Hey Argus readers—it’s Doe here. We’ve all been taught that friendships are not meant to end, but let’s talk about it. Friendships are often expected to be lifelong, unlike romantic breakups, where ending the attachment (and even cutting ties completely) is expected if things are not going well. But sometimes it’s better to leave a friendship if it is unhealthy, even if it started healthily. Whether both parties are aware of the toxicity in the relationship or not, it doesn’t benefit anyone to continue a toxic friendship. You decide if you want to discuss these issues with your toxic friend if you feel the relationship is worth saving. But consider this: if you communicated these issues to your friend, would they care enough to work with you to resolve them? Do they care about the relationship enough to listen openly? Do you care about it enough? If the answer is yes, I recommend sitting down to talk it through. It will be hard, but it will certainly make the relationship stronger.
Dill and I have never experienced a blip that was big enough to shake us, but we have had little things that frustrated us within our friendship. Although we both avoid confrontation like the plague, we have been working on addressing issues as they arise. While in the short term it can feel more comfortable to push these frustrations under the rug, this can result in under-the-surface resentment and an environment of toxicity. Because we value our friendship so much, it’s worth it to bear those minutes of discomfort to establish a healthy dynamic that benefits both of us. What is left after the conversation is not only a more harmonious friendship but also so much more space to listen and be heard. Knowing that your friend will communicate their concerns helps relieve any insecurities or doubts in the friendship, as you don’t have to constantly guess what’s going on inside their head.
On the flip side, I had a friend in high school with whom I needed to end our friendship, and it was fucking hard. But at the end of the day, it was for the best because the relationship was seriously affecting my mental health. My friend could not reflect upon her actions within our relationship, which was a major friendship red flag. It is important to have people in my life who treat me with respect and give me space to be seen and heard, even through difficult conversations, so I decided to put myself first and “break up” with her. Going forward, I know that if I bring up a concern with a friend and they are dismissive, then they do not care about me. That toxic friendship taught me a lot about the types of people I want in my life and what I will not put up with. I feel like I can spot unhealthy dynamics much more easily now.
Another red flag I look out for in friends is negative feelings around them—do they make me feel bad about myself? Does everything always feel competitive? Am I lonelier after I see them? Does spending time together feel like a chore? If any of these questions resonate with me, I take it as a sign to examine a bit further. This does not always mean that I end the friendship, but it does mean I reevaluate how central they are in my life.
Overall, I advocate for friendships to be viewed as romantic relationships. Think about your red flags in relationships: If you think, “I would break up with someone who treated me like that,” but you let your “friends” treat you that way, then that’s a clear sign that this friendship might need some adjusting or it’s time to walk away.
See you next time.
xoxo, Dill & Doe