I broke up with one of my best friends a month ago.
And I have felt nothing but sweet relief that it is over. It all came to a head in my local shopping centre carpark.
I felt the dread coming on that morning when I knew I had to see her for brunch. And I knew she would do nothing but bitch about me and our other friends.
Should you break up with a friend? The Well podcast has practical tips and advice you need around good, bad and toxic friendships. Listen here:
We’d met when we were both 20 at uni. We’d formed a strong bond because we knew the same people and went to similar schools. Then I moved away and only saw her every second month. But every time I did, it was lovely.
And then I got engaged and it started being not so… lovely.
It was like every time I caught up with her it was a competition. A game that only she was playing. She had to tell me how much better her life was over mine. She had to prove that she was more successful. Had a better job. Had a better house. Had a better partner.
On the outside, butter wouldn’t melt. But behind her eyes it felt like she was screaming ‘MY LIFE IS BETTER, SEE?’.
And still I sat, and listened, and took it.
I’d nod along with how great her life was, take an ear bashing over mine, and walk away feeling terrible.
It was like she had this hold over me that made me feel like I needed approval from her.
So, back to brunch.
Everything played out as it usually did. She pretended to care about my job, made snarky comments about my fiance, and feigned interest with a very fake smile when I told her about how I was planning a trip overseas.
We said our goodbyes, and I walked back to the carpark.
What was the last text you sent your best friend?
Then I burst into tears.
Needing validation, as I so often do, I called one of our mutual friends. And she told me something that has since changed my life and my outlook on friends for the better.
“Why are you friends with someone who makes you feel like crap?” she said.
“She always has, she always will, and I’m telling you know - it’s not worth it.”
"You need to let her go."
I'd never really thought that I was in a toxic friendship. And I'd never really considered not being friends with someone. But my wise friend was right. What was the point of hanging around someone who made you feel bad about yourself? Had she been a boyfriend I would have dumped him and moved on ages ago. Why should friends be any different?
So I cut the cord.
I deleted her off Facebook. I took her off my favorites list. I stopped calling, I book brunch with others instead. I didn't text. I didn't call. I stopped watering the friendship.
And a month on, I've never felt better.
Have you ever broken up with a toxic friend?
On the latest episode of The Well, author Bec Sparrow and radio host Robin Bailey have practical tips on how to be a better friend, how to dump the crap ones out of your life, and where you can pick up new ones. Listen in itunes or here: