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Saying Goodbye to Unhealthy Friendships

Do you stay in friendships that are long past their due date? Many of us cling to old friendships, no matter how toxic or negative they are, when the healthiest thing for everyone involved would be to let them go and move on.

Friendships are built over time and we put effort into them. Sometimes it’s harder to “break up” with a friend that you’ve had for years, than it is to leave a partner or marriage. If you find that you don’t feel good when you are around a certain person, then it might be time to take a good hard look at what’s happening with the relationship.

There can be many reasons why we let a friendship go, and most of the time they aren’t very sinister. Friends might drift apart because they no longer have common interests, or their needs have changed. Sometimes we take a “leave of absence” in these situations, and the friendship might rekindle later. Sometimes the break becomes permanent.

Occasionally the reasons are decidedly less vague. A friendship may turn hypercritical, or there can be a lot of conflict. One person may be negative, complain constantly, or be too needy. I had a friend who constantly dumped her problems on me, then was nowhere to be found when I had a crisis. This happened for years, until I finally had enough.

It’s important to ask yourself if you are being honored and respected in the relationship. If your friend is simply going through a rough time and it’s a temporary thing, then sticking it out is usually the right choice. Friendships are like teeter-totters; one person might be down and the other one is up, then vice versa. A healthy friendship is a balanced one, with give and take happening.

When the behavior becomes a pattern, you may want to consider saying goodbye to the relationship. If you stick around in the hopes that the person will change, think about the damage that might be happening while you wait. A study done at UCLA showed that physical problems can happen when someone is around a difficult person too often. Study participants who reported negative experiences with friends and acquaintances had an increase in protein levels that are related to inflammation.

The researchers also found three types of friendships that are the worst culprits; friends who are competitive with you, friends who pick fights, and friends who demand too much of your attention.

If you aren’t feeling honored or respected in the friendship, or you don’t bring out the best in each other, then let the relationship go. You deserve friends that are supportive, loving, kind, and can see how amazing you are, even when you can’t.

Barbara Buck is a Reconnective Healing Practitioner, writer, and teacher in Phoenix, AZ. For more information, please visit her website


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