Author Topic: Ending a toxic friendship  (Read 4675 times)

PoutineLover

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Ending a toxic friendship
« on: June 13, 2017, 09:59:55 AM »
I have a friendship situation I'd like to run by this forum, I feel like you will give me good advice. There's a guy I know from a sport we both played, he has since quit. We've become sort of friends, but he is kinda annoying. He's 29, no job, no income, lives with his parents and has no interest in ever becoming independent. Because of this, he's also a huge mooch, and is always asking people to buy him stuff but he never says thank you. He thinks he's right all the time, even though he has no idea what being an adult means. No bills, his parents pay for his cellphone, he briefly lived alone but that didn't last long. He asks me to hang out (and buy him ice cream) and sometimes I do, partly cause I feel bad and he doesn't get out much. He may have mental health issues, but he's not getting them checked out. Sometimes we end up having interesting conversations, but mostly he is very draining and he has poor social skills so I have to straight up tell him to leave. As I'm writing this, I'm like why the fuck am I friends with this person?! I want to ease away or end this friendship, and I don't want to be mean about it, but I also think he needs to grow the fuck up and be a real person. It's frustrating as he will make fun of the fact I have to work or have to budget, yet he can't even afford a chocolate bar and says he would never take a job that paid less than 75k (and he is completely unemployable, for the reasons above).
Does anyone know how I should go about this? In person or over text? Full honesty or sugar coating? We may run into each other at group things, but I don't want to hang out with him 1 on 1 and I don't want him to text me daily.
Background: I'm probably too nice, I don't like confrontation and I sometimes have a hard time asserting myself, which is why this is difficult, but for my own sanity and well-being I don't want to spend time with people who don't appreciate me and who don't bring anything to the friendship.

historienne

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 10:07:38 AM »
You might be interested in reading some of the Captain Awkward archives on this subject: https://captainawkward.com/tag/the-african-violet-of-broken-friendship/

PtboEliz

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 10:08:44 AM »
Hi PL, I feel for you as it sounds like this guy doesn't bring a lot to your friendship. I let a friend go a couple of years ago just by not being in touch and saying I had some difficult things going on personally when she asked about getting together (I did have a lot going on, but I would have said that even if I didn't). Like you I didn't feel comfortable with direct confrontation, nor did I want to give her feedback. She wasn't asking for it, and I didn't think it would be well received. Eventually I stopped hearing from her regularly and when I did I'd send a short reply indicating I'd be in touch if I was out her way. It takes a little longer, but the slow fade can be a good, drama-free option.

BigHaus89

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 10:30:29 AM »
I'll be the second vote for the slow fade away. People change, priorities change and people go in different directions in life. Even some great, lifelong friends who I love dearly have faded away because we have gone different directions in life. I have only had to intentionally distance myself from a few people that I had no desire to hang out with anymore.

You aren't getting any value from this guy's friendship, so let it go.

lizzzi

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 11:05:58 AM »
The slow fade.

Lady SA

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 11:22:58 AM »
I am a fan of the "grey rock" technique for really obnoxious people who do not get the hint but I also don't feel comfortable burning bridges with.
Essentially, do the slow fade, but on top of that, be completely BORING. In appearance, you have nothing interesting that happens in your life, you have a completely boring existence. The intent is to make him lose interest in you. Tell him nothing that is happening in your life. All questions should be answered with a variant of "I'm fine" and "Everything is fine". Even if you get married or have a kid or buy a house or get a new job. Nothing. "Yep, things are going good."
Then each time he corners you in person, answer politely then excuse yourself. "Yes, everything is going well. Excuse me, I've got to go speak with Susan about XYZ." *walk away*

Practice not engaging right away when he texts. Take a few hours to respond. When you do, practice not justifying, arguing, defending, explaining. Explaining yourself with pushy people gives them something to latch onto and keep suggesting ways to get around your "no".

For example, its the difference between:

"Hi Poutine, want to hang out tonight?"
"No thanks, I'm not feeling good tonight."
"Oh! how about I come over and we can play video games and I can cheer you up!"
*omg nonononono cringe* "No thank you, I'd rather just have a quiet night tonight."
"No problem! How about tomorrow night??"
"...Um... I've got soccer practice? (trying to come up with random excuses)"
"Oh that sounds fun! How about I meet you there!"

and

"Hi Poutine, want to hang out tonight?"
*a few hours later* "No thanks."
"... um, well, how about tomorrow?"
*a few hours later* "No thanks."

