Friends come into our lives at different stages, and for so many different reasons. Some friends are our confidantes. Others are those who share our passions or our hobbies. Others are strictly there because they are fun and they make us laugh, and they always seem to change our moods no matter how lousy our day is going.
But as we get older, we start to re-evaluate our friendships. And their true quality. Unlike when we were younger, we do not have the time nor the inclination to speak daily, see our friends once or twice a week, etc. We no longer need our ‘posse’. The mere thought of this is exhausting, and completely unrealistic for most people. We become immersed in our children and partners and our careers.
So when is it alright to decide that a friendship has run its course? Is it really possible for a friendship to just fade, especially when you have known this person for years and years?
Friendships are supposed to enhance our lives in some way. Unlike our family, friends are chosen. So shouldn’t we choose to surround ourselves with people who make us happy?
If a friendship is no longer fulfilling, it’s time to take stock and evaluate its purpose.
I ask myself the following questions when deciding if a friendship is meant to go on, or if it is destined to have the plug pulled.
Friends – Continue or Pull the Plug?
1) Is there anything I can do to be more thoughtful in this friendship? Is this enough? Am I the reason that this friendship is falling apart? Have I dropped the ball somewhere? If I have, do I care enough to change my behavior?
2) Do I really understand what my friend needs from me? Am I prepared or able to provide it? Or does she only contact me when she needs something from me? Life gets busy. But is my friend only contacting me when she wants to complain about her husband or her job, or to let me know everything I am doing wrong? Does she reciprocate when I need her?
3) What do I really want from this friendship? Have I really thought through what this friendship means to me? Perhaps my needs have changed over time, and time spent with this person is no longer fulfilling. I do a lot of soul searching in order to discover exactly what it is I am trying to hold on to, and figure out if this effort is worthwhile.
4) Does she comprehend what it is I need from her? Have I been really able to verbalize to my friend what it is I need from her? Is she able to listen to constructive criticism or does she become completely defensive with me? Is she sensitive to me or is she just allowing me the courtesy of talking? Although no relationship is ever perfect and the balance often goes back and forth, there does need to be equilibrium. If one friend always feels the pressure to make the relationship work, without any perceived effort from the other side, then the relationship is not going to withstand time.
The truth is this: Real, true friends are there for each other.
They make time for you. They do not put you on hold. You can feel how they feel about you by the efforts that they make over time. If you are not feeling it anymore, it’s time to let it go.
And if you do decide to terminate a friendship, make sure you do it in the most respectable way. ‘Breaking up’ by email, voicemail or avoidance is not the way to handle these types of situations. Make sure your conscience is clear by allowing your friend the courtesy of a conversation to talk about it and answer any questions that she may have. And then you move on. It’s as simple as that.
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