Ditching Toxic Friends
Why I don't feel guilty dropping bad friends from my life.
Finding good friends is just like dating. You can't just be friends with just anyone. It has to be the right fit; there has to be some chemistry, shared interests, similar senses of humour and the intention to be there for one enough through thick and thin.
I have never been particularly popular, and it never bothered me too much. All I needed as a kid was my best friend, the keeper of all my primary school secrets, ultimate sleepover buddy and second sister. As I grew up that friendship drifted apart, and I found myself a part of a small friendship group during my teenage years. At times I felt supported and 'normal', however in hindsight I look back at those years with sadness. It's only now I realise how backhandedly cruel they were to me, passing off their mean remarks and put downs as testaments of their friendship. I wish I could go back and drag young me out of that toxic circle, teach young me it is perfectly acceptable to not be associated with a friendship group, that it wouldn't be the end of world to be alone-that, in fact, I'd be happier for it.
As I'm reaching my mid 20s, I've come to the sweet realisation that being alone can be heaven. When I moved to a new city 3 years ago I knew no one. I joined a couple of groups specifically made to help young adults find friends. Initially, it was a success, at one point 2 years ago I had 10 friends! We even had our own group chat and arranged regular meet ups for dinner, cocktails and movie nights. I could probably always find someone to hang out with on short notice within this group, it felt like I'd finally cracked the social life game. It took a few months for the cracks to start showing. I started to realise how little I knew these friends; I knew enough to socialise with them regularly but it all felt so superficial. Like, we were all each other's friends just to pad the number of friends we all had. I'd also started to pick up on some unsavoury traits these people had; one would often drink and drive no matter how much I'd beg her not to, another would throw a temper tantrum if some of us met up whilst she was at work, and another wouldn't stop bragging about her desire to cheat on her husband. These were not people I wanted to be around, I wanted friends who shared similar morals and views. I left the group chat and no one bothered to get in contact privately, thankfully.
When I left that group I had virtually no friends. I did worry for a while about what my next step was but soon learned to love my own company and focused on my hobbies and fitness. Then about 6 months ago I joined an app called Bumble. It lets you swipe left or right on photos of potential friends, which is admittedly very superficial, but what did I have to lose? I met a fantastic person within a few days of joining up, we chatted for about a month then finally met up in person for drinks. So far it has been a fantastic friendship and it's really raised the bar now for future potential friends. I'm not saying this is the way to go for everyone, it just so happened to work well for me. The lesson I've learnt from all these failed friendships is to not settle for just anyone. We all deserve to have good, decent and true friends in our lives. Go find yours.