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Besties? What to Do When a Friendship Becomes Toxic

We've all had that friend—the partner in crime, the hoe before all bros, the BFF—and, sadly, many of us have watched that infallible bond waver, fray, or even break. But what do you do when your oldest and dearest friendship seems to be doing more harm than good lately? Here's everything you need to know.

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Being "Best Friends Forever" is easier said than done. Sometimes even your oldest and dearest friendship can crumble under the pressures of change and time. While most relationships fall apart all on their own, some can become toxic long before the friendship has formally ended. Maybe one of you has a boyfriend and the other doesn't, and finding the balance between friends and love just hasn't panned out. Or maybe one of you just landed a great promotion and the other can't seem to find the right job, and jealousy has taken over. Whatever the struggle, a good relationship is usually worth fighting for, unless the friendship isn't healthy.

WebMD explains, "A friendship is between two peers. There has to be balance in a friendship for it to be healthy." If your relationship with your BFF isn't balanced, it may not be worth the fight to keep it alive. If you're not sure if your friendship is a healthy one, think carefully. Does your friend put you down frequently? Do you feel emotionally drained after hanging out? Is your friend always bailing on plans? You may be on the wrong side of a very toxic relationship.

So, what do you do now?
It's easy to feel trapped when dealing with a toxic best friend. You run in similar social circles, you might have future events scheduled, you may even live together. All those things and more make this situation tricky. According to Karen Valencic, author of Spiral Impact: The Power to Get It Done with Grace, "When there's a consistent negative pattern [in a friendship], you need to make a change. And that change starts with you.

1. Sit down for some real talk.
Often, in a toxic relationship, one or both parties will allow their emotions to bottle up without a fair release. Maybe the first few incidents seemed minor and could be ignored, but as a negative pattern develops, the frustrations of the past compound until everyone is unhappy and nobody is talking about it. It's time to be blunt with your friend. Tell him or her exactly what is on your mind in a firm but gentle way. It might sting at first, but true friends need to be honest and transparent about their feelings in order to maintain a healthy relationship.

2. Set some boundaries.
If things don't get better after a good real-talk convo, set some boundaries for yourself and your friend. Perhaps it's time for this friendship to take a time out; you may both need a bit of space to resolve the friction between you. Take some time to remember what your friendship was like in its heyday. Use the distance as a stepping-stone to get your friendship back on track. Basically, until you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

3. Walk away.
If the toxicity continues even with communication and space, it's time to leave the negative energy behind. Not moving on from the friendship is just allowing yourself to be hurt. And at some point, enough has to be enough. You may still love your bestie, but there comes a time when a bad relationship is too toxic to maintain, even if it wasn't always that way. Dr. Phil's website reads, "There are times when close friends hit different states in life and struggle to find the common group they used to have. Don't force it. Consider moving on."

Megan Wells

Megan Wells is data journalist and digital content editor based in San Francisco, California. Wells currently focuses on personal finance, mortgage, and lifestyle content. Wells' work has appeared in publications like Fox, Nasdaq, MSN, and Motley Fool. Wells also spoke at the 2015 Exceptional Women in Publishing conference.

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