How to Cut Friendships That Pull You Down

It may be time to let go of a friend who belittles you, hurts you or abuses you.
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Researchers have found that healthy friendships play a role in supporting a person's overall health and well being. Unfortunately, some friends have the opposite effect. Toxic friends make you feel worse about yourself, don't respect you and criticize in an unhelpful way. If you have a friendship that falls into the toxic category, it may be time to cut the relationship from your life.

1 Set Boundaries

Before taking the drastic step of ending a friendship, consider whether severing ties is the best option. No one is perfect. Your friend may not realize that his or her words or actions have a negative impact. Talk to your friend about boundaries and explain your feelings. Be honest but avoid attacking him. Conclude by telling him that unless things change, your relationship will end.

2 Give Notice

If things don't get better between you and your toxic friend, declare your intentions to end the friendship. That may seem harsh, but it is an important step in the process. Tell your friend that you can no longer maintain the friendship and that you are parting ways. Making your intentions clear may prevent your toxic friend from trying to stay in contact. If you and your friend have a long shared history, he or she deserves your honesty.

3 Go Slow

You can end a toxic friendship two ways: the cold-turkey routine or the slow-weaning process. Some people prefer weaning themselves off the relationship by slowly cutting back how much time they spend with the person and taking longer to reply to emails, texts and social media messages. Over weeks or months, the friendship fades. Alternatively, you can go cold turkey and immediately end all contact.

4 Fill the Void

It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. The same is true of your social life. To help you move on, fill the void with something new. It doesn't have to be a new friendship. Find a hobby, take up a new exercise plan or change your daily routine. The excitement of new challenges can help you heal from the toxicity of the past.

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.