With the year coming to an end, I have started my annual assessment and reflection. Was my year eventful? What things do I want to change in the coming months? A lot has changed for me this past year and my annual assessment is going to be centered on which friendships I want to maintain, and which ones I am ready to let go of. My idea of friendship may differ from yours. I have two long time friends whom I rarely see. One lives on the other side of the country, and the other is in a different place in her life than me. But does that make us any less of friends? I don’t think so. We put in an effort to talk and see each other, but geography can make that hard. It pops into your head to call someone, and before you know it, you’ve moved onto something else and have forgotten all about it. Or you look at the time and remember that you’re in a different time zone. Things come up, but when we do get to talk or spend time together, its like no time has passed. It’s like we saw each other yesterday. We might look older and maybe even different in some way, but the friendship has endured the test of time.
With so many friendship quotes and memes online, it isn’t difficult to know what friendship is. Or is it? Like any relationship, one with a friend can be difficult. It may be easy to express your emotions and feelings to your partner, but not to a friend. If your romantic relationship isn’t working, you take steps to end it. So why is it hard to break up with a friend? In life, I need specifics. Specific instructions when you want me to do something and details when you’re asking for advice. I don’t read between the lines very well. Which can lead to awkward situations. If you’re like me, it can be difficult to know when your friend is ghosting you, or when she is just busy. Here are some things to think about when considering ending a friendship:
You don’t spend any time together.
Whether she has stopped making time for you, or you are digging in your heels out of spite. A sure fire way to know that a friendship isn’t working out is by the amount of time you spend together. Every situation is different. If you don’t live near each other, or she is extremely busy with work or family, take these things into consideration. But if you used to hang out 3-4 times a week, and now you barely see her, it might be time to end the friendship.
You no longer have anything in common.
At some point in your friendship, you had something in common. Maybe it was your shared love for NSYNC? Does the death of the band mean that your friendship dies also? Not necessarily. Presumably, your friendship started with a shared interest and then grew from there. But if that’s not the case, you need to assess whether you want to find new interests to share together. Being different doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, but you do need to have some shared commonality, or you will feel like you’re talking to yourself.
You’re putting in all the effort.
Are you the one always coordinating plans? Or sending text messages to say hello? If you feel like the other half of the friendship is not putting in the same amount of effort, ask yourself if that’s fair. Again, things come up and we don’t always have the same time for friends, but there is nothing more frustrating than a one sided friendship. Do you want to be “that girl”?
Finally, your encounters are awkward.
In my opinion, the true test of a friendship is when you can go months without contact and feel like not a day has gone by. If on the other hand, you meet for dinner and sit silently as you enjoy your fettuccine alfredo, this friendship probably isn’t for you. Awkward conversations usually mean you don’t know what’s going on in the other person’s life. Or you’re afraid to ask the question. Knowing the difference between time and space is key here. One tends to create more distance than the other.
Not all of these signs mean that your friendship is over. They simply mean that you either need to commit to the friendship, or call it’s death. Friendships are complicated and only you will know the difference between your friend being busy because of a job promotion, or if she’s ghosting you. A friendship doesn’t necessarily have to end on bad terms. Sometimes we grow in different directions, and no matter how hard we try, the friendship can’t be sustained. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Not all friendships are meant to last forever and those that do are very precious.
In 2017, I will be assessing some of my friendships. How can I improve them? Or is it time to let the relationship rest in peace? None of this will be easy as you don’t want to think that your friendship has failed. Try to look at it in a positive light. You had a great time with this person, and they enhanced your life somehow. Moving onto a new friendship, doesn’t mean that the old one didn’t exist. Knowing what is important in life will give you some perspective on this journey.