How to Know Whether to Let an Ex-Toxic Friend Back Into Your Life
Toxic friendships are just drama, drama, drama.
Not only do they cause frustration, worry and other unfavorable emotions that can drag you down, they can even go as far negatively affecting your self-esteem and emotional health.
There's no situation where you should feel obligated to continue a relationship with a toxic friend, but there's always the possibility that a once-harmful friend can change their toxic behavior.
But how do you know if your pal has truly changed for the better, or if they'll simply resort back to their poisonous ways after you accept their apology? We might be able to help.
Keep scrolling for tips on how to know if you should let an ex-toxic friend back into your life.
1. Reflect on the Severity of Their Actions
There are all kinds of levels and dynamics of toxic relationships. It would be impossible to cover each and every situation, but suffice it to say that some friendships are more harmful than others. Before you take your toxic friend back, make a list of actions of behaviors that you could consider friendship deal-breakers. It can be something as simple as constant disrespect or something as severe as trying to steal your S.O.
After you've made your list, look back on your toxic friendship and determine if they ever violated any of those deal-breakers. If they did, it's probably better to leave them in the past. If they didn't, there might be hope for reconciliation. Harsh as it may sound, some behaviors are inexcusable. If your friend has already broken your deal-breakers, they've irreparably damaged your relationship and proven that they're not reliable. You can forgive them and move on, but reigniting your friendship will likely only bring up feelings that are better left in the past.
(Mean Girls via Paramount Pictures)
2. Set a Trial Period
Sometimes the only way to know if you should let an ex-toxic friend back into your life is by simply giving it a chance. However, you don't want to welcome them with open arms and fall right back into negative habits. Instead, we suggest that you set a trial period where you give your friendship a shot and see if the harmful patterns of behavior are still present.
A month or two should be enough time for you to determine if your friend has truly changed or if they're just talking a big game. Start off slowly with a few hangouts and be sure to keep your eye out for toxic behaviors. If they start to bring up the same old issues, promptly tell them that your friendship isn't the healthiest thing for either of you and walk away. And obviously, don't tell your friend about your trial period, as it will definitely color their behavior.
3. Talk It Out
Before you decide to reignite your relationship with a toxic friend, you have to talk about why your friendship was so problematic in the first place. One of the markers of toxic friendship is that your harmful friend will never apologize or acknowledge their behavior. Instead, they just expect to fall back seamlessly into old patterns. If you want your friendship to work, you have to break that habit.
It's going to be an awkward and uncomfortable conversation, but you have to tell your friend how their past behavior hurt and affected you. If they respond negatively, they're obviously not ready to put their toxic ways aside and create a better friendship. If they respond positively, however, it will be a pretty good indication that they're ready to break the cycle of harmful behavior and build a friendship that's healthy and beneficial for both of you. You might even learn how you can improve as a friend, as well, which will be helpful for this relationship and all your relationships in the future.
(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)
4. Follow Your Gut
Dealing with the reemergence of a toxic friend is always going to be confusing. It's hard to know with 100% certainty what you should do, so your best course of action is always following your gut. You know this person well—analyze whether they've actually changed or whether they're putting on a good show. What's more, determine if there's just too much negativity to rekindle a friendship, even if your pal really has given up their toxic ways.
You're going to have a gut feeling about whether or not you should forgive your toxic friend—go with it. If there's even a hint of doubt, you have to be willing to walk away and keep yourself from reentering harmful patterns of behavior. On the other hand, if your gut says you should give it a chance, you should follow that, too. It might result in a friendship that's even more powerful because you've gone through bad times together and come out the other side.
Wondering why it's so difficult to walk away from a harmful relationship? Click HERE for why it's so hard to let go of your toxic friendship.