^That may SEEM rude to you, but that is actually the height of politeness. You are not calling him names or being rude in any way. You are simply blocking all avenues that he tries to steal your energy and chocolate. Moochers require someone to latch onto and suck dry, once you make it clear the Poutine buffet is no longer open he will move along to find someone else to mooch off of.

Fishindude

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 11:29:56 AM »
Having experienced similar, I'm not one to get rude about it or burn bridges, but some people are just too damn hard to be friends with.  It shouldn't have to be that way. 
Don't make up phony excuses or lie, just decline spending time together and gradually wean yourself away from this dude and hang out with others socially.  Doesn't mean you can't still be friendly if you bump into him down the road.


AZDude

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 11:37:57 AM »
Listen to LadyLB, there is much wisdom in her post.

I have only had to tell a "friend" to GTFO of my life one time, but the circumstances were very different(he was a good friend who did something terrible to someone else, and I did not want to be friends with someone who did acted like that). I usually avoid these situations by being very bland and boring with people I don't want to talk to, forcing them to either endure awkward silence or to carry a one-way conversation.


Lady SA

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 11:55:31 AM »
Just to add, there are many ways to say "no thank you"

"I'll have to pass, thanks"
"Count me out for xyz, thanks"
"Not interested, thanks though"
"Not my cup of tea, thanks though"
"I'd rather not."
"That doesn't work for me."
"No."

The trick is STOPPING after you say those. Do NOT tack on a reason for passing and do NOT apologize. Don't give the impression that you'd love to hang out, just tonight doesn't work. Be the boring, bland, grey rock.

And don't get sucked into circular arguments. Just keep repeating yourself ad nauseum. Again, to illustrate:

"Hi Poutine, want to hang out tonight?"
"No thanks"
"How about tomorrow?"
"Nope"
"Why not?"
"That doesn't work for me."
"But whyyyyyy?"
"It simply doesn't work for me."
"Well what about a different day?"
"No thanks"

Refuse to justify your decision. You don't need him to sign off on your reasons why hanging out wont work. He doesn't need to know that you have other plans. He doesn't need to know that those plans involve netflix and ice cream. He doesn't need to know that its your anniversary or that your kid has a fever or anything. Politely but firmly give him ZERO information, blend in with your grey rock camouflage, and refuse to budge.

PoutineLover

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2017, 12:06:08 PM »
LadyLB has very good advice, and I'm sure on most normal people it would work but there's one key thing here, he has no social skills. He can't take a hint, he doesn't know when to leave, he will actively try to stay over longer despite me saying "I'm tired, we should wrap this up" then "okay, you need to leave now" and finally "get out of my house!". Any normal person leaves after the first one, but not him. I know he's lonely and doesn't have a good home life, but that's not my fault or problem.
I'll try this approach and see if it works, but I have a feeling I may have to resort to something stronger. He's the kind of person who will text, and text again, until there's a string of unanswered texts and I finally respond to something. It makes sense that not many people like him, but I can't feel bad about that. I'm not going to be his friend out of pity or because I feel obligated, and I don't know if he can even learn how to have normal human interactions. I think it's a mix of his condescending attitude and utter lack of motivation that makes him a downer to be around, but I'm sick of it and don't want to put up with it anymore.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 12:13:13 PM »
I vote for an Irish exit.

Caoineag

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 01:45:51 PM »
Is he contacting you through your cell phone? Block the number. If he sees you at a party and asks about it, say honestly that you never got it and don't respond beyond that. If it's by email or social media, same thing block. You never got it. Leave it at that. Slightly more aggressive than grey rock but not much but makes it almost impossible to feel guilty since you never see the bids for attention.

PoutineLover

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2017, 02:11:18 PM »
I don't know if ghosting and blocking him is the best way to go about it, I feel like he deserves at least a little explanation if I'm going to totally disappear, so I'm leaning more towards be boring/slow fade and I'll resort to blocking if it doesn't get results. I've ghosted people who have crossed serious lines or who I don't have much of a relationship with, but since he does sometimes come to group events (free ones only, obviously) I don't want it to be too awkward.
I've been reading stuff on the Captain Awkward site, thanks historienne, I think that's just what I need. I used to operate under the assumption that I have to be nice, even to people I don't like, or make excuses beyond I just don't feel like it, but I'm realizing that I just don't have enough mental energy for people who don't bring me joy. Of course I'll still be polite in social situations, but I have limited time and I want to spend it with people I care about and who care about me. I'll call it the life changing magic of tidying my life up. Using a hard no without any sorry or excuses doesn't come naturally to me, but it's an essential skill and I need to practice that, starting with this guy.

