4. You genuinely don't like each other anymore. The truth is that people change. Life events, stress, age and time all have an impact on how we see the world and how we choose to behave. Sometimes our values diverge and we lose our connection. When that happens, it's important to consider if we're staying with the friendship out of choice or obligation.
If you can honestly say that you no longer care for your friend anymore, it's okay to be honest about that change and make choices that reflect this new perspective. Chances are that if you feel this way that your friend has a sense that something is amiss also. There's no requirement that you have a "big talk," sometimes simply backing away is enough. But, if you feel the need to have the talk, try to remember points two and three above and be honest yet kind.
5. Your life feels calmer, happier and more alive without them. When two people struggle to understand where their friendship is headed, often there are periods of time when they don't communicate as much. During these breaks, ask yourself if you're happier or less stressed without your friend? Sometimes the answer is a resounding "yes" and in those cases, the writing is on the wall.
But what about situations where your friend has fallen into a self-destructive pattern that you hope will change? Sometimes relief comes when you simply accept that it's not your responsibility to fix your friend, and that until they decide to take action all you can do it wait and pray. Perhaps in this case what you really need is a break and not a breakup.
Toxic friendships can truly be harmful to everyone involved. As you consider this list, if the friendship that you have in mind comes up as a net negative, then it's clear what you need to do. All that's left is to decide how you want to back away and if a conversation is necessary.
Remember that each ending makes room for a new beginning. Fear of walking away from a toxic friendship only keeps you both stuck and stunts your growth. On the other hand, finding the courage to explore difficult questions ultimately raises the bar and redefines the kind of friendships that are worth your time, energy and love.
Originally published on The Huffington Post.