Friendships often seem like relationships that will last forever. Your work bestie, your college roomie, your long-time BFF — these people are your people, and it's assumed they'll always be there. But sometimes things don't feel right, and you may have the sneaking suspicion that the friendship is holding you back. When that happens, moving on may be the best option.
This can happen when you outgrow a friendship, which is often the case once you head off to college, or go through another major life change. But this is even more so the case when a friendship has turned toxic. "In the same way that great friendships can help you achieve your personal goals ... a toxic friendship can block you from moving forward," says Sally Horchow, broadway producer and co-author of The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections, in an email to Bustle. "It’s hard to admit that a friendship has become stale — much less toxic. But once you have, it’s imperative that you quickly get out of the situation."
If you think that's the case with one of your pals, Horchow suggests slowly backing out of the friendship the way you would a bad date. "The best way is to simply stop making plans with that person, and cut off communication with them," she says. "If that feels harsh, then wean off more gradually ... Fewer and fewer texts over time, until it’s silent." Read on for some signs that your friendship is most definitely holding you back.
1. They Don't Support You Making A Change
Let's say you want to make a positive change — maybe it's exercising more, drinking less, or giving up smoking. A good friend will be on board with that, and may even help you out. A toxic friend, on the other hand, will likely come up short in the "supportive friend" department. They may even give you a hard time, Horchow told me, or encourage you to do the very thing you're trying to avoid. Not cool.
2. You Can't Share Your Accomplishments
Besides maybe your mom or your SO, your friends should be some of the first people you notify when things are going well. So take note if you keep your accomplishments on the down low. "If you're worried to tell a friend about a new accomplishment, triumph, or life event, you might want to look harder at that relationship," said health expert Rebecca Butler on MindBodyGreen.com. There may be some underlying competition or discomfort there that's only going to hold you back.
3. You're Never Your True Self
"Most of us have a tendency to rein in certain parts of ourselves around certain people, but when it comes to a true best friend, you should be able to let it all hang out — or at the very least, be able to be honest about who you are and what you feel," noted health writer Claire Hannum on SELF. If that's not the case, it may be time to move on to a friend group where you can truly be yourself.
4. They Seem Jealous Of You
Remember what I said about your so-called friend not supporting your positive change? "A friend ... who discourages you from making that change, or even threatens to stand in the way of it (because, perhaps, that person thinks it will threaten their importance in your life) is not a friend to keep," Horchow says. You want a friend who sees you as a separate and amazing person — not someone they compare themselves to.
5. You've Grown In Different Directions
I remember the moment I realized some of my high school friends and I had grown in different directions. It sucked, but moving on gave me the chance to be the new 20-something I found myself to be. "This can be such a bittersweet reality of young, intense friendships," Hannum said. "Maybe once you wanted the exact same things out of life, and now, your values are clashing. Sometimes that's just too impossible to ignore."
6. He Or She Is Constantly Letting You Down
A friendship shouldn't make your life stressful. So don't put up with a friend who constantly lets you down. As health writer Kassandra Brabaw said on Prevention, "... if she's always rescheduling, always late, and always forgets to call, then there might be a problem." This type of disrespect is simply not something you should have to deal with.
7. You Don't Get Anything Out Of It
If you've been friends with someone for a while, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is you get out of the relationship. Maybe your friend seems to be happy and content with how things are, but do you? "Friendships are supposed to be meaningful in some way for both parties,"said Butler. "If you hesitate when you have time scheduled, you might want to stop and look into that feeling."
8. There's Some Kind Of Unknown Tension
You wouldn't put up with tension in your personal life, so take note if you're putting up with it from a friend. "Usually, these end up exploding before they get any better or worse," Hannum said. "Sometimes, that confrontation leads to understanding each other better than ever, which is awesome. Other times, though, it leads to the grim realization that your friendship isn't working anymore."
9. Your Friend Doesn't Expand Your Horizons
If you truly want friends to push you forward — instead of holding you back — then look to surround yourself with friends who push the boundaries. Look for people who introduce you to interesting ideas, or who are always down to try something new. It's perfectly OK to (politely) drop anyone who doesn't fit the bill.
10. It Feels Like A Waste Of Time
We all need those pals who pop over to say hi, or to chat about the weather. But it should never be at the expense of doing things that matter to you. Think of what you can accomplish when you clear up that schedule, and devote yourself only to relationships more worth your while.
11. When It's All About The Drama
Occasional disagreements are to be expected, and good friends will weather them together. And yet, in the same way you don't want to clog your calendar with pointless relationships, you also don't want to bog yourself down with drama, according to Hannum.
Life's too short to be held back by less-than-stellar relationships. So don't be afraid to move on from the ones that are stale, toxic, or not worth your time.
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