By the time we reach our 50s and 60s, we find our lives filled with an eclectic collection of friends and acquaintances. Some of us still stay in touch with people we knew as children. Most of us have at least a few high school or college buddies. We have work friends and social acquaintances, poker buddies and professional contacts.
But, did you ever think about the fact that many of our friendships are "accidental?" For most of our lives, the people that we meet are defined by our social context at the time. As a result, as we reach our 50s, we often find ourselves with people in our lives that are actually causing us more harm than good.
So, what's the big deal? Isn't it a good thing to have as many friends as possible? Absolutely not!
In talking to the other members of our Boomerly community, I am often amazed by the kinds of people that they put up with. Setting aside the extreme of physically abusive relationships, there are still plenty of people that we let into our lives that we should probably let go. In doing so, we will create space in our lives for people who would actually care about us and treat us with the love and respect we deserve.
Here are a few of the friendships that you should reconsider in your 50s.
Abusive, Toxic and Just Plain Mean People
Ironically, sometimes people that treat us badly are the ones that we are attracted to the most. This is especially true for people who are suffering from a lack of self-esteem.
Is there anyone in your life that just can't seem to say anything nice? Do you have a friend who is passive-aggressive to the point of being hurtful? Are any of your acquaintances just plain mean? If so, it might be time to start spending less time with them and more time exploring your passions and finding new connections.
Getting older affects everyone in slightly different ways. I know people in their 70s and 80s who are sky-diving, exploring the world, starting businesses and volunteering -- all the while keeping a smile on their faces.
On the other hand, I have met more than my share of people who seem to be determined to see the negative in every situation. No matter how much money they have, how many opportunities land in their lap and how hard we try to cheer them up, they just can't help complaining.
To be clear, I'm not saying that complaining is wrong all the time. Sometimes, we need a friendly shoulder to cry on when things get tough. But, is there anyone in your life who is a chronic complainer? Do you have any friends who bring you down every time you meet them? Maybe it's time to look for more positive people.
People Who Take, Take, Take
Relationships should be balanced. It's perfectly normal to ask for help from your friends from time to time. In fact, helping others is one of the best ways to increase your happiness and positivity after 50. But, that doesn't mean that it's your job to solve everyone else's problems.
Do you have any friends that make you feel like they hang out with you because of what you can do for them, not what you mean to them? Do you dread receiving calls from someone because you know that they always come with a request? You have the right to be respected as an equal with all of your friends.
Building meaningful friendships with people who share your values is essential to finding happiness after 50. But, that doesn't mean that all friends are created equal. Focusing on your true friends doesn't have to lead to drama. You don't need to confront or try to change anyone.
All you have to do is spend time with the people who truly respect and love you for who you are -- and, if you don't have enough of these people in your life, it's time to explore your passions, build your life and find new friends.
Do you agree that there are certain types of people that we should avoid spending time with, even if they have been "friends" for a long time? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.
Here are a few additional articles from Boomerly that you may find useful: