how to be patient: 5 tips for staying calm now
best friends forever?: lessons on friendship (part III)

best friends forever?: lessons on friendship (part II)



"Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you;
be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them."

W. Clement Stone

 

As you may have read in "Best Friends Forever?: Lessons on Friendship (Part I)," I've been struggling a lot lately with one of my friendships. This particular friend and I have had our ups and downs, but lately I've started to wonder whether there were more downs than ups. Or, rather, the downs were much lower than the ups were high. That being said, anyone who has ever been in this type of situation knows how hard it is to end a friendship. It's different -- harder, in some ways -- than a break-up with a significant other is, especially when you've spent a great deal of your formative years with this person. 

You see, with friendships, you're dealing with someone you've shared everything with (even the most embarrassing things, even details about your romantic life). You're dealing with a person who has probably see you at your god-awful worst, someone who knows the best of you and the worst of you. You're also dealing with someone who you obviously click with in some important way. It's not all that easy for most people to find close friends, so the thought of losing one can be terrifying.

Ending a relationship with a friend is something many people don't have to think about doing; it often just happens gradually -- two people drifting away slowly as their lives change. People change and grow and often they grow apart. That's okay and completely normal. What doesn't feel all that normal is when you encounter a situation in a friendship where you're wondering, "Is this worth it? Is the hurt I'm feeling worth the friendship I'm saving?" 

Those are the big questions. The change-your-life questions. Because, let's face it, friends have a huge impact on our lives. Whether you realize it or not, the friendships you have shape who you are. That old saying "you are who you hang out with" really does ring quite true. Which is why it's really important to evaluate your friendships and determine who you want to spend your time with. Life is short and you should surround yourself with people who bring you up, who make you happy, who strive to make you the best you that you can be. 

Unfortunately, you might find, as I have a time or two, that a friend just isn't doing those things for you. S/he is hurting you, bringing you down, causing you pain. You might realize this, but you might also share good times with that person. Ups and downs are normal, but when the downs are lower than the ups are high, it's time to move on. Here's how you know when it's time to go:

 

Should I End This Friendship?: Must Ask Questions

 

Does your friend act in a way that embarrasses or hurts you?

Does your friend put you in uncomfortable situations?

Does your friend leave you feeling emotionally drained?

Does your friend bring out the worst qualities in you?

Does your friend make you feel de-valued as a person? 

Does your friend create negative emotions (anger, hate, envy)?

Does your friend encourage you to take part in harmful activities?

Does your friend treat you with disrespect and unkindness?

Does your friend put zero effort into the friendship?

Does your friend seem to be in constant competition with you? 

Does your friend make you feel smothered and confined in any way?

 

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you're probably in a toxic friendship and it's probably in your best interest to get out of that friendship as soon as you can. Of course, it won't be easy. Breaking up a relationship of any kind never is easy, but it's something that must be done if you want to live a positive life and enjoy the present moment. Being positive means being around people who bring you up -- and if you answered yes to the questions above, you're not with someone who is bringing goodness into your life. Here are some tips for how to make the end easier: 

 

5 Tips for Ending a Friendship


1. Create some space.
The first thing you should do when you know a friendship needs to come to an end is give yourself some space. Don't make plans with your friend and find other things to do when s/he makes plans with you. Space will help you get some perspective and make the break-up easier. It might be hard to do at first, but it will get easier with time. 

2. Be open and honest. If at all possible, be honest with your friend. Explain to him or her why you can no longer spend time together. This is a very hard thing to do, but honesty really is the best policy. At the very least, be open and honest with yourself as to why you're ending the friendship. You should be well aware of why this relationship didn't work so you can avoid trouble in future friendships. 

3. Spend time with others. Losing a friend can be very painful, so while you're letting go, it's important to spend time with other people who bring you up. Don't waste time talking about your old friend; instead, focus on the present and do enjoyable activities with those who are positive influences on you. It won't completely heal the sadness you feel, but it will certainly help you. 

4. Focus on you. Realize that this friendship has ended (or is ending) because you have recognized the importance of having positive, uplifting people in your life. By choosing to end a toxic relationship, you are showing yourself love. As you're struggling with the end of the friendship, focus on the good things about yourself and treat yourself with kindness. 

5. Allow yourself to be hurt. There's no denying it: losing a friend sucks. It's a really tough thing to go through (sometimes even harder than a break up!) and it's okay to be hurt. Allow yourself to feel upset, hurt, sad. Feeling the loss is okay and perfectly normal. Allowing yourself to feel down is the first step to getting back on your feet again. 

 

Ending a friendship can be one of the hardest experiences. Just getting to the point when you realize it needs to end is difficult enough, but actually ending it -- and dealing with the emotional aftermath -- can be devastating. Coming soon in "Best Friends Forever?: Lessons on Friendship (Part III)," I'll tackle the issue of how to cope with the loss of a friendship. 


Have you ever had to end a friendship? If so, how did you go about it? 
Feel free to share your ideas, suggestions, and resources
on friendship in the comments section below!  

Comments

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It sometimes takes a long time to remove a bad influence or energy-draining person from your life. More power to the people who are able to accept their own worth and move on from bad relationships!

