life many times...not just when I'm angry at them or, I find myself feeling angry at them quite often.
Tally your "Yes" answers to the above questions and read below.
1 to 3 YES answers....Well, everyone has their problems. No one is perfect. However, you may want to go back over these "yes" answered questions and talk over the issues that have created those feelings or situations. It'll improve your friendship/relationship.
3 to 10 YES answers....You really might want to ask yourself what it is that you're truly doing in this friendship/relationship. There is a lot of negativity associated with this person and they are likely not a good influence in your life. It may not be a healthy relationship for you. Go back over those "Yes" answers and see if it's bringing you more bad than good. If the answer is a yes to that, you may want to consider the next score rating answer.
10 to 20 YES answers...This friendship/relationship is not at all a positive or healthy one! It is likely doing more harm than good to your own wellbeing. It is time that you truly looked at what it is that is causing you to stay in this friendship/relationship. Is it guilt? Is it their "needyness" and you feel that you cannot hurt them by dropping the relationship? Whatever the reason you are still keeping this person in your life, you truly need to re-evaluate those reasons because this person may be manipulating you in an unhealthy and destructive way.
I, myself have recognized that I was being "manipulated" through guilt and this person's "needyness" and have decided that I no longer need nor, want that type of negative influence in my life. And, oddly enough, once I saw this with one person, I recognized it in two others as well. Both are being dropped from my life now because they are unhealthy to my own wellbeing in all ways.
There are literally several billion people on this planet. There is no need to stay stuck in a friendship/relationship that is "toxic". You'll never truly be alone. Why stay? You're only keeping yourself stuck in a negative situation which MAY prevent you from meeting others who will bring fun, laughter, happiness and most of all, TRUE FRIENDSHIP into your life!
Remember: Strangers are simply potential friends we've yet to meet!