It's Time to Let Go

The arrival of the new year often leads to the self-reflection of the new friends, hobbies, and goals you’ve made in the past year. Speaking for myself, I have made a number of new close friends and have started really honing into my career interests. With self-reflection, however, you also realize the raw truths that you may have been avoiding in the past. These may be certain facts you would prefer not acknowledging. One of the hardest things to let go of is a toxic friend.

In university, your friends ultimately become your entire support system while you're so far away from home. They stick it out with you no matter what; they endure both your good days and bad days. However, there comes a time when a so-called “friend” stops seeming so great. You realize that they provide more difficulty and hardship than positive support in your life. That’s when you realize your friendship has become toxic.

A toxic friend can be identified separately from an annoying friend. A toxic individual is often competitive, negative and prevents your own growth and change. Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, says “[Toxic people] have a number of motives. Some of them think that you will no longer want them in your life if you are to grow and get healthier as a person.” A friend that is toxic does not have your best interests at heart.

With the new year, take time and take stock of the value your friends bring to your life. You may realize there are some individuals that aren’t supporting your growth and this is the time to move forward in a healthy way. The new year is an optimal time to let go and part ways. The transition will be difficult, but important.

The first step is to accept that it is natural for a friendship to come to an end. When it comes to making new friends, we typically do not imagine the friendship coming to an end. However, just like it is possible (and necessary) to move on from a former significant other, it is also possible to move past an old friend. Remember, you will be facilitating your own personal growth and removing yourself from a negative environment.

While moving forward, it is important to let bygones be bygones. It can be difficult to come to terms with a friend who has become more hurtful than helpful. During this time, you may feel an array of feelings, ranging from sadness to anger to bitterness. In spite of everything, this individual should have been there to support you, and they failed. Allow yourself to grieve for the friendship you are leaving behind and take the time to reflect on what you learned by spending time with them. Holding on to bitterness will be just as damaging as holding on to a toxic friend. To move forward, forgive them for not being the friend you needed.

Another important step is to allow yourself to be supported by your other friends and family. Don’t attempt to go through this alone; surround yourself instead with those who will remind you of the logic and importance of your decision. Seek comfort from those who care for you unconditionally and will keep you grounded.

The easiest, least dramatic way to slowly bring a friendship to an end is to distance yourself. Over time, lessen your contact with them. You can achieve distance by occupying yourself with various other means until the split has been established. Allow yourself to make new friends and find new hobbies. Eventually they, too, will move on.