Thanks Dani, great article on a complex subject.
Be brave! I think I’d need this one in the ending friendship tips. Even if I logically knew without a doubt that ending it was best, I’d still struggle to actually do it! It would mean I’d have to instigate it and then deal with the consequences of my actions in ending it. It’s so tempting to avoid but it’s important to realise the cost if you don’t.
I did this once, it was a tough decision and even tougher to follow through as there was so much invested in it. If I look back on it, yes the guilt can still sting a little, but I overwhelming know it was the right decision. I am actually incredibly proud of myself for doing so because I had to be brave, and brave enough to do it for me. My life became so much better for it.
Don’t wait! If things are bad between you- do something, don’t wait until you’re really suffering to take action.
Be Gentle! I have to really hype myself up and force myself to say things I’d rather avoid. When I finally speak all the tension comes out in my delivery and the poor other person doesn’t know what’s hit them. So it’s important to think about the other person and say what needs to be said gently and compassionately, because no matter what’s happened between you, a separation they may cause them much hurt too.
I loved the ‘Must Ask Questions’, really useful scope of considerations. But also good for a bit of self-reflection as I started to ask myself did I possess any of those traits and was there anything I could improve! Of course I had none, but so glad you didn’t put ‘delusion’ on this list…

((Ps. I’m still working on being concise- thanks so much for previous comment!))

Emilie - It really can take awhile to get to the point where you are ready to let go of a person who is draining you emotionally. Unfortunately it's a hard thing to do and that's probably why so many people put it off. But it's definitely something that must be done if one wants to live a positive life.

Rachel - Being brave is a great tip to add to this article. It's very hard to let go and to stand up for yourself sometimes, and it absolutely requires bravery to step back and realize that someone is not a positive influence on your life. And I loved your comment about looking at the questions from the perspective of yourself. I'm going to take a closer look at them from that point of view. Thanks for your thoughts! I really enjoy reading your comments!

A dear friend and I took a 3 year break, and just recently re-connected. I feel delighted about this turn of events.

From my experience, I personally needed space because I couldn't be as emotionally available back then as I needed to be. Now, I do have the time and energy to be available. And I get a lot out of the relationship too.

My point is, these things are rarely black and white, as you no doubt know. And just because you "break-up" with your friend now, doesn't mean you'll never reconnect. After all, there was something there for you at one time.

Boatlady - Thanks for sharing your experience! You've raised a great point -- that sometimes it's really a break, not a break-up, that we need. It's important to look at the big picture of a friendship. Thanks for bringing that up. So true!

I am soo happy i read this.. I feel so much better now.. I've been suffering a lot for the lost of a friendship that made me very happy for many years. I do agree with you in the sense that sometimes it's harder than a break up. What really hurt's me is the fact that my friend didn't try to fix our friendship... We were roommates, went to the very same classes at college and work in the same place... I mean we were together 24 hours a day 5 days a week, that was so uncomfortable and was killing me. Right now we don't live together but i see her every day and even though she looks ok and has a new "best friend" i haven't accepted the fact that it is over and in a certain way i can't forgive her for doing this and forget everything we had together. Anyways i just wanted to THANK YOU for your thoughts,those really helped me, i'm seeing things different and trying to accept that the friendship is over.
(sorry if i made horrible mistakes, i'm not an English speaker:P)

Karlita - I'm so happy this post resonated with you. Losing a friendship can be so hard to deal with so I hope you know you're not alone. It's especially difficult in a situation like yours where you still have to see the person all the time. I'm so glad that you found this post. Hopefully Part III, which will focus on how to deal with the loss of a friendship, will also be helpful for you.

Thank you for this post. it is just what I needed. I have been in a cycle of a difficult friendship for a while now and I have recently decided I have had enough of it. It was hard to let go because we would have periods of talking frequently, seeing each other, then not speaking at all, and then sometimes things would pick up again like normal, but at times she made me feel like a 2nd rate friend, and did some hurtful things. But, for a number of reasons, I need a lot more consistency in my friendships. I realize things change through time but I couldn't take how my friend was treating me anymore. I did talk about the issues I had with our friendship exactly a year ago. But the same stuff continues and it's pointless for me to say it again. She's been like this way for quite a while and i'm just beginning to be realize I refuse to be treated like this anymore. Our relationship for the most part recently has been much more hurtful than helpful to me. Friendships change and that's okay, they're not meant to drag on forever. But I think if I've communicated to her my expectations, and she's not able to meet them consistently, it's okay for me to disappointed in her/our friendship, but it's no longer okay for me to let myself be treated this way. I'm sick of this cycle and it's negative energy, I've spent soo much time being upset about pondering this situation. I'm finally happy to move on to new friendships, good friends, without continuing to devote time to this hurtful relationship.

Thanks again this is just what I need to keep in mind :)

Val - You're welcome! Whenever you feel like you're not a priority in a friendship, it can be really difficult. And consistency is really important too. You don't want to feel as if you are edge with your friends. No matter what, it's not okay for you to be treated poorly or to be surrounded by negative people. I'm happy to hear that you're moving on and focusing on the positive people in your life!

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