MANILA, Philippines – As noble a throwback to 7th Heaven as it seems, to forgive and forget is not always the smartest move. When people’s toxicity far outweighs their merits, the more prudent course is often to forgive—then axe your friendship and never look back.
Because the new you that’s meant to accompany the new year also concerns the people you surround yourself with, below is a three-part process we’ve put together in the mature person’s guide to cutting ties.
PHASE 1: NEGOTIATIONS
1. Severing vs. Distancing
It’s one thing to grow apart organically (you like to frequent Today x Future; the bouncers at Valkyrie know her by name), but another thing entirely to cut loose someone whose very presence does you more harm than good. Maybe he’s hung out with chemical substance enthusiasts one time too many to still call it a social experiment. Maybe she is your real life Regina George.
Whatever the case, determine whether your differences are a matter of taste or of principle. If you’re convinced that it’s the latter, resolve to start Step 2.
2. Talk it out before you walk out
Confrontation is a dreaded thing usually reserved for nosy guidance councilors and serious romantic relationships, in which everyone’s all about Making It Work. But platonic friendships rarely work that way. As with most well adjusted individuals, your gut reaction is probably to grin and bear it—or perhaps talk about it with anyone other than the person in question.
But another new year hopefully means another year of wisdom accrued, and that means admitting that the grown up thing to do is dignifying your relationship by airing out your grievances. The challenge, of course, is doing it in a way that’s neither cruel nor sugarcoated (at this point, expect to belatedly realize the value of your high school palanca letters, where you could say virtually whatever you wanted because you’d just hug it out later). To do otherwise would be juvenile and cold. Also, your chance at being the Bigger Person would be completely shot.
If your friend doesn’t shut you out, repeat steps one to two until you’re sort of friends, great friends, or until you’re ready to move to Phase 2. If not, Phase 2 it is.
PHASE 2: PURGING
Congratulations, you’re one step closer to freedom! First, though, you have to navigate the aftermath.
1. Let the bitch flag fly
Do: Let no flaw go unscrutinized, no expletive unused. Write it out in a letter you’ll never send, or better yet, find a support group that will bitch right along with you in a way that makes you feel more liberated than vile.
Don’t: Take it to the Internet confessional (read: no subtweeting). Don’t be that person. The temptation will be strong but the regret will be stronger—and if it isn’t, you have some growing up to do.
Miniscule as Manila is, it’s more than likely that you share common friends with the person you’ve just unfriended. But if you can help it, make your guiding principle “out of sight, out of mind.” Do what you gotta do, whether it’s staying on the other end of the room or away from the party altogether.
3. Accept that some of your friends will still be their friends
Unless this ex-friend did something that any person of sound mind would find inarguably and inexplicably inhumane, chances are some of your friends will still want to be theirs. You may not, for the life of you, be able fathom why, but that’s that. Nobody deserves to be completely friendless, and a bitter and punitive attitude isn’t going to win you any people’s choice awards, either.
4. Social media blackout
We are who we follow. That said, to purge your life of someone includes decamping from their social media accounts. If we’re being honest, we all have those people whom we haven’t unfriended or unfollowed simply for the thrill of screen-capping their posts and sending them to our gaggle of co-haters. But in the case of toxic waste, all you’re doing is sitting in shit by choice.
PHASE THREE: FREEDOM
You will see these people again in the future. Nod in civil acknowledgment of their existence and proceed with your life. Deliverance!