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Bye-Bye Bestie: How To Deal With Toxic Friendships

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Friendships are one of our greatest social support systems, relationships that we can fall back on when life is not just giving, but hurling lemons at us. Being an international student, I have seen firsthand my friends go to great lengths for me to keep up with the switch in timezones, progressively tough workload, and my unpredictable sleep schedules. I am who I am today because of this second family. And so, it tends to hurt the most when the people closest to you switch sides, turn their backs, or become completely unhealthy for you. 

There are several ways of dealing with the fact that your BFF is showing red flags. The first step always comes with acknowledgment. Remove the rose-colored glasses and understand for yourself what has gone wrong. Having a conversation about it is always helpful. Take them out for Starbucks or brunch date and talk through it if you feel like they will read the situation from your point of view. Maybe they just have a lot going on in life that has made them act out and this discussion can end up proving beneficial to you both. Moreover, explaining your side of things will surely make them empathize with you, motivating them to retake their steps and improve upon their decisions. 

Tough love usually works like a charm when bad habits come into play. Feel free to set boundaries unapologetically and take time to assess your feelings and figure out what you want to do about them. If you feel the need to do so, reducing contact with that person can give you the time you need to make up your mind about the next possible steps. Taking time off can also be a pertinent indicator that you’re not messing around, and that this situation is serious. Be respectful and kind, but don’t be afraid to call them out. It is important to remember that as friends, correcting them is not a crime. You are helping your friend become a better person, building your relationship to be more beautiful, accommodating, and harmonious. 

Incorporating the third wheel could be the push you need to snowball the conversation forward. Are their habits consistent? Do they change when I bring someone else into the picture? These are some questions you need to ask yourself while noticing how they behave when other people are around. It is also easier for a stranger to subtly call them out first as you start taking these initial steps. If this buffer friend starts to have concerns similar to yours, you also have a plus one to rely on for support, someone who actually knows what you’re talking about! 

If you’ve tried everything and a consistent pattern of them hurting your feelings persists, then it’s important for you to start prioritizing yourself. It is extremely difficult to fathom parting ways with your BFF, but it doesn’t have to be a messy break-up. People come and go and you should try your best to make peace with the fact that this person couldn’t be your forever friend. Ending a toxic friendship might open your eyes, make you feel more in control, and help you take care of yourself. And the future isn’t going to remain so bleak! If you feel like they’ve truly worked on themselves, maybe you can approach them soon and rekindle the faith and trust you had in each other.

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Rhea Mukherjee

U Mass Amherst '24

Rhea Mukherjee is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is majoring in Psychology and double minoring in English and Biology. A people's person, Rhea has a deep passion for mental health, awareness and adolescent wellness. When she's not nose-deep in work, you can find her strumming her ukulele, reading memoirs or writing poetry!
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