Why it may be important to cut someone loose
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Throughout my many years rotating around the sun, I will admit I may have gained some experience in the realm of toxic friendships. I may have also been that toxic friend at one point or another. However, as someone who is as socially awkward as a wet cat, I also understand the need to hang onto the bonds you have formed. I can tell you now that it is not worth it. Valuing a friendship that is ultimately harmful to you is devaluing yourself.
If you haven’t experienced or identified a toxic friendship firsthand, I will lay it out for you. Friendship is a relationship, similar to the bond with a significant other. If you were in a romantic relationship with someone who constantly belittled you, took advantage of you, verbally abused you, or consistently did things to hurt your feelings or embarrass you—you’d probably think twice about being with them. At least, I hope you would. Friendships are the same. You don’t want to be surrounding yourself with people who don’t seem to care about your well-being. That is not friendship, that is parasitic.
When you’re in the moment though, I understand it can be hard to let go. For a number of years, I had someone who I claimed was my best friend. She was caught fellating a man at one of my work functions, but I forgave her. She slept with my boyfriend of the time on three separate occasions, but I forgave her—I solely blamed him and held him completely responsible for what had occurred. This was wrong of me. Not to say he wasn’t a shitty person—just in retrospect, they both were. I found that towards the later years of our friendship, I was constantly making excuses for her, which included making excuses to myself.
Eventually she stopped talking to me. She moved on and so did I. At first, I asked what was wrong with me that she didn’t want to stay friends. After everything I had done and all of the secrets I had kept—why was I the one left behind? Finally, I began asking myself the right question. Why wasn’t I the one who walked away? The answer: A friendship spanning years, including your adolescent ones, can be difficult to let go. However, a fun trick you can try is to look at the person you are friends with and disassociate them from any personal connection you may have. From an objective viewpoint, would you still consider them a good person?
If the answer is no, then you’ve pretty much discovered if they’re toxic to you or not. Notice how I said “to you.” This is because toxic people are sometimes not universally negative. For me, I know that I have been in relationships in the past where I wasn’t as emotionally invested as the other person. This one-sidedness is also a form of toxicity—and not working to rectify that is my own fault. Instead I ended up ignoring people when I should have probably listened to them, to offer the same emotional support they would have extended to me.
Stumbling through the mess that is human engagement can be difficult. Ridding yourself of toxic people or bad influences is just one of the first steps to making it a little easier. Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is a good way to boost your self-esteem—and we all need a little of that.