How to tell your friend they’re toxic

1 July, 2022 / words by Nancy Lova

Written by Chelsea Nyirenda

Image by @JamilaStrand

The awkward moment when you have to confess” It’s not me it’s you”. Here are some tips on how to communicate your boundaries to a friend respectively, and create steps together on how to come to a resolution for the sake of your relationship.

I once completed a whole college course with one of my friends and didn’t notice how much I was bothered by her until I was literally rolling my eyes behind her back, and she caught me through the mirror. AWKWARD! But honestly, thank God for that moment. Sometimes it takes us a minute to realise we’re uncomfortable, angry, or exhausted, and I feel like it takes us even longer when friends are involved. I think we get so caught up in how much fun we’re having with this person, the history we have, or the codependency, that we don’t even realize that they’re toxic.

It’s never an easy time to have the “It’s not me it’s you” talk, but girl, it’s either you speak your mind or lose your mind, and your friend. There is no valid reason that you, at this very grown age, should be practicing passive-aggressiveness, allowing your loved ones to walk all over you, or simply keep showing up for a good time even when you know it’s always going to be an irritating time, aren’t you tired? Take the shackles off and sit them down! This article is a guide on what to do once you’ve got them alone and finally have the courage to speak up. 

In the book Toxic Friends/True Friends, author Florence Isaacs perfectly defines what a Toxic Friendship is, she says “A toxic friendship is one with no balance, One friend’s needs get met while others are forgotten. A toxic friend is draining, unsupportive, and focuses only on his or her feelings. He or she (or they) also gives tremendous stress. Furthermore, you’ll find a toxic friend overly demanding.” (Liew, 2017). If that sounds like anything you’re experiencing with one of your friends, it’s time to show up for yourself! 

Toxic friendships come in all shapes and sizes, this could be someone who demands your time, but on their schedule without any consideration for yours. Someone who always needs your listening ear, but struggles to show you empathy when you need it. This person may never have anything good to say about anyone else, but themselves. This person may not even talk about anything but themselves. They may be ghosting you for attention, or never in the stands rooting for you. The point is, there’s no room for you and your amazing heart, in their reality of “them”.

You have got to help them realise that you feel either alone in the friendship or overworked. Here are some helpful questions/statements to ask to help you through this conversation, 

“I can’t wait to see you this weekend, but before we meet up I wanted to talk about what happened last week” 

  • You might have just noticed that your friend has a habit of doing ”xyz” when you are both out or together and it really makes you uncomfortable. Starting with reassurance that you are excited to see them can sometimes ease the tension of what is to come after. This is an indicator that you’re not having this conversation to cut them off, but to let them in on what you’re feeling or experiencing in the friendship. 

“I want us to be on the same page, and feel like we can be open with each other, however, there are some things that I choose to keep for myself and my mental home, (here are my boundaries), do you think you can respect that?” 

  • Boundaries serve as an amazing check and balance system, in any relationship. Platonic, romantic, business – they all need boundaries. It’s important that you share yours, but it’s also important that you get their consent to respect them as well. Sharing your boundaries means nothing if they don’t agree to abide by them

“Do you feel like I do my best to support you? Do you think you support me?” 

  • If you feel as if your friend isn’t supportive, this is a good way to tell them how you would like them to show up for you, and when you might have felt like they fell short. 

These are simple conversation starters that definitely have more of an “ease your way into it” approach, but being direct is just as effective. I’m a Taurus, and if you didn’t know, we like to get right to it. These tips are also interchangeable for any issues you may be dealing with. These conversations can be nerve-wracking, but remember as long as you always lead with love and respect I believe you should get that in return. I believe in you.

Good Luck 🙂 

10 Signs of a Toxic Friend Who Is Secretly Poisoning Your Life (


Nancy Lova


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