Having a toxic friend can be incredibly draining and damaging, both mentally and emotionally. Setting healthy boundaries is an important step to take in order to protect yourself from their negative behaviours and ensure your own wellbeing.
It is normal to feel frustrated when dealing with someone who consistently exhibits unhealthy and destructive behaviours. This post will cover some tips on how to set healthy boundaries with a toxic friend and navigate this difficult situation.
Identify Your Boundaries
When defining your boundaries, it is important to be specific and assertive. Consider which topics or behaviours cause you distress, discomfort or pain, and then create boundaries around those.
For example, if you find your friend’s gossiping behaviour upsetting, tell them that you do not want them to talk about other people in a negative way in your presence.
If a certain topic of conversation triggers an emotional response, let them know that it is off-limits.
It is also essential to set limits on how much time you are willing to spend with the toxic friend – this way they will understand that their behaviour has consequences.
In addition to setting boundaries for yourself, don’t forget to listen to and respect any boundaries which the other person sets for themselves.
Be aware that when communicating boundaries and expectations with a toxic friend, there may be some tension at first as they adjust to the changes.
However, with patience and compassion on both sides, it is possible for relationships with toxic friends to become healthier and more respectful over time.
Communicate Your Boundaries
Once you have identified your boundaries, it is important to communicate them to your toxic friend in a clear and direct manner.
Begin by explaining what behaviour crosses the line for you and why, being sure to state your expectations firmly but calmly.
This can be daunting, however it is necessary in order to create healthy boundaries. In doing so, you are also conveying the seriousness of the situation – if they continue to cross those lines then there are consequences that should be taken into account.
The following are some tips to keep in mind when communicating with your toxic friend –
When dealing with a toxic friend, it’s important to be assertive. This means standing up for yourself and expressing your needs clearly. Toxic friends often try to take advantage of people who are passive or non-assertive.
Don’t Take Their Bait
Toxic friends often try to provoke a reaction from you by saying or doing things that they know will upset you.
It’s important not to take the bait and instead remain calm and collected. It will only give them more power over you if you let them see that they can get a rise out of you.
Keep an Emotional Distance
It’s important to keep your distance from a toxic friend emotionally. This means not sharing too much personal information with them.
It’s also important to maintain healthy relationships with other people so that you don’t become too isolated.
Don’t Enable Them
If a toxic friend is behaving badly, don’t enable their behaviour by making excuses for them or covering up for them.
This will only enable their bad behaviour and make it more difficult for them to change.
Be Honest With Them
If you’re honest with a toxic friend, they may not like what you have to say but it could be the wake-up call that they need in order to change their behaviour.
Tell them how their actions are affecting you and why you can no longer tolerate it.
Be Understanding But Firm
When communicating with a toxic friend it can be easy to become frustrated or overwhelmed by their behaviour but try to remain understanding yet firm in enforcing your boundaries.
Maintaining this balance of understanding and firmness can help foster an environment where mutual respect is achieved and maintained throughout the course of communication between both parties involved in this situation.
If your toxic friend continues to violate your boundaries, it is imperative that you enforce any consequences that were mentioned during the conversation when communicating the boundaries.
This could include limiting contact, or in extreme cases it could also involve ending the friendship.
You might feel uncomfortable enforcing boundaries, but if you do not it sends a message that their behaviour is acceptable, which ultimately allows their toxicity to continue unchecked.
Setting and communicating boundaries does take energy so it’s important to practice self-care amidst all this boundary setting within friendships so as not to become overburdened or exhausted from having to constantly remind someone of their limits within the relationship.
Evaluate your time and energy
When it comes to dealing with a toxic friend, it is important to evaluate how much of your time and energy you can afford to spend on the friendship.
As the saying goes, “time is precious”, so make sure you are using yours in a way that is beneficial for you and your mental health.
Take time for yourself
Taking breaks from the relationship can be vital for self-care when dealing with a toxic friend– take some time away from the situation and focus on doing things that make YOU happy!
Spend some quality alone time doing something special for yourself that brings joy into your life– watch movies, explore new hobbies or take up a creative project– anything that brings balance back into your life!
Find activities that help you relax such as listening to music, going for a walk in nature, reading a book or journaling about your feelings – anything that helps you stay connected with yourself and makes you feel good!
Remember: taking care of yourself is essential to getting through difficult times like this one.
A great way to practice self-care is by seeking support from people you trust and who offer positive influences in your life, such as friends or family members who you trust.
If you’ve tried everything else and nothing has worked, it may be time to seek professional help.
A therapist can help you deal with the emotional fallout from having a toxic friend and can provide guidance on how to best deal with the situation.
Time to Walk Away
In some cases, it’s important to recognize when a friendship is no longer beneficial or healthy and take steps to move away from it.
Toxic friendships can cause us undue stress, anxiety, and even depression. They can make us feel isolated, worn down, and taken advantage of.
Signs that a friendship might be toxic include: always feeling like you have to put in more effort than the other person; being taken for granted; feeling like your opinion doesn’t matter; harbouring resentment towards the other person; receiving frequent criticism or guilt-tripping; or feeling judged or looked down upon in the relationship.
If setting boundaries and reminding the other person that their behaviour won’t be tolerated fails to improve the situation, don’t feel obligated to stay in the friendship. It may be time for you to walk away.
This doesn’t mean that you need to end things on bad terms – but sometimes it’s best for both parties if things are brought to an amicable conclusion.
Remember that as difficult as it may seem at first, removing yourself from a toxic relationship can give you much needed freedom and space to focus on your physical and mental wellbeing.
Final Thoughts on Dealing with a Toxic Friend
Setting healthy boundaries with toxic friends can be hard. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to find the inner resolve to implement change in our lives.
But by gaining insight into knowing how these relationships are affecting us, and understanding that we have a right to self-care, we can make the decision to draw boundaries and protect ourselves emotionally.
Life is too short to waste away around people who make us feel drained and depleted. Our time is better spent around those who bring out our very best—the kind of people who show up with unconditional love, support, and appreciation; so that together we can create wonderful memories while living our most authentic lives.
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Carla Corelli is an author, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse. Having grown up with a narcissistic father, Carla experienced firsthand the profound impact of psychological and emotional abuse. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her articles, Carla aims to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
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