Letter to a Toxic Friend

I would be lying if I said I had not rewritten this letter repeatedly. Mulling over and over what I would like to say, balancing it against what you will read. I should have called you out each time I recognized your toxic behavior, rather than waiting to pile it on you now with little more than a “good luck!” I thought I would have an easier time talking to you if I gave my anger time to subside. But I calmed down, and yet I remained silent. I apologize for waiting so long to say this to you, I do not think I did that right.

Regardless, it’s time to call you on your bullshit.

You hold value as a living being in my society, as a person in my life who was a friend, and as a fellow queer person navigating a fucked-up world that is more likely to do our kind harm than help us thrive. You are like me and many other queers, we’ve all got a lot going on, #adulting to do, we’ve all got shit from our past, and we’ve all got to figure out how to do/be more to fight the systems that oppress us.

It is not necessary for you to live in the cycle of abuse that you were raised in. I fear feeding your self-loathing will only cause damage to yourself and those who love you. I watched you exemplify toxic masculinity through grandstanding and showboating, boundary-pushing, and manipulative power plays. You fed a martyrdom to justify the rest.

I caught your many good behaviors and tried to highlight those. You pay attention to people and determine what they like, and you are usually spot on. You are willing to offer gifts in a world where it has become a lost art. You spend time with friends and in a variety of situations that have reached out for your support. You express a desire to be better, to be more aware of the world you live in and the experiences of others that are trying to navigate it with you.

You tell me repeatedly about how the people in your past relationships (whether it be family, partners, or friends) have betrayed or abandoned you. And then you start new relationships only to turn around and tell me that the same thing is happening yet again. I perceive a troubling trend. You’re falling into old patterns potentially without even being aware of it.

By your data points, no matter what you try, other people do you wrong. Every new person is a source of pain to you – dismissed with jokes about you being a creep or you not having the right skills to “human” well. Maybe you seek those types of people to fulfill your self-destructive prophecy. I see no effort on your part to stop the abuse. You show no accountability for your actions, and you are constantly the victim.

My intention is not to shit on you and walk away. Maybe you don’t give a fuck about my intentions, and that’s fine. I hope you’re still reading and I certainly anticipate that some of this matters to you. You deserve to make things better for yourself and are the only person who can.

If you want to work on changing your behaviors, great. If not, I will not be the last friend you push out of your life. You cannot feed this narrative of “the only victim” to all these malicious people out to harm you and simultaneously maintain you are not worthy of meaningful connection. You’re maliciously deceiving yourself and it’s going to cost you everything.

You have a lot of work ahead if you’re going to integrate all the disparate and damaged parts of yourself into a whole person. But you are only lonely because you keep pushing everyone away. You deserve to have healthy friendships and partnerships that bring joy and fulfillment. You do not need toxic behavior and an offensive posture toward others. It’s not protecting you. You can have your needs met without engaging in cycles of abuse.

It’s not about finding a better partner, it’s about being a better partner. You have years of sludge slowing down the engine of your emotions. No one can overhaul it except for you.

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