By Michele Salinas
When we think of moving on from a toxic relationship, we most often think in terms of a romantic relationship. But, from my experience, moving on from a toxic friendship can be just as disheartening, if not more, as moving on from a toxic lover. This last year has been a pitfall for just about all my friendships. But, ultimately by choosing to be selfish and putting myself above all else, I learned who was worth keeping close to my heart. I was in a friend group for a couple years that didn’t feel genuine. Everyone was focused on bettering themselves, but rarely uplifting one another. There was constant backstabbing and talking behind each other’s backs instead of confronting one another. Here I was talking behind my own “friends’” backs, and thinking this was how friends treat one another. I’m not sure if it was because all the girls were doing it that I felt comfortable being just as cruel as everyone else, but, as time went on, I knew this was not the kind of friend I wanted to be. Forming friendships with people outside of this friend group made me realize this isn’t how friendships work. I had that moment of realization when people around me started saying “friends don’t treat each other that way.” But, being so deep in the friendship, I felt stuck. I felt like I had to stick it through. I thought I had no other option but to put up with being mistreated. I often questioned why I was not actually being treated better, but I finally realized it was because I choose to settle for the way I’m treated. I allowed people I called my friends to walk all over me.
My greatest downfall has always been standing up for myself, being selfish, and choosing what’s best for me before comforting everyone else around me. I did not have the courage to put myself first. The friendships I lost were all because I chose to stand up for myself. I was over letting people take advantage of what I had to offer. Choosing to move on from a toxic situation can be overwhelming and so lonely, which makes you constantly ask: “Was this the right choice?” When I let go of my friend group, the first couple of weeks were isolating, and all I would do was wake up, go to class, hide in the library to get homework done, go home, and repeat. I’d be scared to run into these girls because I wasn’t sure whether to expect chuckles as they passed or snarky comments. It is difficult to let go of the good memories and the plans you made. You lose the people who know just about everything about you and the thought of having to start all over by opening up to new people without knowing their intentions is scary. But now that I’ve made new friends, I have found that people I’ve known for less than three years have more of my loyalty than those I’ve known for way longer than that simply because of the genuine relationship and the strength of the true friendship.
To all my selfless girls working through bad friendships, here are some tips that I learned in the process of ridding myself of toxic friends: Identify what you deserve in a friendship, and don’t settle for less
True friends are not selfish with one another, nor are they cruel to each other. Friends uplift, friends support, friends love. These were all qualities lacking in my friend group. Learn to balance being selfless and selfish. Make the effort to put yourself before anyone else and let go of those draining relationships that no longer serve a purpose. Choose yourself and see how much happier you’ll be! Don’t make excuses for bad friends
While being in a toxic situation and being selfless, it can be difficult to see through the toxicity. I found myself making excuses for the way I was being treated, which was a problem on its own. I felt like I had to push through it all because we were friends, and friends don’t give up on each other. But like past times had shown, making excuses for people who would just put you in the same position all over again was not worth working through. Shedding toxicity makes space for growth
After finally letting go of the toxicity that surrounded me, I grew into a new person. I applied to internships, I participated in clubs, I chose to be healthier, and I made new friends. The friendship was a life lesson that I’ll always appreciate because of where it led me. Even though at times it was lonely, these positive changes in my life were all things I never would have done if I was in the same place I was in last year. I’m still learning how to be a healthy amount of selfish, but so far choosing myself has been the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Have you ever “broken up” with a friend? How do you deal with bad friendships? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!