Lady SA

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2017, 02:25:04 PM »
LadyLB has very good advice, and I'm sure on most normal people it would work but there's one key thing here, he has no social skills. He can't take a hint, he doesn't know when to leave, he will actively try to stay over longer despite me saying "I'm tired, we should wrap this up" then "okay, you need to leave now" and finally "get out of my house!". Any normal person leaves after the first one, but not him. I know he's lonely and doesn't have a good home life, but that's not my fault or problem.
I'll try this approach and see if it works, but I have a feeling I may have to resort to something stronger. He's the kind of person who will text, and text again, until there's a string of unanswered texts and I finally respond to something. It makes sense that not many people like him, but I can't feel bad about that. I'm not going to be his friend out of pity or because I feel obligated, and I don't know if he can even learn how to have normal human interactions. I think it's a mix of his condescending attitude and utter lack of motivation that makes him a downer to be around, but I'm sick of it and don't want to put up with it anymore.

With this, I think that if you ever do end up hanging out with him again, you need to adopt a policy of only meeting in public places. Meet at Denny's or a coffee shop or a park or whatever. Somewhere where you can exit yourself and you don't need to push him to leave YOUR space. By causing that much hassle and frustration by refusing to leave when told, he has earned himself a spot on the "not allowed to come over to my house" list. Natural consequence of being a dense moochy mooch. Throw sand in the sandbox? You don't get to play in the sandbox again. Easy peasy.

with the texts, who cares if they ile up? the phone is for your convenience, not an instrument in which other people get to summon you. Again, respond when you want to, but only with the polite, quick rebuttal.

"Hi Poutine, whats up?"
"Poutine, want to hang out today?"
"Hey, didn't hear from you, you free this weekend?"
"Hey did you hear about the movie that came out? We should see it together. Let me know."
"Poutine, are you ignoring me?"
"Hey, its me again, checking to see if you're alive"
"I'm free tonight, want to play some video games?"
"Seriously, stop ignoring me"
"What did I do?"
"What's up?"
"Poutine is everything ok?"

this is where you can finally answer IF you want -- be the grey rock! Just ignore alllll of the previous texts. Don't offer any reason for not answering or apologies or ANYTHING.
"Everythings fine, thanks"
"Oh thank god I thought you were dead! I've been wanting to hang out! Does tonight work?"
"No thanks"

And refer to my original post on how to handle it from here.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 02:31:11 PM by LadyLB »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2017, 02:29:55 PM »
Okay, for those that have zero social skills and don't understand subtle hints...

First, you don't want this guy as a friend any more? No problem. Everyone does this at some point and usually it isn't any big deal. People change and it never has to be someone's fault.

So for socially awkward dude: remove him from your social media contacts. Block his cell number, and do not answer any calls/texts you don't recognize. If he calls/texts you from a random number, block those too once you see who sent them (likely he might borrow a parent's cell or even landline if available).

If you see him out at a social event or randomly run into him somewhere: Polite by distant. Like a former boss you worked for at your first job. Say hello, ask him how he's doing and listen for a minute or two, and then excuse yourself and leave. "Hey, it's great seeing you, but I have to run/go to the bathroom/go talk to Sally." If he brings up being unable to contact you or the fact that you haven't answered his bazillion texts/messages - "Wow, never saw those. Weird." or "Yeah, I meant to get back to you but got really busy. Sorry!"

Any in person attempts to set up a future meetup: "Oh yeah, I have no idea if that would work. I'll have to get back to you about that." or "No, that won't work out for me, sorry!" excuse yourself (see above) and leave.

In the event he shows up at your house or apartment? You don't answer the door. Same thing as you don't answer the phone/texts. Keep your curtains closed if you hang out in a room that he might be able to peer into, but for the most part, check peepholes and avoid even speaking to him - do not open the door or acknowledge he's out there in any way. You did not invite him over, and it is not rude to not answer - he has no idea why you're home but not answering - and it is none of his business either. He'll go away after a few minutes. If he leaves a physical note, trash it.



What I think might be a good option B to consider in this case, is to tell him that you need a break from him to stop him from automatically contacting/texting you for a while. Tell him:

"Guy, I'm really swamped with work and life stuff at the moment, so I need to take a break from hanging out or talking/texting with you. I won't be responding to any texts/calls from you, and I do not want you to come over to my house. I will let you know when I'm ready to reestablish contact with you."

