Friendships are hard.
And some are definitely harder than others. In fact some are just down right ministry. Every once in a while you meet someone and you just click. These are the friendships I love, the ones I long for. The truth is though, not all friendships are like that. In fact most of them take a fair amount of work to maintain. I don’t believe that that is necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes these friendships become toxic and you have to know when to cut ties. As a Christian this can be particularly hard as Jesus taught that loving your neighbor as yourself is the greatest commandment.
So what are the signs of a toxic friendship?
1. Lack of boundaries.
We can just call this the parent issue for almost of all the other points listed below. But the truth is, boundaries are an issue for a lot of people. Once you are aware of it you can’t help but pick up on it constantly. Having a friendship that doesn’t respect your boundaries doesn’t allow you to feel safe and if you don’t feel safe you aren’t able to build on trust.
2. Breaking your Trust.
Trust is the beginning foundation for any friendship, without it you can’t grow your friendship together. Trust is one of the hardest things to earn back once it is broken. Having a friend that constantly betrays your trust is not really a friendship worth pouring into.
3. Not Respecting your parenting style.
This one is so hard. We all want to do what is best for our children. And when you form close bonds among friends it becomes easier to put in our two sense. Don’t. It is none of your business how anyone else chooses to raise their kids. So butt out and love on each other knowing that this parenting thing is hard work.
4. Lack of Moral.
This one is hard especially as a Christian. When I see a sister and friend doing things that are not morally correct it grieves me. On one hand I don’t want to leave her in the middle of her darkest moments. But on another I do not want to be guilty by association either. If their lack of Morals is influencing your life and they are not striving for change then sadly this friendship’s got to go.
5. Can’t take responsibility for their actions.
We all know at least one person who it’s never their fault. In fact they play the victim so well you are afraid to say anything confrontational, because it will inevitably end up being your fault for feeling offended in the first place. As Charlie Brown would say, “Good grief!”
6. Placing your children in harm.
This should be a no-brainer. Just because you would do it with your own kids doesn’t mean you should do it with someone elses, especially if there is any room for error. Putting my kids at risk makes it very easy for me to sever a friendship.
7. Teaching your Kids bad habits.
I recently had a girlfriend do me a favor by watching my kids for me on a snow day. She decided that they would go to the school and go sledding. When they got there they noticed the gate was locked. Instead of driving away and finding a different place to go play, she decided that it would be acceptable to teach my 4 and 7 year old how to hop a fence. Now to some this may sound trivial, but when I as a parent am instilling respect, boundaries, honesty, and moral to my children, having any adult in their life teach them that it’s OK to break the rules as long as you’re having fun! Is not my idea of an influence I want around them
So what happens when it’s time to call it quits? How do you walk away gracefully?
I don’t think severing a friendship should come easy. I mean you’ve invested time into getting to know them. Ending a friendship should be a last resort, after you have tried everything to save it. First of all, you owe it them to let them know how they have wronged you. If you can talk to them and they are remorseful then I’m a big fan of second chances. However, there are times when they just don’t get it and you need to walk away.
I’ve recently had a friendship like this and it is very hard to walk away, but I know that this is what had to be done. Forgiving someone, and loving them does not mean you allow them to continue to be toxic in your life. It means setting those healthy boundaries, loving them from a distance and praying for God to help heal the hurt they are going to feel from you walking away. It’s not your job to heal their heart, it never was. It’s Jesus’. It’s you job to not be a jerk in doing so, and to ask for forgiveness if you were.
Find out what a non-toxic friendship looks like. The Value Of A Friend: Lessons From Geese.