Preventing Toxic Waste

Posted on September 21, 2010


Toxic Waste.

It’s what happens when you allow Frenemies and Change-Back attacks to dictate what is best for your love life. If you’ve identified Frenemies in your life, then it’s time for you to develop a plan to deal with them.

Although the term ‘Frenemy’ is reminiscent of adolescent girls, the Frenemy exists in every social circle. Young, old, male or female, there are always bound to be some people in your life who just don’t have your best interests at heart. When you start moving forward and making some positive changes, it will quickly become apparent who these people are.

But what do you do about them?  you’re wondering, which is why I’ve provided you with some tips. I’ve listed them in order from least severe to most severe, so you can work your way down the line, if that’s what you’d like to do. (If someone is dealing with a true Frenemy, I almost always advise them to take step #3. Some folks feel that’s too harsh at the get-go.)

1. Make sure you’re actually dealing with a Frenemy, and not a temporarily jealous or insecure friend. (See here if you need help with this).

2. Put some distance between you and the Frenemy. Let’s say you usually go out with this person 2-3 times a week. Cut it down to once a week or once every other week and see if that helps. By this time, you should have already addressed your Frenemy’s unsavory behavior. Putting some distance between the two of you may help them realize that you were serious.

3. Still feel toxic? Put a LOT of distance between you and the Frenemy. By this I mean, cut them out of your life.  See them as little as possible, respond only with polite overtures if they do find a way to contact you, become extremely busy (if you get my drift) and start ignoring emails, texts and phone calls. Most people, after several weeks of this, will get the hint and go find some other people to frenemize.

4. Every so often, you’ll get a Frenemy who just won’t let go of you.  You ignore their messages. Then they start calling you at all hours of the day. You stop talking to them and they come and “visit” you at work or your favorite hang-out spot. In this rare situation (which does happen with some of the more unstable Frenemies), you’ll have to calmly explain that you no longer wish to socialize with this person. This is a pretty difficult thing to do face-to-face, so I’d advise you to state your position in writing.

You can write your Frenemy a letter or an email explaining why you feel that you can longer be “friends” with them. Reference your earlier confrontation, where you asked them to stop their behavior and then cite the instances of their continued behavior. (You do this not to defend yourself but to show the Frenemy you’ve been paying attention). Then state that you no longer wish to have them in your life.

If that feels too final, you may want to say something like: At this time, I don’t feel I can hang out with you because of your behavior.

That leaves the door open for the future I guess, but quite frankly, I can’t see the reason why you’d want to encourage the creation of any more toxic waste. Especially because you’ve worked so hard to change your life.

“All of this sounds well and good,” a client recently told me, “If I’m just dealing with a friend who I can choose not to see. But what if the Frenemy behavior is coming from a family member? A parent, even?”

In that case, a more complex strategy is required. I’ll discuss some possible ways to combat Frenemy family members later on this week.

Posted in: Change, Frenemies