Dan Levy on Toxic Friends

Dan Levy on saying goodbye to toxic friends

Dan Levy on Toxic Friends

Photo by Luke Wooden

I’m just going to come out and say it: From time to time it’s necessary to make some edits to one’s social circle. And by that I mean trimming the fat, pruning the rose bush, losing some “weight”—whatever pat description makes the act of distancing yourself from a troublesome “friend” most tolerable.

I remember making my first edit in Grade 3. My friend Ian was at times terrifyingly temperamental and would often ignore me if I ever did anything to detract focus from him. Then one day while playing at my house, he got frustrated tying his shoe and whipped it into my mom’s great-grandmother’s grandfather clock.

That was an easy decision. But as adults, we don’t have friends whipping their belongings into priceless family heirlooms as indicators that we need to make some changes. Instead we have people whipping egos around, damaging something far more valuable—our sanity.

I fell asleep while listening to The Secret on tape so I don’t know where I stand on the energy we give off in a spiritual sense, but I do know that surrounding ourselves with people we don’t trust just plain sucks the energy out of us in a physical sense. And how are we supposed to be our best if someone else is insidiously deflating us?

The reality is there are some friends we’re not meant to have forever. And we often forget that. Mainly because the act of cutting a friend loose can be difficult, painful and even deadly according to an epic slew of made-for-TV movies. Instead, we avoid the drama and put up with those questionable friends far longer than we should.

I’m not talking about de-friending our nearest and dearest because they real-talked us about how we need to stop texting an ex. No, I’m talking about the friends who bring us down in a destructive way. The ones who don’t want the best for us. The ones who don’t have our backs. The ones who don’t lift us up. We all have a toxic “friend” like that. They may not be inner-circle, but they’re around. You can sense them like that first tickle of a sore throat. It’s those friends that we need to forcibly distance ourselves from because the more we have them around, the more they start to tarnish our shine, whether we see it or not.

And to be clear, I’m not recommending we mean-girl anyone. To edit someone from your life must be a properly evaluated decision. After all, the act of distancing yourself is difficult and if executed improperly could prove even more troublesome than if you were to have done nothing at all. The key is to create the distance gradually—a “fade out” as I like to call it.

And be warned, the longer you put it off the harder it gets. I have a friend who was so fearful of making an edit, he actually agreed to move in with his toxic friend. They’re both actors, and over the course of their—I’ll go with “tumultuous”—roommate-ship, my friend didn’t book one single job. He was too busy worrying about whether his jealous friend-turned-foe had a voodoo doll of him hidden somewhere in his room. I wish that was a joke.

Sometimes circumstance blinds us at first from seeing people for who they really are. Sometimes our friends take a turn for the worse, and sometimes people just grow apart. So what better way to celebrate a friendship—not to mention, to maintain our own mental well-being—than to make an edit before all of the good memories we had with that person get clouded over by the bad?

And if we decide down the line that our story is incomplete without them, there’s always a chance for a second act.

See all of Dan Levy’s work for FLARE here.