Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ex-Friend: Signs That it's Time to Let Go

I think most of us have that one "friend" in our lives that we sort've don't know why we keep. Maybe this person was a bona fide compadre at some point, but not anymore. S/he annoys you or makes you feel bad, or maybe you just don't have a single thing in common. Whatever it is, life is too short to waste each others' time. We are human and that means we grow and change over the years: your best friend since elementary school may someday be a person you want nothing to do with. And that's okay. It's in everyone's best interests that we assess our friendships every once in awhile and decide: is this person my friend or is it time to let go?

You Never "Hang Out Sometime"

We all have someone in our lives that we interact with like this: we see them at the mall or stumble across them on Facebook and say "oh my gosh, it's been so long, we need to hang out sometime!" And the person it's said to usually goes "yeah, totally!" and maybe even proposes to call you or something. It never happens. You might not even get to the Making Plans stage of the operation. These people are usually people we feel we should be interacting with because we have some sort of bond with them-- maybe you used to be close pals-- but don't actually have any genuine desire to see anymore. The sooner you admit that to yourself, the sooner you'll stop having awkward obligatory let's-hang-out conversations.

When You Do "Hang Out Sometime" You Feel Worse

I used to hang out with a girl who, whenever we were together, she'd make fun of me relentlessly-- and by "me" I mean me and my choice in men and wardrobe and various other things. By the end of our visits, I'd always feel like I'd been through some terrible ordeal. No one needs a friend who is constantly sniping at them. Once those feelings of general awfulness, of being attacked, demeaned, etc. creeps up more often than they don't, it's time to say "bye bye" for the sake of your sanity and self-esteem.

You Make Excuses for Their Behavior

 "That's just the way she is," I'd tell my other friends about Negative Friend. "It's her humor." "She's just being sarcastic." "She doesn't mean to hurt me." "Well, we really do both like these things and that's nice...." But why should you be friends with anyone who's so regularly less than pleasant that you have to start justifying their behavior? In a romantic relationship, this kind of excuse-making would go right along with that of a person who's been abused-- and that's not friendship, my friends.

They Never Put You First

We all go through stages in our lives where certain people and things aren't as important to us as others. Maybe they can't be, like if you have a new demanding job, or you're raising a child, or you have a brand new significant other that you need to bond with. There can be any number of perfectly fine reasons for putting friends on the back burner, but what is truly a sign of ex-friendship is when you're always on the back burner. My boyfriend has an ex-girlfriend who would always, 100% of the time, choose her friends over him. He never came first, and he always says that was one of the big immediate signs that their relationship would be brief and unfulfilling. We always say that girls in relationships need to remember their friends, but it goes both ways. Anyone who you're committed to-- gal pals included-- needs to be the top priority at least some of the time. If you have a friend who always puts others over you, you know s/he just isn't that into you. A true test of this is how a friend reacts when something goes very wrong in your life: the people who are willing to make time to be there for you are friends. The ones who refuse? Not so much.

You Try to Talk About it, But...

...s/he won't listen or doesn't seem to care about affecting any actual change. It's hard for anyone to fess up to their wrongdoings, but if you've got a person on your hands who just won't hear it or flat-out denies it, there's really nowhere to go from there.

Have you ever had to let a friend go? What was it like? Do you feel it was the right decision?


Zmaga said...

You are seriously reading my mind. I am planning to break up with a friend for quite some time, and I always postpone it. These are our symptoms... it sucks. But, you didn't say how do we let go? Or am I asking for too much?

Reverend Awesome said...

These past few posts it's like you are in my head!
The symptoms are all there. I don't know how to break it off with them other than just not even pretending we get along anymore.

Sydnie said...

Ugh, this is the worst feeling ever! I've been there, done that. Wish I could have read this post sooner ... it would have helped me a lot! :) Thanks!


Bee said...

I had a friendship that ended very badly. People took sides, I ended up depressed for a year, and it was just an awful ordeal. Then after the whole fiasco, for some reason I decided I would try to hang out with her again and it was awful. She made me feel very insecure and I think she just intimidated me. When we met up I instantly started thinking, "My hair looks awful compared to hers, I don't have enough make-up on, my outfit isn't as cute as hers, etc." I haven't spoken to her in a while, and we never run into each other and I think its definitely for the best! People change and it is okay!

-- Bee

Anonymous said...

I recently let go of a friend who always made me feel horrible. Admittedly, it did help that I skipped town and moved 10 hours drive away. However, my other friends back in Auckland have finally woken up to her bad behaviour and have broken ties with her too. It's such a relief not having someone constantly putting you down, excluding you and talking behind your back - the rest of my friends are all above such nonsense and we like it that way!

Susan said...

I broke up with a friend that I once considered a "bestie". We did everything together. But as time went on, I found myself making excuses for her behavior to my other friends "that's just who she is" and they finally convinced me to talk to her about it- she didn't listen and didn't change. I felt like a second-class citizen next to her. And when we finally broke up, it was messy and horrible. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about how it could have ended differently, but all I come to a conclusion about it that it couldn't have ended differently. She didn't react well to the fact I no longer wanted to be her friend and she spread terrible rumors about it. Anyway, I feel better now that she isn't in my life, but wish it wouldn't have been as messy. But I suppose we really can't pick how someone is going to react...

Samantha and Nathan said...

I have a terrible habit of not just burning my bridges, but dropping bombs on them. I don't mean to, but it constantly happens. There was one friendship that I ended up mututally ending with a friend over a very personal matter that was supposed to stay between my boyfriend and I. She not only found out from his mom and chastised me for doing something she didn't like, but told all of our mutual friends how terrible I was. I of course was at college attempting to finish up my first quarter and my grandfather had just died. I decided that when she called me to talk about how "stupid and selfish" I'd been I was going to stand up for myself. Because of her, I didn't have a friend in the world at home. My mom still gets upset about it, but I think now, that I'm so far removed from it, I don't really care anymore- visits home are for family. Those friends weren't very good anyway and I won't leave myself open to that kind of hurt anymore.

Now that my boyfriend and I are getting married, my boyfriend's mother wants to invite her family (including her) to the reception. Since his mom is funding it, I wrote out the invitation but I can't decide if I actually want her to come. On one hand I would like her to come since she was my boyfriend's best friend and worked really hard for us to date and I'd really like her to see that we did turn out okay, and on the other hand, I think she'd have a lot of nerve to show her face there. I wouldn't want her self righteous attitude ruining a day that is supposed to be about he and I.
However, I hate to end things on a terrible note, so I need to figure out if it would be kosher to actually sort things out with her or would it be a waste of my time?

Laells said...

I've had to do it a few times. The worst friendship breakup was the last and it has taken what feels like forever to not feel so hurt by what was done to me in the situation.

I forced myself to write her a forgiveness letter last week and I apologized for anything that I may have done along the way too.

I haven't heard anything back but I've felt better about doing it and I've found that as the days go by I don't really care if she ever messages me back or anything.

I just find that it really hurts when friends backstab or treat you crappy even moreso than your family or whatever because you actually choose your friends. It makes me personally question my judgement for a while.

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