If he asks/questions why, then some form of response like this: "As I said, I am quite busy with work/life stuff, so I need to cut way back on social interactions. I think it is best if we stop all communications/socializing until I am ready to try again."

And if you're feeling real generous, you could throw in something along the lines of: "You are one of the people that tend to text me quite often and also not understand when it is time to leave when visiting, resulting in me getting behind on things I needed to get done around my house unless I stay up late to do them, resulting in loss of sleep time, which causes issues at work the next day." and add back in that the work/life issues are of importance so no more contact until you let him know.

This accomplishes two things:

1. You're alerting him up front and in no uncertain terms to stop contacting you in any way. As he is socially tone deaf, this is NOT being rude; it's being polite and no-nonsense, speaking to him in precise language so he does understand you. Without very clear, factual instruction on this, he will not understand and could continue to annoy and harass you for months. There is an added bonus that he may think about what you've said and start trying to self-regulate his social interactions a bit more with any unfortunate person that is too afraid to say anything to him about this.

2. You are making it clear that you are the one that will reestablish contact with him. He will not get anywhere with you by continuing to text you or dropping by your place.

Follow the first part (no contact stuff - block number/don't answer door/polite but distant when meeting randomly) as necessary going forward.

He may react poorly to this; say you hurt his feelings, call you rude, whatever. But here's the thing. You aren't being rude. You are establishing a boundary. As it is a boundary he is used to abusing, you may get some push-back, but that's why you just stay polite and firm and end the contact with him.

Being polite doesn't mean being a doormat. "No" is a complete sentence. Anyone that calls you rude or mean for that (as long as you aren't spewing expletives and arguing with them) is really just trying to manipulate you into allowing them to walk all over you again. It takes a while to develop a polite spine, but this is a good way of doing so. Either do the slow fade, or tell the guy you're going no contact politely but firmly, block him and treat him like running into your middle school vice principal if you see him out in public.

PoutineLover

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2017, 02:50:28 PM »
Frankies Girl, sounds like you've had extensive experience with this. I hope he doesn't show up at my house, but I don't think he would do that. Option B is good though, gives a bit of an explanation while still closing that door (probably forever, I can't see this dynamic ever changing).
And LadyLB, yes I won't invite him over again. I have told him that it's annoying when he won't leave, and he used the excuse that he just didn't realize, but come on. He's been trying to get me to watch a movie for months, and I keep declining the invitation. Lately, we've just gone to get ice cream and I make sure to have plans (real or imaginary) afterwards. He's a huge fan of reddit, so a lot of the texts that pile up are just him sending links to cute animals, and it gets old quickly. Honestly I just don't even understand how some people get this far in life without learning a few basic social skills, he could be on the spectrum but since he refuses to get help there's little hope that anything will improve.

AZDude

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2017, 03:25:03 PM »
I would disagree with FG. It is rude to tell someone you will get back to them if you have no intention of doing so. Especially to someone with limited social skills who will not be able to read between the lines.



life_travel

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2017, 03:41:43 PM »
I have a different thought having a family member with mental illness and social anxiety , I feel sorry for him . Clearly he doesn't have many (any?) friends and a lot of his "annoying comments " would be just because he doesn't know any different .
When a person is clearly disabled , we tend to "forgive" them , for their boring, childish or repetitive words ( like someone with Down syndrome or severe autism ) but if it is slight disability we judge them like a normal person. So for them, it's hard to be friends with severe mentally disabled people and normal people reject them .
^^ Don't take it as a judgement , just an observation first hand.

PoutineLover

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2017, 04:14:49 PM »
Life travel, I get that, but I've given him lots of chances and I can't do it anymore. I have many friends and family with varying levels of disability, and in general I'm pretty accepting of people outside the norm. I can tolerate some degree of "weirdness", or social awkwardness, but when I've already pointed out to him some of the problems, like overstaying his welcome, and he doesn't change, and when he says clearly hurtful things, knowing my situation, I don't think I should have to put up with that. He's unhappy but he takes it out on people who are trying to help, and he won't even try to change anything for himself. I'm a very independent, self sufficient person and I work hard to have the life I do, and he does nothing and expects people to just hand him everything, and he doesn't even appreciate it or thank anyone. He insults me, my need for a job and my apartment while asking me for ice cream and complaining about his life and his parents, who are supporting him 100%. I'm a bit torn and I think the reason I put up with it for so long is because I do feel bad for him, but I have limits too and I have to take care of my own needs first, which means distancing myself from him and enforcing firm boundaries.
AZ dude, thats a good point, but I was thinking more of giving him a reason why I'm distancing myself, while being aware that I probably will run into him occasionally due to mutual acquaintances.

