Ever had a friendship that made you feel uncomfortable? Someone you stress about spending time with…but they aren’t actually abusive? How do you know when to end a friendship that’s unpleasant like this?
That’s the focus of this blog. I’ve talked lots about walking away from abusers in the past, but this situation is much more nuanced.
It’s about leaving someone who isn’t a bad or harmful person… we just don’t feel great in the friendship. Or someone who’s done a handful of problematic things, but not enough to make them a toxic friend.
If you’ve ever questioned when to end a friendship like this, keep on reading.
What Does an Unpleasant, but Not Abusive, Friendship Look Like?
A little over a year ago, I parted ways with a long term friend. This person, who I’ll call M, was a great friend throughout my school years and we stayed in touch as adults too. She was funny, we’d often talk for hours on the phone, and I’d confided a lot in her. M was also good friends with my fiancée and our other mutual friend—so we were a fun group of four that did almost everything together.
But, over the course of two years, some slightly uncomfortable things entered the friendship. She’d say vaguely transphobic things, like objectifying her trans girlfriend. (As a trans person myself, this made me quite uncomfortable).
When I told her about one of our old mutual friends being my abuser, she nodded along with my story. Then, she updated me on the sport scores of her favorite team—not even referencing the trauma I just shared with her. The only times she’d discuss what I went through was to update me on what this abuser was up to in life, even after I asked her not to mention this person. Talk about a trigger!
Every once in a while, she’d say something quite insensitive like “What happened to make you like this?” when talking about my dissociative identity disorder.
Over time, these situations added up and the friendship felt burdensome. She was no longer fun to hang out with. I kept expecting something hurtful to be said, some small boundary to be ignored, something to bug me each time we talked.
It became tiring, even though M wasn’t abusive. She just wasn’t someone I wanted as a friend anymore.
How to Know When to End a Friendship
You deserve amazing friends, not just okay ones.
This was something I realized while questioning when to end my friendship with M. We’re never obligated to keep someone we don’t love by our side. Even if they aren’t a bad person, we can always walk away if they’re not the right person for us.
This is so important to recognize.
You likely know you don’t want toxic or abusive people in your life. You want people who are nice, genuine, and good friends and partners.
But…many of us survivors still settle for okay relationships, because they are so much better than what we once had with our abusers. So we think, “This is great!” when it’s really just alright.
Let this blog remind you not to settle for okay. If someone is draining you emotionally, even if they’re not a harmful person, you have every right to walk away. In fact, you should walk away.
You have enough to fight with every day, like memories of trauma and PTSD symptoms. Why exhaust yourself more with a less-than-fulfilling friendship?
If you’re regularly dreading spending time with a friend, or you find yourself frustrated or hurt after speaking with them, walk away.
How to Leave a Less-Than-Ideal Friendship
So, ask yourself this: Who do I really want by my side? Is this friend that person? Does this friend bring something beautiful to my life, or do they take away from some beauty/joy I have?
Obviously, no friend will be perfect. There will be ups and downs, momentary problems that come up. But if you struggle to feel loving towards a person and you regularly experience frustration or fatigue at the idea of your friendship, it’s time to walk away.
This is how you know when to end a friendship. When you honestly ask yourself these questions, you’ll have your answer.
Feel free to leave a comment sharing a time you left a friendship that wasn’t great, and how much better that decision made your life. Or, if you’re struggling, post about your situation and myself and other survivors can help you through it! <3
Then, of course, share this blog. Everyone needs to know it’s okay to leave a less-than-ideal friendship.