Social Spring Cleaning

Friends are supposed to lift you up and make you feel better, not tear you down. Toxic friends are hard to spot due to the intense closeness you feel with them, blinding you to certain problems. Below, I have made a few general categories of toxic people and explained their behaviors and how to make leaving easier.

The Manipulator

This is someone who either consciously or unconsciously manipulates how you feel for their own good. They generally guilt you for not doing what they want when they want and turn the blame around on you. Additionally, they might peer pressure you to do things you are uncomfortable with. Emotional boundaries are very hard to maintain with this sort of friend. They could trick you into thinking you are needed, but never show you that you are wanted. This genre of emotionally abusive behavior likely drains you and doesn’t bring happiness into your life. It is time to accept that you need to spend your time on other more positive people into your life.

The Degrader

Having confidence and being aware of strengths generally isn’t a bad thing that makes someone a bad person. However, if your friend feels entitled to habitually make unconstructive negative comments without prompting, it is highly unlikely they genuinely care about you or anything aside from themselves. Like with manipulators, emotional boundaries are difficult to keep. You may find yourself seeking their validation and falling into a cycle of changing who you are for someone who doesn’t matter. You absolutely do not need someone in your life who minimizes your achievements and strengths to make them feel better. It is important to remember that they are likely just projecting their own insecurities on you. If your friend spends more time tearing you down than building you up, you need to ask yourself if it is worth it.

The Gossiper

We all know someone who can’t talk about ANYTHING else than gossip happening around them. Sometimes, it is fun to listen and hear about the dumb things people do over the weekend. You might feel close to them and believe they are trustworthy. However, be advised. People who talk about others behind their back will probably do the same to you. It is unlikely you will be the exception to their poor behavior. You might want to take inventory on your friendship and determine if they are actually good friends.

The Excuse Maker

Everyone has flaws or bad habits. There is no such thing as a “perfect person” that makes a “perfect friend”. However, there is a difference between having flaws and blaming others for flaws. Being unwilling to take responsibility for rudeness or grow from mistakes isn’t the healthiest thing to be around. If their irresponsibility or rude behavior is causing you distress or frustration, it is time to let go.

The Flake

College is an extremely busy time. Many DU students are deeply involved in student organizations or Greek life on top of school. Sometimes, people will have to bail on plans last minute and that is okay. What isn’t okay is habitually not showing up without any warning or making no effort to make it up to you or simply apologize. When someone is consistently flaky, you need to decide if it is because they don’t care or if they are just busy.

Platonic breakups can be harder than romantic breakups. Saying goodbye to any of these friends can be tricky and cause distress. You may feel alone or fearful that you will not be able to move forward. There are some ways to lessen the discomfort of disconnecting yourself from a toxic person.

Talk to the friend.

Bring up your concerns and explain your side of things. It is not a guarantee talking will always cause the necessary change, so be prepared to break things off if they refuse to make an effort or guilt you for asking them to stop certain behaviors. However, ensuring you have explained your side and understand both may make you more confident about your necessary course of action.

Create some distance.

While considering if you want this friendship to continue, take some space to clear your head. It can be very stressful to remove toxic people that you are close to. Check in with yourself to make sure you are maintaining proper self care throughout this time.

Take Inventory.

Think about or write out all of the pros and cons of your friendship. Being confident in what you want will lessen any potential guilt about leaving them in your past. If you need to continue to take some time away from the friend, do not be afraid to.

Get Outside Support.

Find someone who is unbiased that you trust and ask for help. This could be a parent, therapist, RA, older classmate, or someone from home. Asking someone who is detached from the situation will give you a different perspective may help you figure out the best way to move forward.

Explain to the Former Friend.

No friendship is one size fits all. Generally, it is better to explain the reason things are ending in person. The exception to this rule is if you know the person is known for emotional manipulation or you are worried for your physical safety, you should use technology. NOTE: If the person you cut off ties with threatens to hurt themselves or others, do not be afraid to get the proper authorities involved.

Formally Cut All Ties.

It is recommended to purge your social media and remove photos of them. Separation can make you romanticize the good and minimize the bad. Limiting your exposure to them while healing will make for a cleaner break.

Seek Support

Platonic breakups are super hard! Don't feel weak if you need support during this time!

I hope this helps with some social spring cleaning! Friendship should be a mutual relationship that inspires both of you to be the best version of yourself and support each other's growth. You are worthy and capable of finding good friends that are positive influences.