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That toxic friend you can’t avoid: ways to deal

As a new clinician navigating my way in the professional life, I admit I was clueless. I was a new Speech-Language Pathologist–sure, they taught me things in college, but the real world was entirely different. I didn’t know how to talk to my students’ parents, moreso conduct an evaluation while a child was acting up and being unresponsive to tasks.

This is where I met a friendly face who taught me the ropes. She had more years in the profession than I had, and our friendship blossomed into something that went beyond work. Soon there were sleepovers, Friday night hangouts, and shopping sessions–we were inseparable.

However, things turned sour when I started to have a relationship. I had less time for her and this is where she turned dramatic and possessive. I was slowly being suffocated with the friendship that used to be all and well. Although I can’t completely remove her out of my life, I realized that I can regain control by placing boundaries. Are you dealing with a toxic friend that you know you can’t cut out? Here are some things that could help.

Be a gray rock

A gray rock is boring. Toxic people thrive on the attention and heightened emotions of the people around them. When you react to their drama, their agenda is considered complete. Thus, a way to pacify a toxic friend is by dampening your reactions. Even though it’s tempting to get mad or be emotional in return, it is best to have neutral words and actions towards your friend. Statements such as “That’s nice” or “Good for you” are some typical gray rock reactions.

Don’t respond right away

Toxic friends also crave the attention that they get from you. When they know that you will respond right away, the tendency is that they feel entitled and that in all instances they think that you should be doing just that. Don’t let them win in this area–have the patience not to respond right away to text messages, calls, and other forms of communication when possible.

Limit interactions

A toxic friend can also be described as a small flame that grows into a wildfire when they get what they want–whether it’s a favor, a response, or anything else for that matter. The more you interact with them or attempt to “end” the friendship, the more you are likely to feel trapped and manipulated to continue on interacting with them. If you have common friends, or you’re considered family, the best you can do is limit interactions with them. If possible, avoid places where you two have the chance of seeing each other. Change up your schedule and make sensible excuses as to why you weren’t there.

Act civil

As I have mentioned, toxic friends thrive on personal issues and drama. Thus, the best way to go about it is not to ignore your friend, but rather to act civil and assume that the situation appears normal. Don’t let them win the mind games, rather, stay above it and you will succeed.

Never allow toxic people to run your life. Through these steps, you can gain control and be less affected with the emotional stress they create.

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