I started the new year by doing a segment jumping off a story I’d read in the Huffington Post about how to leave toxic relationships behind in 2018, and ended up getting some great advice from listeners about how to unfriend a “friend.”
The eight toxic personality types are ones we all recognize: the always negative Debbie Downer, the blame-shifting gaslighter, the emotionally draining “user,” the dysfunctional family member, the fault-finding “scorekeeper,” the constant critic, the “poisonous partner” and the friend you’ve outgrown.
Surprising to me: the “friend you’ve outgrown” was the most common type of toxic friend that people were looking to ditch in 2018.
LISTEN: What are the different kinds of toxic people you need to get rid of?
One listener said he had a childhood friend that he bonded with playing hours of video games. He was even the best man at his wedding.
They lost touch because while my listener went on to do “adulting” type of things, his friend kept on wanting to sit and play hours of video games.
He said he’d tried to reconnect with him from time to time, but it was the same story – you need more to bind you to someone than playing first-person shooter games.
I still found it curious that so many people would have so many friends they no longer want to be friends with. The reason, it turns out, is social media.
Since I’m not a regular user of Facebook (I’ve tended more toward the Twitterverse), I hadn’t considered that what makes social media so great at connecting people has also created new problems of how to disconnect with people you no longer want in your life.
I remember thinking in the early days of Facebook that it seemed most people I talked to wanted to reconnect with old flames and friends from junior high and high school. That may be why I never really got into it. I always wondered why anyone would want to do that.
WATCH BELOW: To friend, or not to friend: Taking a look at Facebook’s ‘Unfriend Day’
If they are an old flame they are probably no longer in your life romantically for a very good reason – why relive old heartaches? If you are in a committed relationship today, why create new heartaches?
Same thing for high school and junior high friends. If you still had a lot in common with them, you probably wouldn’t have lost touch with them in the first place.
In the olden days, you’d just stop talking with people as you changed schools, graduated, moved or switched jobs and you never had to worry about seeing them again. With Facebook, you can be connected to every person you have ever met – forever, if you want to – and it would seem, even if you don’t.
A couple of callers told me how they put the end to the insanity. One said they unfriended people by telling them that they were reorienting their Facebook more toward family. The ones they really wanted to stay in touch with they texted and told them to contact them by messenger.
Maria called in to say she and her friends have a mutual agreement to clear out the cobwebs every year: if a Facebook “friend” hasn’t had a conversation or been in touch with you in a year, then they get turfed.
It may make for a few awkward moments when you see your acquaintances again at house parties or social functions, but in the end, does someone you rarely see and never talk to really need to be told about your latest holiday or fitness program? Probably not.
So if you want to get started clearing out the toxic people in your life, start with cleaning out your Facebook page. Then you can move on to the rest of the toxic people on the list, because those ones will probably be a little tougher to cut loose.