It’s official: you’ve deleted the group chat off your phone, untagged yourself in all their photos and unfollowed them on social media. You’ve officially left your toxic, backstabbing, manipulative friend group.
But after the dust settles, what comes next? How do you move on? Last year, I finally left my toxic friend group and was forced to confront these questions among others. Although it was incredibly difficult, I can now confidently say that I am a much better and happier version of myself. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way:
It’s Okay to Cry
When I first left my toxic friend group, I expected to feel relieved. Instead, I mostly just felt sad and heartbroken. I had thought these girls were going to be my bridesmaids and the cool aunts to my future kids and having all of that ripped away from me hurt. Leaving a friend group, regardless of how they treated you, is often like a breakup. Even if you left for good reasons, you still might miss them and that’s perfectly okay! I spent a lot of time beating myself up for feeling sad instead of actually confronting my sadness. Have a good cry (or ten) and wallow in the tears for a little bit.
Don’t Be Afraid to Block and Delete
For the first little bit, after I left my friend group, I was so scared to delete pictures with them off my social media or unfriend them in case it made them upset. However, the hard truth is that when you leave a toxic friend group, no matter what you do, you’re going to make them upset. In my case, my ex-friends didn’t take well to being dumped and started sending quite a few nasty messages my way. That was the point at which I started using that block button as much as possible. Just remember: they never cared about your feelings, so why should you care about theirs?
You Don’t Have to Justify Your Decision to Leave
A lot of my family members were shocked when I told them that I had called it quits with my friend group, mainly because they had been my friends for so long. While I felt comfortable sharing the horrible details with some of them, there were others that I didn’t necessarily want to divulge that information to. It’s important to respect your own boundaries and only share what you’re comfortable with, even if people pry. Besides, it’s definitely not fun to have to relive all of the drama again and again.
Take Care of Yourself
While it’s totally okay to take some time and wallow in the sadness after leaving, don’t forget about self-care! Take that money you normally spent on girls’ nights and invest in yourself. Something as simple as getting your nails done or using a new bath bomb will help you feel marginally more human again. For me, leaving my toxic friend group helped me get back into reading, which was the perfect escape.
Try Not to Overthink It
After I left my ex-friend group, I immediately started wondering if I had made a mistake. I was obsessed with stalking their social media pages, wondering if their cryptic tweets or vague stories were directed at me. This was extremely unhealthy and made me feel worse in the long run. Try to push down those feelings and do not overthink your decision to leave. Remember how crummy they made you feel and how they used to belittle your every move. You made the right decision- don’t turn back now!
Being Alone Isn’t Scary
By the time I got the courage to leave my toxic friend group, I had known some of them for over ten years. Leaving them was the first time since middle school I had been without a designated friend group and I’m not going to lie, it was scary at first. However, being alone was also incredibly freeing. I never realized how much their constant attitude and pressure weighed on me until it was gone. It’s a magical feeling to know that you can go where you want and do what you want without being incredibly judged. While it’s weird at first to not have someone to constantly talk to and share your day with, the solitude is also really, really nice.
Leaving my toxic friend group was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was definitely the right decision for me. If you’re in a similar place and struggling, just know that someday it’ll all be okay. Gathering up the courage to leave your toxic friend group is tough, but I guarantee you’ll feel better in the long run.