Friendships are usually loving relationships with urban family members of your choosing. However sometimes they do grow stale and even toxic. Earlier today, I sent a link to a friend about an article online that I thought she would find comically introspective. Although I sent the article with good intentions, she got quite incensed. It used to be that she would laugh at something like this, and not take it so personally, but now she sees it as an attack—and I’m probably mothering and smothering, as I’m wont to do. Both of us have changed along the way, and neither of the women we have become inside the friendship are the women who entered it. We’ve evolved. We are at the point of toxicity. We’ve grown past our need for each other. So the question begs to be asked: what do you do when you’ve found yourself outgrowing a friend?
Like a romantic relationship, a good friendship is a partnership. They should bring out your best, help you shadow your dark to the public, and help you tailor or fix these things in private. You’re not necessarily agreeing to go in half and half, but you do have to ebb and flow with what life brings to this coupling. Someone once told me that kindred spirits find you when they are needed and then when they no longer are, they leave you. They might come find you in other lives (whether you’re a faithful person or a spiritual person, we all think that we will find people again that mean a lot to us). The big question for today is: when is the time to leave people in this lifetime?
We often think about how to update and improve our romantic relationships. Couples go to counseling in extreme situations, but successful couples continually strive to make the relationship new or constantly evolving. In today’s society, where we are in consistent endurance to make our own selves better, and our romantic relationships better, the same society that applauds and reveres “friendship comedies” like Sex and the City, Friends, Will and Grace, and How I Met Your Mother, why are we NOT investing more time into friendships?
Have you found that you’re sort of ignoring or avoiding a friendship? Maybe you’re not reaching out to the friend at this moment because the person no longer serves you. And that’s OK. Really. People come and go in our lives. Humans are constantly growing, adapting, and making changes with our lives and where our journey is taking us. This really is ok. Change in friendship is bound to happen when you’re upgrading and updating your life. So what do you do when this happens?
Friendships have to be whatever suits both of you. At the beginning it could just be a mutual shoulder to cry on and bitch to, but understand that you’ll need to grow and adapt as you both grow and change as people. When the friendship starts feeling labored, or even if you’re just simply not as excited as you once were to see the person, then its time to rethink your friendship formula, or even walk away. Not a bad thing. Change isn’t always bad. Adapting your friendship to your lifestyle is something that does exist. Sometimes its natural or unneeded, if you’re lucky, and the friendship just adapts itself.
Taking a break isn’t always detrimental, either. Lesley and I met at work, many different life choices ago. Dramatic things happened; I changed jobs, Lesley moved up in the company. We stayed friends, but weren’t as close because our friendship was built into our work lives. Lots of things happened in between. I do think that Lesley and I grew out of each other, and then grew back in. I don’t think I ever got tired of Lesley (and I’m not writing this because I know she’s reading and editing it) but we truly just grew away from each other. Because I listened to where life was taking me, it led me back to her at a moment that we both needed the support—A Boomerang Friendship, Lesley has dubbed this phenomenon.
Know that sometimes people come into our lives and accomplish what they need to and then move on. Like anything else in life, change and adapt to what you’re thrown. Feel free to keep in touch with as many people as you care to on social media, but know that the real friendships are those that both sides invest in and make a priority in life. If you’re not making someone a priority, or enjoying your time, then its time to evaluate, try to fix, and possibly let go. Its alright. Change happens. Breathe and let go. A forced friendship is never a good friendship. If you’re lucky, friendships just work, but sometimes you do have to work at a friendship. Evaluation and evolution are never a bad thing to stop and do. A good friend will be there to support change, not add to the aggravation of it!
Friendships are hard. Cell phones, Internet, and social media allow a little more assistance with friendships, but they don’t do the work for you, they just make it easier to connect. In a way, these technological advancements have made us even lazier at friendship cultivation. You have to work at friendships. You have to check up on people and invest in them to have them invest back. A successful friendship isn’t a two way street every day, but you have to get back a good amount of what you put in order to remain devoted. You just have to understand what you put in isn’t always the same thing you’ll get back. Make sure that your friendships are still working and are serving your current life. Friendships aren’t always fun, but they should never, ever be labored or make you feel bad about yourself or your life choices. Evaluate yourself in your friendships—are you getting as much as you would like in return? Is it you or the friend? If a friend is driving you crazy, evaluate the relationship and maybe take a break. Otherwise, you might keep trucking down past the point of no return. Like any good relationship, a good friendship brings out the best in ourselves. If you’re not seeing your best, you’re not in the right relationship anymore.