Making a new friend can be one of the most rewarding things we can do in our lifetime. Friendships both enhance and enrich our lives.
Early friendships play a vital role because they occur while key developmental changes are taking place. Developing friendships not only teach us some important life skills but also shape our life “narrative.”
Some friendships can be long and enduring; adjusting to personal, environmental, emotional, and physical changes, while some friendships can be short and fleeting.
For many of us, once we develop a close friendship with someone we are often unable to fathom not having that person in our life. Based upon our current feelings of utopia we assume the friendship will last forever. However, not all friendships do.
Chances are, only a small number of friends you make in your life will become a life-long relationship. In order for friendships to both grow and survive the test of time they must adjust and adapt to many of the inevitable changes we will incur in life, i.e., maturity, career changes, marriage, children, divorce, death of a close family member, addition of other friends, health changes, etc.
Friendships, like romantic relationships, must be re-invented time and time again to accommodate the various changes we all encounter in life. Friendships should enhance and enrich our lives, adding to the quality of our lives rather than taking away or reducing the quality of our lives.
Aside from parental/familial love, friendships teach us how to build relationships with others that do not involve a close family or romantic relationship. We learn we do not have to have a relationship with this person; it is a personal choice, a choice that requires ongoing commitment and maintenance to ensure its survival.
Unfortunately, not all friendships are healthy or enrich our lives, some friendships are toxic. Toxic friendships can create feelings of sadness, animosity, resentment, etc., when the relationship does not include mutual respect, love, honesty, and commitment.
If you are starting to feel like you are not being valued, respected, or there is an unequal commitment to the relationship, it may be time to re-evaluate your friendship.
Taking a step back and looking at your friendship, recognizing both the positive and negative changes isn’t always easy. Most people will not realize a friendship will need to end only after the relationship has been irretrievably broken, they are avoiding each other, they fight more than they get along, etc.
Although, some people may recognize the friendship has ended, changed, or they have outgrown the relationship it may, be difficult to end the relationship due largely to what it once meant to the individual.
Potential Threats to Friendships Include:
- Failure to recognize contributions to friendship problems
- Inability to forgive
- Poor communication/lack of communication
- Failure to grow and adjust to changes
- Lack of mutual respect
- Failing to “agree to disagree” on some issues
Signs You May Need to End a Friendship or it Has Already Ended Include:
- He/she no longer makes time for you
- You no longer have anything in common (you have outgrown each other)
- He/she speaks negatively about you behind your back
- He/she only contacts you when they need something
- You dread the idea of spending time with them, so you avoid them
- You have developed new friendships and interests that do not include your current friend
- You say hateful things to each other
- You feel your life would be richer, better off without them
- Your friendship does not provide a supportive environment
- When you look at your friend you can no longer identify the reasons why you are still friends
Things to Consider Before Ending a Friendship Include:
- Is the friendship worth fighting for?
- Can personal adjustments improve the relationship?
- Are both parties fully committed to the relationship, can I do more to maintain the relationship?
- Have I attended to the needs of my friend?
- What do I want from the friendship that I feel I am not getting?
- Is my ego involved?
- Do I need to apologize?
- Am I being petty or overly sensitive?
- When was the last time we had real fun together?
- When was the last time we spoke openly and honestly?
- When was the last time we shared important aspects of our lives with each other?
- If we met right now would he or she be someone I could be friends with?
Ending a friendship is never easy, and it’s often the last step you want to take when you’re going through a rough patch with someone you have developed a relationship with and care about.
Despite our best intentions, trying to speak with your friend about some of the problems in your relationship doesn’t always repair the rift: Not everyone is able to listen without becoming defensive or blaming the other person.
However, it is important to remember that some frustration and disappointment is a normal part of all relationships, we will be angry with our friend or they will be angry with us at some point in the relationship.
If you are considering ending a friendship, it’s important to always remember not to end it in anger, and to think about what you want to say before you communicate with the person. Ultimately, however, if a friendship is hurting you in any way, it’s in everybody’s best interest for the relationship to come to a close—so whether it’s a toxic friendship, a one-sided one, or even a downright abusive one, it might be time to move on.