Friendship is something we all need. Someone to confide in. Someone you can trust. Someone you know will be there for you in the best times and the worst. But sometimes we keep relationships that actually harm us instead of help us. Moving on from these toxic relationships can be very difficult, whether platonic or romantic, but there are times when letting go is the best thing for everyone involved. Research shows that unhappy friendships can be bad for your health, facilitating high blood pressure and even heart problems!
Sometimes it’s obvious that the relationship is troubled, but other times it could simply be that you’ve outgrown each other, or your values have shifted and you no longer have anything in common. Not every friendship is meant to last forever, and it can be hard to know when and how to let go. Of course we are grateful for all the relationships that have touched our lives, but sometimes taking the advice of your higher self is the best route and moving on is the way to go.
So here are five signs it’s time to say farewell to a friend:
1) There are more negative interactions than positive interactions.
Does your friend support your dreams, or do you ever notice that they are subtly sabotaging your enthusiasm? Do they prefer to gossip about others (and you must know if they gossip about others, they’re probably gossiping about you) rather than discuss goals or ideas? As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” If any of these are true, get out now!
2) The past has taken over the present.
If the main reason you’re holding on is because you have known each other half your lives but there’s little in common now, then it may be time to say goodbye. These can be the toughest relationships to sever, especially when there’s nothing outwardly toxic about it. And it’s hard to know how to let go of friendships that have so much history. But these kind of involvements can drag you down if you’re only staying because of guilt. Guilt is not a foundation on which to build and grow. Cherish the history, but turn the next page of your chapter!
3) Small things are bugging you.
This may not seem like much, but chances are if every little thing your friend does is getting on your nerves, then maybe you aren’t being your best self in the friendship. This can be bad for both parties, as it can ultimately lead to your friend feeling hurt and you not feeling good about yourself. Find a way to graciously bow out and get on with your life. One of the best ways to end a friendship that is harming you is to put all your focus on yourself. I say it all the time, but self-care is extremely important. Plus, if your’e going through a hard time with someone, focusing on yourself can take your mind off of the negative. Go on a solitaire hike, or go treat yourself to a new outfit, or even just sit back and relax in a nice warm bath. This provides time for reflection and time to focus on your own goals instead of worrying about someone else.
4) There’s jealousy and competition.
This would seem like a no-brainer but once patterns are ingrained, toxic relationships like this can become addictive and hard to notice. If you feel you are constantly one-upping each other, competing for attention from romantic prospects, or secretly (maybe not so secretly) hoping the other fails - then cut your losses and move on.
5) The relationship is one-sided.
If you’re always giving and never getting anything in return, that’s not the sign of true friendship. If your friend is always calling in times of crisis in their life but not sharing the good times, if you’re always playing therapist but the friend is nowhere to be found when you need someone, or if you just don’t feel good about yourself in this involvement, then it’s time to let go.
If any of these resonate or were on your list of relationship goals, then it’s time to start cleaning house - even if it feels unnatural or uncomfortable. In the long run, it will be better for you and you’ll be grateful that you opened the door for healthier, more fulfilling friendships to enter.
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Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.