Friendships are never neutral.

Either you are experiencing a friendship that fills you up or leaves you empty. Friends either cheer you on or hold you back. They can point you in the right direction or mislead you down a different path. Have you heard the phrase, “you are what you eat?” It is similar with friendships–you become a mashup of who you spend time with. When we rationalize our toxic friendships away saying,

“she is only like this sometimes.”

“we have been friends for so long, I can’t end it now.”

“what if this friendship could turn around?”

then we enter into a very dangerous territory.

Often, “We rationalize [toxic friendships] by downplaying the influence our friends have on us or by saying we are merely trying to help them.” -Van Moody, author of The People Factor

Unfortunately, toxic relationships have more damage than we may initially recognize. Toxic friendships can hurt our self-worth, our families, and our courage to make bold decisions for our faith.

Here are 3 signs you may be in a toxic friendship:

1.It is an unbalanced friendship where your friend benefits from your assistance, security, or help without expressing gratitude in return.

2. If you are constantly suffering from their bad decisions and are headed in different directions.

3. The friendship does not allow you to move forward because the friend cannot leave certain things behind (i.e., unforgiving, jealous, bitter).

These toxic friendships look different for each of us, but we must take it to the Lord and ask, “What next?”

Some of us may find that we want to keep the friendship but with wisdom. Set clear expectations.

Others of us, may find it is time to say goodbye. Don’t allow yourself to help people God has not assigned to you.

Don’t allow guilt or sympathy keep you from ending a toxic friendship. Not everyone should come with us as we grow and move towards God’s plan for our lives. When you sense the friendship is already over, then let it come to a gracious end! Cling to the people who you recognize as lifelong “sisters” and say goodbye to the friends who are only going halfway with you. You are both going to make it without each other.

In the middle of a friendship breakup? It’s hard right! Here are some tips on “How to navigate the shame of losing a friend.”