MAKING IT BETTER: When Do You Know It’s Time To End a Friendship?

Over the years I have received many letters from mostly women describing the betrayal of one friend or another, or of a relationship that feels one sided, or of someone feeling like she is being taken advantage of by someone she thought was a friend. In all these letters the one theme that stood out was an ambiguity around whether the relationship should be terminated and a great difficult and emotional turmoil surrounding making that decision. I often wondered if men had the same conundrum when it came to letting go of male friendships that no longer served them well. I certainly would love to hear any comments about their experiences.

One of my favourite expressions is that you teach people how to treat you; the other is that you cannot change anyone, you can only change yourself and when you do people will respond accordingly. Which means that when you make those changes within yourself, you must be prepared to accept that some people around you will not be able to deal with those changes and will either leave of their own accord or you may have to take the decision to sever contact with them? A relationship in a convoluted state that doesn’t serve you causes more damage to both parties the longer it continues.

All relationships go through difficulties and challenges which can be intense but if there is a foundation and true love, it evens out and will find a way to resolution. Friendships should be meaningful to both parties and the thought of losing a good friend must surely feel painful. This however does not mean you should accept or tolerate abuse as friendship. When seeing your friend is something you begin to dread or you find you have to distort who you are or arm yourself before you see them, I think the writing is on the wall.

Sometimes some friendships genuinely have a sell by date. Not because the relationships are bad, but simply because they have run their course and to keep fettered to them will only result in it becoming unwieldy and ultimately toxic. I am reminded of a friend I had for a few years whose company I enjoyed a lot and I felt comfortable to say we had a genuinely good friendship. I wasn’t particularly bothered that they always seemed to have some drama going on their lives that was brought to my attention and had to be catered to. I later concluded that I had set up the relationship in such a way that I almost never discussed any of my own problems. I obviously enjoyed the payoff of being the needed one. When I finally had some issues of my own I wanted to share, they struggled to be there for me, It was an uncomfortable, unfamiliar terrain for them and they would either disappear till they thought I had resolved the problem or would very quickly during our conversation turn the focus back on to them. Then one day in conversation they told me that sometimes in friendships you may choose not to be in touch for several months because that’s just how you feel and there was no telling if we would still be friends in a year. I thought that was my cue to end the friendship and there were truly no hard feelings on my part because I knew it had run its course. We had come to the end of our journey together and I can still think of them fondly today, but that is only because I didn’t try to hold on which would have eventually led to resentment and distorted my experience of the friendship. I now look back and respect and appreciate that it was a genuine friendship that had a time limit.

Friendships come and go and while some can last a life time others can make you feel like you are on a life sentence! In light of this, when do you know it’s time to call it a wrap!

From my own personal experience (which I always love to share with you!), life has taught me that its curtain call on that friendship when:

  • You struggle to be your authentic self around them
  • You feel abused, disrespected, ridiculed by them (sometimes it’s done subtly…but you know!
  • When you don’t feel supported by them
  • When you have to hide your successes and achievements from them
  • When you feel miserable around them
  • When their spouse continues to make a pass at you.
  • When they continuously make unflattering, coded, backhanded compliments to you (comments about how you dress, your makeup but never in a way that makes you feel good).
  • When you really can’t think of any value to the relationship
  • When you keep asking yourself why you are still friends
  • When you have to face the fact that you never feel good about yourself around them
  • When you feel your emotions are being manipulated (they try to make you feel guilty, to feel bad, to feel apologetic all the time no matter what the circumstances).
  • When all you can say when people ask you about the friendship are: err.., well it’s difficult to describe, or it’s rather a complicated one).
  • When after a visit if you come away thinking it wasn’t so bad today but you know it’s probably a one off. In other words you just can’t count on them.
  • When you find you are constantly passive aggressive around them (you’re hiding your true feelings, feel you can’t be honest with them,
  • When you just know deep down (gut feeling) the friendship isn’t going anywhere…its come to an end.

Good and genuine friends should not manipulate, use or pressure you. They should not make you hurt.  A true friend enhances your life, inspires you to be all that you can be and you can see and feel their excitement and joy when you do well. A real friend is someone you are look forward to see and when you leave their company your heart is filled with gratitude they are in your life.

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One Response to MAKING IT BETTER: When Do You Know It’s Time To End a Friendship?

  1. Olivia Davis February 27, 2019 at 4:12 am

    Nice topic! Ending a friendship is not that easy, but often it is necessary. For me, it’s time to call it a wrap if your friend betray your trust. I believe that trust is the foundation of any friendship. There is no friendship if there is no trust. Once this trust is broken , it’s hard to recover.


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