There is a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend time with and research backs this up. We are greatly influenced by our friends, for better or for worse. Good friends are the cornerstone of wellbeing while toxic ones can take a toll on our mental and physical health.
If you have a toxic friend—someone who is a negative influence, who doesn’t wish you well, who makes you feel weak or inadequate, or who is untrustworthy, it might be time to remove that person from your life. Sometimes people just grow apart. Just because you were friends in college does not mean that you must be friends forever.
But before you cut that person out of your life entirely, be sure that a misunderstanding is not at the heart of the problem. In the same way that communication matters in romantic relationships, it is important for friendships as well. If you don’t want to talk it out or you know there is no point in engaging the person in a dialogue, take some distance before making any hasty decisions.
Unless the person has done something egregious, a gradual unraveling may be easier on everyone involved. Do your best to leave other friends out of it and to minimize incurring your ex-friend’s wrath. Above all, be kind and try to minimize hurt feelings so you can both move on.
This article originally appeared in Marie Claire.