The last thing anybody needs is a “friend” who makes you feel mentally exhausted, inferior or stressed. Life is difficult enough as it is without surrounding yourself with people who don’t have your best interest at heart. A toxic person is somebody who makes you feel you’re not good enough and brings unnecessary negativity into your life. Once you’ve identified that somebody is no good for you, the best thing to do for your mental well being is to separate yourself from them. It sounds impossible but there are many ways you can cut off a toxic relationship without causing damage to yourself or the other person.

Here’s what you could try-

1- Put some distance between you.

The worst way to end any relationship is to do it abruptly and suddenly. Gradually putting them at an arm’s length will make the ‘break-up’ less painful for both parties. Some ways to do this are to make more plans with other friends, limit social media interaction and state some boundaries.

2- Don’t give advice.

This may sound strange and before I explain, it’s important to highlight the difference between toxic people and friends. A real friend will listen to your advice when they have a problem and help you when you’re in need. A toxic friend will turn any problem you go to them about around so that they can be the victim. They’ll also never take your advice because negative people love being the victim. Stop wasting hours giving them advice and try some passive responses. For example, “what do you think you’re going to do?” or “yeah that sucks” are gentle alternatives to wasting your energy giving advice that will fall on deaf ears.

3- Widen your circle.

If you only have a small group of friends, coming into contact with this person will be inevitable. If it’s possible, try to reach out a bit and make connections with positive people. This way you won’t isolate yourself socially and you won’t have all your eggs in one basket.

4- Stand up for yourself.

This is the hardest thing in the world to do but luckily, it’s only hard once. The first time you stand up for yourself in your life, it becomes so much easier to do it in the future. If someone says something false or mean, don’t be scared to call them out. Standing up for yourself can be as simple as asking them to explain what they just said to you- it doesn’t have to be a passionate, witty monologue like in movies.

5- Identify toxicity in yourself.

In some circumstances, negative people are attracted to each other. Consider how you know this person and if they’ve always been toxic. These people usually refuse to admit they’re wrong or take responsibility and they will try to control you. Positive people tend to repel negative ones because they don’t allow people to feel like victims. Once you start setting boundaries and being honest, you may find that your circle becomes much more peaceful.