It’s easy to intellectualize why
It boils down to whether (overall) your friend brings a useful energy into your life, or whether, ultimately, you find them draining. The energy they bring, by the way, does not need to be uplifting or amusing. Perhaps they have a grounded or balanced energy which you benefit from. The key is to how you feel when (and after) you’re together.
Do you feel energized and excited? Do you have a smile across your face? Are you chuckling to yourself about your exchange?
Perhaps this friend is more reflective. Do you feel stretched and challenged in a useful way?
Do you feel you have grown as a person in some way thanks to qualities your friend has shared? Maybe they’ve taken you out of your comfort zone when it comes to how you approach a certain area of your life?
If any or all of the above continue to be true for you, this is not a friendship you should say goodbye to lightly. However, it’s quite possible that your friend stimulated, challenged, comforted or amused you in the past, but that this is no longer true.
If you no longer feel free to share what’s on your mind; If you no longer feel you are yourself when you’re with them; If you feel they have come to sap your strength and inner power – these are all signs that it may now be time to end or at least re-define your friendship.
- Does your friend see who you really are? Not who you once are or how your colleagues or acquaintances see you, but as you hope to be seen by those who know you?
- Do you trust your friend and do they trust you? Of course, you had each others’ backs when you met. But how about now?
- Are their values and life-choices aligned with yours? Perhaps you met when you were single and unemployed and now one of you has a family and the other has prioritized your career? None of this needs to be a problem, but if they challenge or undermine your choices, it could become one.
- Do you respect your friend and do they respect you?
Ultimately, the only meaningful question is whether your friendship enhances or subtracts from your experience of life. Do they add (or take away) that all important “spark of joy.”
Next time, I’ll be writing about how to end a toxic friendship in the most responsible and graceful way.
To read the piece I wrote about Toxic Friendships for Forbes
Remy Blumenfeld is a creative life coach living in London. He empowers leaders to play the game of life with purpose, grace and ease. Before training as coach, he launched a TV Production company which created dozens of ground breaking, TV shows.