Everyone goes through periods in their life when they need to reassess who and what is important to them — commonly known as the negative friend cleanse. For some people, it means un-friending and deleting people off of social media, a symbolic way of cutting people off. For others, it involves creating distance from certain people who were not positive friends. Most of the time, the decision is conscious — we know what we are doing.
There may be times when you are becoming incredibly successful, and people are coming out of the woodwork contacting you. But, they only want a piece of your humble pie. And you may feel like they wouldn’t have contacted you or starting liking your Facebook photos, unless they knew about your promotion, recent engagement, new apartment, grad school acceptance- or whatever it is that is making you a hot commodity.
There may be times when you feel stuck in a friendship that is toxic, or you feel that one or both of you have changed. You both are going down different pathways, and you begin to see the major evolving differences. Maybe that person put you down in their speech, with bubbly-yet-backhanded compliments. And you notice.
And then you wonder, “Who is really my friend? Do these people value me or my success? This person and I are so different now. Should I move on?” When you spot people that are not on your team, or don’t fit in with a new life change you are creating for yourself- a negative friend cleanse may be in order in your life. And in this scenario, the word “negative” is really key because it implies that the friendship is really not genuine. It may be hindering your self-confidence and keeping you up at night. If you feel like you need to do a negative friend cleanse, here are some tips.
1. Be honest with yourself.
Reflect and assess. When you consider all of the backhanded compliments, flakiness and bailouts, gossiping and cattiness, and terrible dating advice to top it all off- you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t protect yourself from it. How are your friends making you feel? As your momma may have told you… “If they don’t build you up in your confidence and support you, they aren’t really your friends.” Even if you are a nice person, don’t be a pushover in your friendships. The golden retriever of the friend group may be the best-quality person, but if they are being walked all over, they need to find different people to associate with as friends. Take a deep breath and accept the truth. You probably already know the answers you seek.
2. Compare the paths you are going down.
Are you compatible with your friends? How much do you have in common? Start thinking of associating with friends who are on the same page. Choose high-quality people who have either similar pursuits or aspirations, or alternatively – goals that challenge you in a positive way. Think of kind people with bright futures – graduate students, young entrepreneurs, fabulous young parents. Choose people who compliment you, as well as those who complement you. A “work hard, play hard” mindset is something to think about when choosing friends. You “grind hard” in school or in the office during the week, but always meet up halfway for a good time. Some people have a “power couple” mentality in dating, and I suggest having the same in friendships. Think Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delavigne, and Kendall Jenner within your own right. Be a power couple of friends!
3. Make a decision.
Once you’ve decided to end a friendship, keep an idea in your mind that it is a choice you will stick with ultimately. A comparison can be drawn to a breakup with someone who didn’t treat you well- it’s really the same concept. If a friend is not a good influence on you and doesn’t support you, bringing positivity into your life- avoid retreating back to them. You don’t need them, and never did. People often retreat because of a history with someone or because that person claims to have changed. And the golden retriever of the friend group often gives second chances, only to be stomped on all over again. Know you can do better than that. Be definitive!
4. Find other people who are more supportive.
After you detach from bad friendships, you may feel like a loner. You may find an emptiness in your schedule on Friday night because one or a few of your core friends are out of the picture. Stick with your decision- because that’s okay! Instead of moping and thinking that you’re lame, be productive and start networking. Contact people from your past who you think are interesting and would like to catch up with soon. When you meet someone you would like to know better and befriend, exchange information or business cards. Then make plans to spend time with them. You may be going outside of your comfort zone in doing so, but if you don’t build new positive connections, you will remain feeling like a lone wolf. Be proactive, and build a new fabulous social life!
5. Let go. Detach. Move on.
Friend cleanses can be challenging emotionally, but if it’s a good decision, it will usually build your confidence. The more you can look back on negative things that were said to you and say, “That was so ridiculous and pathetic. I feel sorry for her or him,” the more positivity you bring into your own life. There may be people you “cleanse” from that you have known for years, and in high school you imagined they would be in your wedding. But, once you realize that they wanted to cash in on what you have, or push you down to climb to the top- you see that they were never supporters all along. Despite any fond memories that remain, if you don’t miss them, your friend cleanse was a beautiful, healthy act. You are golden, and deserve golden friends. So, let go, detach, and move on!