I sat in a coffee shop, scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I stumbled upon a picture of him picking flowers with a group of friends, and I wasn't included. This was yet another outing that I was not invited to. I contemplated our friendship, how we met, what we talked about, and how the relationship made me feel. I discovered in that moment that our friendship no longer served my needs.
Psychologists say that relationships are the most prized component of our lives. Our lives are meaningless without family, friends, and people to socialize with. We're socialized as children to think that we're only valuable people if we have friends. Otherwise we we're mocked on the playground for eating our lunches solo and playing by ourselves. We began to develop intimate relationships with friends and lovers as we grew into adults, yet most of us never had a formal education in the acquisition and retention of healthy, loving, caring, and reciprocal relationships.
We enter into friendships because we hope to get something out of it. That something may be company, validation, or feelings of being valued. These are reasons to enter into a relationship, but we often forget to assess these elements after we've been in the relationship for more than a few months.
Maybe we're no longer invited out to grab drinks after work, we rarely get asked to go out to the club on the weekend, or maybe all our friends do is gossip when we hang out. The substance in the relationship fizzles and we're left feeling empty. This is the point that we begin to agonize about whether or not the relationship actually serves us. Then the question arises, "Is it time to end this friendship?"
Before we answer that question, we need to understand what we value in friendships. For some of us, it's the elements already mentioned: company, validation, or feelings of being valued. However some of us value attention, connection, reciprocity, words of affirmation, touch, or gifts. We all value different elements in our friendships, and whatever we value is neither right or wrong.
After we identify what we value, we need to seek out friends who fulfill those requirements. This doesn't mean we have to turn away people who don't fit our friendship values, but it does mean that we need to filter friendships before we invest too much time and energy into the relationship. Otherwise we run the risk of being in a sour friendship.
To answer the original question, it's essential to know when it's time to end a friendship. It's time to end a friendship for one of the following reasons:
1) The friend does not meet our core values and standards. Friends need to meet the our relationship values and standards. When we befriend people who do not align with our values, we tend to fall into situations that feel uncomfortable. This is not a pleasant way to spend our time. Instead, we need to be deliberate when picking friends to begin with and we need to know when to end the friendship as soon as we become aware that the relationship doesn't align with our values and standards. This takes self awareness and self-esteem to understand and put into practice. It's not self-righteous or selfish to have standards, it's actually smart and admirable. So don't feel guilty about having standards.
2) The friend doesn't care about you. It's pretty obvious whether or not a friend cares about you. Good friends show an interest in your life and want to spend time with you. When these actions are not reciprocated and you're pulling teeth to keep the friendship going, that's a sure tale sign that it's time to let the relationship go.
3) The friend betrays your trust. The best friendships are trustworthy and reliable. They follow through on their promises and their plans. When friends ignore you and stop showing interest, it's time for them to realize that they've lost your trust. It's not worth your time and energy to be with people who betray you. You're too special to be someone else's afterthought. Good friends will make you a priority.
4) The friend doesn't make you feel good. When you hang out with a friend and they speak negatively, or they talk about topics that make you feel bad, that's a sign that it might not be a good relationship to be in. We deserve to feel amazing when we spend our precious time with other people outside of work, so don't waste it on people who don't make you feel good.
These are just a few signs that it may be time to leave a friendship behind. It may be difficult to leave a friendship behind to take care of your own emotional needs, but you need to realize you're doing it for the betterment of your own sanity and self love. You will be a stronger person when you're confident enough to end a friendship that no longer serves you. You'll discover that your true friendships and relationships are the ones that bring you happiness, joy, and fulfillment.
Max DuBowy is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Self Care for ambitious adults who are ready to break free from stress, anxiety and past hurts. Are you ambitious and ready to fall in love with yourself? INSTANTLY DOWNLOAD A COPY OF HIS FREE GUIDE HERE.