- This week we discuss letting go of toxic friends and learning to relax and enjoy yourself
- If you have difficult, embarrassing or awkward questions to ask about teen life, send them in anonymously, and ‘Friend of a Friend’ will do their best to help
A while ago, I found out my “best friend” intentionally shared my secrets, insecurities, anxieties, fears and everything else with everyone. It was so embarrassing.
She is awful for doing that, and I know I should let her go, but I will miss the fun moments we’ve had – hanging out at the weekend, sleepovers, sharing music, and just being together. She made me who I am today, but my other friends agree that we had a kind of toxic relationship.
So why do I still want her in my life? How do I let go of a friend?
Thanks, Still Hanging On
Hi Still Hanging,
I’m sorry to hear your story. When someone you love and trust does something like this, it’s natural to feel betrayed. But remember that many people have been let down by others, and we all have things we’d rather keep private. Trust that everyone who heard your secrets can relate to an extent.
Remember, too, that some friendships have expiration dates. This one is past its sell-by date.
It’s understandable that you’re having a hard time letting go of this friend. You no doubt hope she has the ability to be a good friend again. But whenever you find yourself reminiscing about good times in the past, remember that she actively and knowingly sabotaged your friendship.
It hurts, but what you can do is separate the image of your friend into two people – the person she was when you were close, and the person she is now. This might make it easier to deal with being around her if you can’t totally avoid her.
It is normal to miss the good times, and it sounds like you had some great fun together. You are allowed to grieve the past, and acknowledge the impact this person has had in your life.
The best way to let go of a friend is to stop talking to, and being around them. Of course, if you have classes together, you can’t avoid them completely. But you don’t need to do anything more than be civil and interact only as the lesson requires.
Now is the time to focus on yourself and the people who make you happy. Pick up new hobbies or return to old ones that perhaps you stopped doing because you were spending time with this person instead. Change up your routine!
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other friends for support. Being alone will not make you feel better.
This is a good time to recharge, and also to reflect on how you behave in your relationships. It’s also important you work towards forgiving your friend – for your sake, not theirs. Holding onto anger and resentment is bad for your health.
Good luck, Friend of a Friend
I can’t enjoy my free time, because every moment spent relaxing feels like time that could be used more productively. Whenever I sit down to play video games or watch TV, I always feel like I could be doing something better, like studying. I’ve got exams coming up soon, and I know the content well, but I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting my time if I’m not revising.
Rationally, I know it’s okay to take time off once in a while, but I still feel guilty every time I relax. Please talk some sense into me.
Thanks, Too Busy To Relax
Hi Too Busy,
You know what is a waste of time? Worrying when you’re relaxing! Burnout is a real thing, and not taking a break from revision is going to end badly for both your studies and your exams.
Try to break up your day: allocate specific study time, but also plan breaks throughout the day. You can use Google Calendar, or write a physical to-do list. It might be helpful to assign specific activities to your breaks. For example, do something “productive” like exercise, tidying your room or a hobby during daytime breaks, then save relaxing activities like TV or gaming for the the evening slots. That way, you’ll feel like you “achieved” something, and can hopefully fully relax at night.
Other “productive” ways to spend your break include listening to a podcast – you’re not at your books, but you’re learning something new, so your brain is being stimulated – and moving. If you want to calm your mind, try yoga or stretching, and if you want to be distracted, go for a run or a walk while listening to an album.
Finally don’t feel so guilty! If you know the content of your subjects, you are on top of things. These nerves are probably exam-related, so if you feel you’re getting antsy, give yourself a moment to do something else. You will feel much more rested, energetic and prepared if you have variety in your day.
Best of luck, Friend of a Friend
If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please send an email to [email protected] with “Asking for a Friend” in the subject line. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!