As we get older, there’s a few people in our lives we have less patience for—hateful family members spewing Trump opinions at Thanksgiving dinner, acquaintances who always ask you for your name even though you’ve met six times, Tinder dates that send you pictures of their wee little bits, and boring dudes that like to say things like “you’d be prettier without all that makeup.” The best and only good thing about being an adult is that you get to drop all these people like Beyoncé singles and, because we no longer go to high school, never see them again.
But the one kind of toxic person we have trouble letting go of? The bad friend. Bad friends are worse than any lame boss, terrible boyfriend, or even the clueless aunt that thinks feminism is a synonym for ‘chomping on babies.’
Why? Because friends are only there for your benefit. They are there only to make you feel good in this awful world. They are the human equivalent of "treat yoself"—their purposes being to make you feel pretty, to share fries with, to borrow things from, to talk about yourself with, and sometimes, they help you move. They are there for enjoyment only, so it should be an enjoyable experience. You don’t owe them much: not work, or anniversary presents, or family reunions. Just some drinks and a few venting sessions. So why are we so afraid of letting them go? Why would we want bad, awful friends in our lives? I’m here to tell you that you don’t need it, how to recognize when it’s over, and how to let them go.
1. . The When
Knowing when to let a bad friend go is essential. Here are some warning signs:
They always expect you to listen, but you feel like they don’t listen back.
You know they are mad at you, but neither of you reach out to find out why.
They’re on your party guest list, but you haven’t wanted to spend one-on-one time in weeks. In fact, you can’t remember the last time you hung out and enjoyed it.
Seeing them is either an obligation or part of a group hang, and you’d consider them your friend because you have mutual friends.
They refuse to be blood sisters with you and enter into a pagan ritual that might make you all able to give a mild electrical shock to somebody brushing against you on the subway.
They order something delicious and don’t let you try it. Which is the worst.
They aren’t the Carrie of your friendship, or the Miranda, but more like the Skipper or they barely even fit into the completely realistic and incredibly accurate personalities of the Sex and The City Women!
The idea of seeing them makes you want to jump headfirst into a bathtub of Bloody Mary’s, and also drink the entire thing.
They’re late, cancelling, or always making you feel like you’re not the first priority.
They don’t make you feel good at all!
2. . The How
Knowing how to let a friend go is also essential, but nobody knows how to do it. I help below:
Pretend you are dead, and visit them as a ghost, one last time.
Stop telling them your business.
Have a conversation over dinner: you’ve noticed that you’ve been drifting apart, and you must let them go into the river like Tom Hanks did with the Volleyball.
On GChat, tell them you are no longer interested in having friends because everybody you love dies, and also everybody dies.
Tell them you're leaving for Taylor Swift's anti-squad, which is a bunch of friends who have known each other for years and aren't famous.
Start giving them terrible advice, like “maybe you shouldn’t date Kevin anymore and start dating someone you know better. Like, maybe Cersei has a point on Game of Thrones, you know?" It's always good to give relationship advice based on Game Of Thrones.
Tell them that you're no longer looking for human companions, and then open your jacket and it's full of birds.
Have you ever seen the movie The Vow? Pretend like you lost your memory, and make them work very hard to gain your friendship back.
3. . The Truth
Nobody deserves a bad friend. There are so many other bad things in life. Bad hospital food. Bad airplane seats. Bad reception. Bad dates. Friendship should be the one thing in life you have that makes all those things better. It’s like love, but without missionary. It’s precious. Don’t waste your life by allowing bad people in your life. Set them free. You’ll feel better, I promise.