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Cutting Out the Toxic Friend

Do you have a friend in your life that drives you absolutely insane? A friend who never takes your advice, makes terrible life choices, and always ends up dragging you into their seemingly endless stream of drama?  A friend that you have gone the extra mile for, prayed for, and tried to help out time and time again?  A friend that drags you down more than they lift you up?

You put up with your friend’s poor behavior and bad life choices because you love them. You want to see them happy, you want to see them succeed, and you want nothing but good things to happen for them.  You see potential in them that they can’t see for themselves and you feel it is your “duty” to help them as much as you can.  You put up with their bad behavior and forgive them over and over when they hurt you because you truly love them and you think that one day, your friend will snap out of it and be the person you know that they are capable of being.

But when is enough, enough? When is it time to say, “I love you, but I can’t be involved in your drama anymore.”? How many times can you forgive a friend for hurting you, stabbing you in the back, or dragging you into drama you never asked to be in in the first place?  When is the breaking point where you step back and say, “Stop.  I’ve had enough.”?

I had my breaking point with a friend I have known for over fourteen years last week. A friend who I have gone above and beyond to help time and time again.  A friend who I was there for when she needed a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen when things were rough for her at home.  A friend who had been in a mentally abusive relationship for over a decade and who begged me for help to find ways to get out of her situation.  A friend who stabbed me in the back more than once, but who I forgave because of her abusive situation.

Her drama became my drama and over the years I found myself getting sucked deeper and deeper into her world of lies and deception. She told me what I wanted to hear to my face, and then behind my back, she was a completely different person.  If I spent an afternoon with her crying on my shoulder because of the way she was treated the night before and I counseled her on ways to help herself; she would thank me and hug me and tell me that she loved me, and then go right home and tell her abusive partner that I was trying to force her to move away from him.

It was little lies like that and little ways she stabbed me in the back over the years that finally wore me down to the point that I took time off from her. I went almost a year and a half without speaking a word to her, acted like she didn’t exist just to distance myself from her and her situation.  She needed to figure out her own life and it was obvious that she was never going to listen to me and her drama did not need to be in my life or my children’s life any longer.

Then one day, I heard the news I had been waiting years for; she was finally moving out and moving away from her abusive partner. She had enough, she wanted to have a fresh start in life, and she finally found the strength in herself to make that step towards a brighter future; a future with no abuse.

I was so damn proud of her. So proud that she took that step and proud that she made the decision on her own, without me pushing her or anyone else helping her decide to change her life.  The day she moved out of her abuser’s house, I hugged her close, told her how proud I was of her, and told her that I would always be there for her.  “Never come back to this house” I said to her.  “Never go backwards”.  “Oh Sarah, I won’t!  I’m never coming back and living this life again!”

So proud.

And so disappointed when not even three weeks later I find out she is letting her abuser back into her life and is probably back on her way to move back in with him. Hey, that is her choice; if she enjoys being yelled at, screamed at, and being called fat, lazy, and ugly, then that is her life choice and she is choosing to live that way.  But it isn’t my choice, and I don’t have to keep dragging myself down for someone that refuses to make positive choices in their life.

Friendship is not one sided. Friendship is a mixture of affection, loyalty, love and respect from both people. Friendship is about learning from each other, encouraging, supporting and caring for each other, building memories, and helping each other grow.  Both people can’t benefit from a friendship if one person isn’t putting any effort into it.  There is no point in spending time with someone who makes you feel worse after speaking to them.  Don’t be afraid to let go of the people who don’t fit in your life; losing a friend isn’t a personal failure on your part.  Sometimes moving on is the best thing to do.

Cutting Out the Toxic Friend

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). Cutting Out the Toxic Friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Aug 2017
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