It’s okay to move on and focus on what is working for you, right?
We hear all the time about the benefits of removing toxic people from your life. It’s so liberating to no longer put up with the negativity, crossed boundaries, or bad feelings you get when you’re around that person. It’s okay to move on and focus on what is working for you, right?
But what if you’re the person who has been cut off?
Life is so rarely black and white and actions can be misinterpreted. It seems that sometimes a poorly timed comment can abruptly end a friendship. As a result, you could feel extremely hurt and misunderstood when someone becomes distant or no longer prioritizes being around you.
You might be tempted to create more opportunities to reconnect, say by going to events you’re both invited to, showing up at their place just to talk or drop off “stuff”, or engaging them in discussion aiming to convince them that you are not toxic and they probably just misunderstood you.
Clarifying and seeking resolution is okay, to a point. And after that point, your persistence makes the situation worse. As they say, don’t beat a dead horse. You can state your piece, and then you must let it be.
Avoid the temptation to debate. You truly don’t know all the factors that led to this decision. They could be facing medical issues, family stress, are trying to better their lives, or even be struggling with an addiction. Maybe your behaviour reminds them of someone who hurt them before.
You don’t get to decide if you hurt someone’s feelings. You might be able to clarify and apologize, but when you try too hard to convince them not to be mad at you or to deflect the blame (“it’s not my fault!”), you are ultimately telling them that your feelings and your urgent need to be forgiven are more important than their need to take care of themselves.
Think about it. If someone’s corny jokes never bothered you before, but then a series of poorly-timed and insensitive jokes started to make you feel so unhappy that you decide to spend less time around them, sometimes a good break is the one thing you need so that the relationship remains intact. If they follow you around, debate, guilt you, and pressure you to keep things the same, you will likely relent to keep the peace and come to resent them, or will block them from your life just for not respecting your wishes.
So if you’re the one getting cut off, does this make you the bad guy?
Not at all. Distance in relationships can be an opportunity for you to do some self-reflection, figure out if you’ve done anything that needs to be changed, and either make those changes or simply respect that the other person has made a decision, and your time is better spent with those who want you around.
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