They're self-absorbed.

They spread negativity.

They criticize you.

Whatever the reason, this "friend" is negatively impacting your life, and you have decided that distancing yourself from them is best for your wellbeing.

Maybe you’ve considered moving to another city. Or perhaps no longer showering.

how to distance yourself from a toxic friend.

Read on for some more practical ways how to distance yourself from toxic friends.

Tell Them

The most direct approach is to let your friend know that you’re looking for some distance - and explain why.

This will prevent them from wondering why your relationship has changed.

Clearly state your boundaries:

I need time and space to heal, so please do not contact me at all - no text messages, calls, or reaching out to me on Instagram.

how to distance yourself from a toxic friend.

Confide In Others

If you share trustworthy mutual friends, explain to them that you are distancing yourself from your toxic friend and that you need their help.

Please let me know if they're going to be at a group event so that I can decide to attend or not. I would also appreciate not talking about them - even if they are talking about me. It's a negative behavior that I want to avoid.

How to distance yourself from a toxic friend.

Emotionally Distance Yourself from a Friend

When they want to start conversations with you:

  • Only discuss topics of neutral or mutual interest

  • Keep your answers brief

  • Don't confide in them

They'll get the message that you are uninterested when you are no longer enthusiastically engaging or interacting with them.

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Make Yourself Unavailable

Limit your interactions with them as much as possible.

They invite you to join them at the movies? You're busy.

Do they usually eat lunch with you? You're eating elsewhere with other people.

The friendship will fade when they see that you are no longer available to them.

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Change Your Social Scene

Spend more time with others: deepen your existing healthy friendships.

Get involved in new activities or ones that you have neglected - this opens the door to meet people and make new friends!

When you busy yourself with other things and other people, your toxic relationship will naturally fizzle.

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Mute Them

Prevent anxiety-provoking notifications from barging into your life by muting their text messages on your phone and unfollowing them on social media. 

Seek them out on your own terms when you are ready.

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Delete Them

If you're looking for an abrupt break, delete their text messages, phone number, social media, or any other digital connection that you have. 

Block them from connecting with you or seeing your profiles.

Even if you can't avoid them in person, you can at least control their presence in your digital world.

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Quiz

You’re feeling uncomfortable after distancing yourself from your toxic friend. What should you do?

Take Action

You've taken an important step in deciding to distance yourself from someone who negatively impacts your life.

Now continue to take steps to make a positive change:

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This Byte has been authored by

CS

Carol Starratt

Learning Experience Designer