Let’s face it: everyone’s been around someone who really just drags you down. You know, those passive aggressive, backhanded ‘friends’ who never seem quite worthy of the title and always rain on your parade. Maybe they’ve tried to get with that guy you’ve been flirting with, talked shit about you to other friends, or never acknowledge your successes out of fear for their own fragile ego. Perhaps whenever you try to open up or convey how you feel, they even gaslight you and devalue any criticism.
The easy solution seems to be to simply quit hanging out with the person. But what happens if they’re already well established in your friend group? Or if your best friend can’t stop talking about how much she loves “insert toxic person’s name”. Or…. god forbid, they’re one of your flat mates.
In a community as small as St Andrews, leaving a friend seems impossible (were they ever one to begin with??). There’s no doubt in your mind that you’ll run into them in the Tesco ice cream section or awkwardly side step them on the BPM dancefloor. In the ‘bubble’, everyone knows everyone. What would other people say if you broke it off? Surely, this person would twist the narrative against you.
Yes, if you stand up for yourself things may become awkward. But isn’t the person already making things awkward with their dysfunctional behavior? You have nothing to gain by staying in an unhealthy friendship.
According to a survey by Today, 84 percent of women and 75 percent of men have experienced a toxic friendship. Apparently, far too many people don’t know how to be a good friend.
University life is stressful enough. You are faced with challenging coursework, homesickness, mental health struggles, heartbreak, and failures alike. On top of that, you shouldn’t have to settle for less-than-supportive friendships. At the end of the day, true friends should have your back, lift you up, and make you feel loved and cherished. No friend is perfect, but they should at least have good intentions.
If you feel as though a person is adding more stress to your life than anything else, it’s probably time to walk away. Feel empowered that you are in control of your own situation. If you can’t stand living with them, be proactive and start the search for a new flat for next year! If you’re seemingly trapped with them in a social circle, join a new society or sports team to help foster new, completely unrelated friendships. And above all, if anyone explicitly disrespects you in a way that harms your self-esteem or mental health, do not grace them with your presence.
You are not alone. I myself have had to walk away from many different people in my life for various reasons. It doesn’t have to cause conflict. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Simply choose to love yourself enough to walk away.