The main question to ask yourself when dealing with a toxic friend is whether you want to try to amend the friendship, or simply let it go. According to Nuñez, you can try opening up a conversation, but if this person is truly toxic, there’s a chance you’re not going to get far.
If you do manage to set boundaries that are then honored and respected, that’s a good sign that this person can take what you say to heart and make some necessary adjustments. If not, though, that would indicate it might be best to walk away.
“Maybe your friendship turns into reaching out on the holidays, wishing them happy birthday, and you become acquaintances more than friends,” Nuñez says, adding that this is totally OK.
As licensed marriage and family therapist Tiana Leeds, M.A., LMFT, previously told mbg, sometimes an outright friendship breakup isn’t necessary. “Ending the friendship may be as simple as no longer initiating contact or plans as frequently and allowing the connection to naturally fade,” noting that it can be helpful to instead focus on investing your time in friendships that feel fulfilling and mutual.
“I’m a big believer in talking things out and just not ghosting people, but if you feel that the friend is going to really take it hard, you can let the friendship go naturally. Just saying no or, ‘I don’t have time or that,’ because then it will naturally phase itself out,” Nuñez adds.
Long story short? Toxic people may not take criticism or conflict well. You can try to amend the relationship if you think it’s salvageable, but if your “friend” is displaying a number of the aforementioned red flags, it may be in your best interest to simply distance yourself and allow the friendship to naturally fade.
Here’s more on how to fix a toxic relationship if that’s the route you’d like to take. Otherwise, here’s our guide on how to breakup with a friend.