Freedom Invested

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2017, 04:46:18 PM »
Life is too short to spend with people you would rather avoid and have the option to. Especially people that are draining and don't contribute much to a friendship.

He may have mental health issues, but he's not getting them checked out. Sometimes we end up having interesting conversations, but mostly he is very draining and he has poor social skills so I have to straight up tell him to leave.

It's frustrating as he will make fun of the fact I have to work or have to budget, yet he can't even afford a chocolate bar and says he would never take a job that paid less than 75k (and he is completely unemployable, for the reasons above).

I suggest going to hang out with him one last time and clearly and nicely as possible explain why the friendship needs to end. Tell him you're willing to get the friendship started again (if you are), but only if he fixes the above.

Meowmalade

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2017, 05:16:41 PM »
I ended a toxic friendship a year ago.  My friend (from work, but not someone I work with directly) would say inappropriate but harmless things to me (because he could; I was one of the "few people he could be himself with"), but when he started posting inappropriate things on my Facebook in reply to my friends, it got to be too much.  Eventually, I told him I didn't think we should do lunches anymore, especially regarding a very insensitive thing that he casually said that upset me quite a bit.  He came back to me a couple of weeks ago and said that he's doing his best to be good, and would I accept his friendship back?  We've had a couple of lunches since then and he's asked for honest feedback, which I gave him.  He's a good guy at heart and pleasant company when he behaves.  And I appreciate that he's trying.

He's unhappy but he takes it out on people who are trying to help, and he won't even try to change anything for himself. I'm a very independent, self sufficient person and I work hard to have the life I do, and he does nothing and expects people to just hand him everything, and he doesn't even appreciate it or thank anyone. He insults me, my need for a job and my apartment while asking me for ice cream and complaining about his life and his parents, who are supporting him 100%.

I would be blunt and honest with your "friend" since it sounds like that's what he needs to get through to him-- maybe even exactly what you said above.  Even if you don't wish to be his friend if he shapes up, it will help him in life if he realizes that his behavior has consequences.

Hargrove

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2017, 08:41:19 PM »
It sounds like your bigger problem is not setting the boundary, it's enforcing it. You feel awkward after saying "well, time to wrap this up" then actually making sure it happens. Sure, let him finish a sentence, and then continue your departure routine, walking to the door or offering a handshake or grabbing his jacket to hand over... whatever. Don't wait for him to accommodate a request that he stop - deliver him out of your house. You won't be angry with him for ignoring your point, and he won't be able to ignore the signpost when it's actually a moving train. If you want to remain friends, this will remove your frustration and anger from the equation and make that possible. It doesn't make sense to acknowledge that he doesn't get subtlety and then keep giving him subtle cues.

The other advantage to this is that he can't resist your boundary, except to make flagrant disregard of your wishes, well, flagrant. That is then the appropriate time to say look, I've tried to maintain our friendship but you literally ignore my requests. It's draining and it's frustrating, and if you don't respect my wishes, we're not going to be able to keep getting together. He has clear feedback. He can choose to be rude or respect your wishes. You then can be assertive instead of passive-aggressive.

SwordGuy

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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2017, 09:05:10 PM »
Simple way:

"Dude, you're a selfish dick, you mooch off of people and I'm fed up with it.   Maybe you'll actually learn how to become someone's friend instead of just viewing them as an organic cash dispenser.   Have a nice life in someone else's company. 
Bye."  Then leave and never respond to get-together requests again.

If you end up in a group setting and you don't want to ruin other people's good times by using the simple method above:

(When ordering yourself an ice cream and he mooches...)

"Hey, can you buy me an ice cream?"

"You know, it sucks so bad to have to go to work at my job, I think I'll order myself two ice creams.  Hey, I've been meaning to talk to {fill in other person's name}.  Bye."

Or, more simply,

"Never."  And walk away.


I've worked really hard to learn tact and diplomacy.  Unfortunately, this kind of person does not respond to that.  So I go for simple and direct.

And remember, "A gentleman never offends anyone --- by accident."   (Sir Bernard Montgomery)



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Re: Ending a toxic friendship
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2017, 08:31:55 PM »
Your time is too important to waste with people you don't want to be around.  Just don't meet up with the guy any more.  If he asks you what's going on, tell him that you don't like hanging out with him.