What would you do if you were in a relationship with someone who constantly stood you up, badmouthed you to mutual friends, disrespected your time by showing up late, and would "borrow" money without remembering to return it--ever?
You'd ditch them, right? Anything else would be unthinkable.
However, many of us would put up with the same things from friends or colleagues that we'd never think of tolerating from a romantic partner. After all, you don't have to live with your friends, and there's practically no chance that you might have to spend the rest of your life with them.
Making time for healthy friendships can lead to an overall more productive and happier lifestyle. If you've found that you have a bad friend in your life, it's time that you stand up for yourself and set some guidelines.
Friendships are meant to be enjoyable, not parasitic. Here are four ways to deal with a bad friend:
1. Reflect on the situation
I once thought a friend was being standoffish, and took offense to it. I thought about all of the reasons that they might have to be acting differently, and realized that I had not been as attentive of a friend as usual.
Remember that there is the potential for someone to be upset with you, and perhaps they don't know how to properly communicate that issue with you.
2. Write a letter
If it's just too painful or difficult to raise the subject with your friend, try writing a letter, but don't send it to them. Instead, use it as an outlet, or for inspiration on how you can approach this person when you are ready.
Putting your feelings on paper helps to ease tension, just as crossing things off a to-do list gives a sense of accomplishment.
3. Sit down for a heart-to-heart
First of all, you need to give that friend the benefit of the doubt. If you want to try to save your friendship before it becomes too toxic, you need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart.
Take the friend somewhere quiet, and tell them honestly how you are feeling. If the person is receptive, that is a good sign. If the person is defensive and accuses you of being overly sensitive, you know you have a problem.
However this turns out, at least you know that you gave saving your friendship with this person your best shot.
4. Phase the friend out of your life
If you've tried everything to resolve your issues but have made no improvement, perhaps it's time to move on.
My mother once told me that I didn't have to be friends with everyone, but that I had to be nice to them at the very least. I was in third grade when she said that, but it still resonates with me.
If you're not into heavy drama, and want to make it as easy and painless as possible to remove someone from your life, consider just phasing the person out.
Don't take their phone calls as often, don't hang out as much or be as available as you usually are, and cut conversations short. Start associating with other friends. Eventually, the two of you will drift apart, and it will feel like a natural disassociation rather than a swift blow.
While many people would consider just phasing bad friends out--by calling less, hanging out with other people and giving the cold shoulder, sometimes it is more gratifying to make a clean break.
After all, not every situation works for everyone. Sit the person down, and let them know what they have done and why you can't be friends anymore. Remember, you deserve to surround yourself with people that appreciate you and that treat you well. I like to say that friends are the family we actually get to choose.
While nobody is perfect (not even you), and I encourage learning to forgive and forget, there is a big difference between doing so and being a doormat. Again, knowing when to draw the line--and when to say goodbye can make quite the difference in your own happiness.
Share your tips with me in the comments section on how you've recovered from a bad friendship!