A toxic friend is not only exhausting, they can sometimes make us question our own self-worth. Friendships aren’t that different from romantic relationships: There’s a period of getting to know one another, periods of needing space, and sometimes, a moment when the friendship has come to an end. When a romantic relationship is no longer a happy one, we break up. Getting rid of a toxic, clingy friend is essentially a breakup, too. You could ghost, but that never feels good. Here are some alternatives:
Be honest. To yourself and your friend. Prior to talking to the person, write down what you’d like to say to them. Avoid attacking them; politely tell them that the friendship is no longer working for you and you feel it’s best to go your separate ways. Go over it once or twice to make sure you have a clear and concise explanation for why.
Set boundaries. Make sure you know going into the split with this friend that you have clear boundaries you want to follow, whether it’s about not talking for a set number of months, or agreeing in advance to not show up at the same parties. Be prepared for the possibility that the friend is likely to try to make a comeback in one way or another, which will force you to remind them of the boundaries that you’d set.
Unfollow them. It’s no different from a romantic relationship in this case. Keeping your exes on social media, whether they’re platonic or not, only keeps them present in your life. It allows you to check in on them and vice-versa.
Identify some healthy activities to enjoy. Go do things for yourself, engage in healthy friendships, volunteer. These things will not only serve as a distraction while you focus on moving on, but will also help create healthy habits—and, with luck, decrease the likelihood that you’ll befriend toxic people down the line.