Toxic relationships: It’s not just those you date

This isn’t my usual post. 

Usually I’m all things lovely and beautiful but sometimes life just isn’t. Deep eh?

I had this idea after I dealt with an incredibly toxic friend these last few years, as well as watch a few people close to me be in toxic relationships over the years. 

We’ve all (probably yet unfortunately) known a friend who is (or hopefully was) dating someone that was just not good for them. You can see it, your friends can see it, but the person in the relationship simply can’t. They are stuck in that fairytale bubble thinking that everything is fine or will be fine.

That bubble doesn’t only exist when you’re dating.

It can very much exist in friendships, if that’s what you call them, too. 

Over the years I’ve been lucky that I haven’t dealt with too much toxicity with my friendships. A few girls in high school, and that was really it until college, which I attended after university. 

It began in first year and I was very much in the bubble and in the state of thinking that people can change and maybe I’m overthinking. When it became obvious this wasn’t the case, I pulled back and we grew apart for about a year. Enter second year, second semester, where we grew close again and I thought it was all dandy. By this year, the final year, it became very obvious that change had not happened and I was in the elusive and often overlooked toxic friendship. 

There were clauses (fancy word, I know) that forced me to stay stuck in this position until the end of the semester and I can say that this past year has been exhausting. If it wasn’t for the help of fellow classmates, and even a few teachers who (like most adults, they could tell something was wrong before I brought it up) I wouldn’t have been successful in my final year. 

How You Know

This year a lot has happened for me, in the business world and in the personal one. 

I had my first relationship, started blogging with a company I really love, figured out what I wanted to do, got the positions I wanted at school for the different publications and even became a brand ambassador.

The majority of this happened in one semester and it was a lot to handle, and I received no support from her. 

Your ‘best friend’ is supposed to support you, cheer you on, help you figure things out and this person was none of that. She discouraged me from accepting new roles, would get angry if I was applying to the same role as her and was overall a negative energy the entire semester. 

Here’s when it really clicked for me: I realized that I wasn’t celebrating the good things that were happening in my life. I was playing them off as no big deal or just not talking about them whatsoever. After I cut her out of my life I felt like it was okay to be excited about the good things again, and that’s not a feeling you should have when in a friendship. 

Don’t Feel Guilty 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s okay to be selfish, especially when it comes to your self-care. I got asked quite a few times if I felt bad and I still can honestly say no. I am a tolerant person, or sometimes too tolerant, and it got to be too much. 

I didn’t have to send a message to her but I felt like I needed to, out of courtesy but also for myself. I made sure it was honest (brutally so) but worded it so that once it was screenshot and spread around, and yes that’s happened, I wouldn’t be in danger of it coming back to haunt me. I do know that it shocked her, which surprises me only because I’ve known it was coming since winter, but I also know she sees nothing wrong with her actions. 

This doesn’t cause me to feel guilt though, just pity. 

My thinking is this: If you feel like the person is dragging you down or even making you feel bad about yourself just a little bit, you totally have the right to reconsider the friendship! You control who you’re friends with, and honestly it’s exhausting to put time and energy into a relationship that makes you feel like you have to limit what you have going on. 

Put you first.

Not all the time of course, but when it comes to deciding who is in your life? Certainly think of yourself. 

Move On 

While I mean mentally, I did it literally as well. 

The first night alone in my apartment after I moved out early I felt the relief. It’s more like I felt at ease, like I could go about my work without feeling like I needed to tone it down for her benefit. 

The moment I cut it off I felt like relief hit me like a wave. I had friends with me at the time and they helped me push to do it, and realize that it had to be done. I described the feeling as when a balloon gets all the air let out of it. You know, when it zips around the room making those funny sounds? That was me! I was that balloon. 

I’m sure that would be a difference between being in a toxic relationship versus a friendship. It was incredibly easy for me to cut ties because there were no other feelings involved, but I know it can be more complicated when you’re dating. I have never been in that position, but from what I’ve seen and heard I know it’s not as easy as deleting them off social media and calling it a day. I can’t stress enough how important that is, if you truly want to leave that person behind you. 

But not everyone is the same and I know that it would be different for anyone.

I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends, both in the industry and beyond. My cousin (soul mate, and other half) lives in the same city as me, I text my best friend back home constantly and my close friends from school are, for the most part, nearby. 

The summer ahead of me is set to be the most exciting yet! New jobs, friends, even a new city! And I’m content knowing I’ll be sharing it with those who are truly there for me (and the internet), instead of second guessing every move I make.

(I use these little sidenotes a lot, it makes it feel like I’m talking to a person rather than a computer page and makes it easier, fun fact for the day)

1 Comment

  1. August 21, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    This is so powerful and true. I had to pull myself out of a toxic romantic relationship in college and it was hard and ugly but ultimately freeing. So I understand how you’re feeling now. I wish you happiness and success in all these opportunities you’ve earned!

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