My friends mean the world to me. I would do absolutely anything for them and never expect anything in return. To me, friends are like family and when I bring a friend into my inner circle, I think of them as friends for life.
Over the last five years, I have become MUCH more comfortable with putting an end to friendships that are no longer adding value in my life, or worse yet, promoting stress. I’m starting to look at friendships in much the same light as romantic relationships. Like a romantic relationship, the goal of a friendship is to have a friend for life. So why tolerate in a friendship what you wouldn’t tolerate in a guy?
Friends are supposed to be a source of comfort, love and acceptance. Not to mention fun. The second they become anything else, it’s time to think about letting them go. Perhaps it’s not a full break-up, but just a demotion from friend to acquaintance. Either way, life is busy, stressful and complicated enough. No need to make it worse with a toxic or negative friendship.
5 Signs That It’s Time to Let a Friendship Go
- The Effort Is One-Sided: Throughout our friendship, there is a natural ebb and flow as we take turns giving and receiving love and support in the form of listening, inviting eachother out, paying for things, etc. Healthy relationships are balanced because as humans, we want to give AND receive. So if you’re always making the effort to get together, call/text, drive, pay the tab, etc. it may be a sign that the relationship is changing.
- You Are Often Criticized: Our friends are supposed to support us and make us better. Constructive criticism when we need or ask for it is one thing, but constant generalized criticism about who we are is yet another. This does nothing but damage our self-esteem and put distance in the friendship. It’s especially problematic when the criticism is directed at actions we have taken to support our friend. I was once given a “performance review” as a Maid of Honour in my friend’s wedding after bending over backwards to make all three parts of it a smashing success. Needless to say, she is no longer in my life.
- You Don’t Have Anything in Common Anymore: As we age, we change. Duh! This poses a particular challenge for the friendships we developed when we were younger. Sometimes we grow together and our lives remain parallel, but sometimes, we lose the connection that brought us together. Our values, lifestyle and personality can all diverge. In these situations, we often try to maintain the friendships simply because of the history. But this just causes unnecessary tension and discomfort. There is no need to have a big “talk”. You can just put some distance between yourself and your friend. This often takes the pressure off and allows you to just enjoy the time you do spend together and treat it as a “catch-up” rather than a reincarnation of the friends you were those many years ago.
- You Are Their Therapist: Ok… So I know I said earlier that, as friends, we are here to support eachother. And I firmly believe and stand by that. However… When the only conversations you have with your friend are about his or her problems, it may be time to reconsider the friendship. Let’s face it… Conversations like this are draining. Sure, we all get into funks now and again and look to our friends to help pull us out. This is OK as long as it’s short-term and reciprocated. If this goes on for a longer period of time, it’s time to distance yourself. And if you’re comfortable enough, suggest that your friend seek counselling for the issues. Above all, friendships should be fun and energizing.
- She Can’t be Happy For You: There is nothing worse than finding out wonderful news, calling your friend with excitement only to have your enthusiasm flat lined by a negative comment on the other end of the line. Friends want the best for you and are your biggest cheerleaders in life. They are just as excited as you (if not more) about all the wonderful things that and every milestone you reach. If a friend is critical, judgemental or negative in these circumstances, it’s time to cut ties. There is no need to let someone bring you down under any circumstances.
As you consider this list, if a friendship comes to mind that nets negative against these signs, you know what you need to do. You just need to decide if the best way to handle it is to simply pull away or if a conversation is warranted to see if things can be improved. Whatever you decide, do it with dignity and respect for the friendship you once had and be tactful in your approach.
Remember… With every ending comes a new beginning.
Have you broken up with a friend?