Relationships make life worth living.
They give us people to share good memories with, to lean on in hard times, and to just enrich our lives in ways we can’t do on our own.
We all know that there are several kinds of friendships: coffee-date friends, acquaintances, Facebook friends, mass-Holiday text friends, close friends, best friends, and everything in between.
We also know that friendships, like all relationships, go through different phases, and sometimes they end. Friendships ending is a normal thing and sometimes it’s even for the best, but what happens when you’ve outgrown a friendship and can’t just let it die gracefully? Or what if a friendship is really bringing you down and you want out but don’t know how to leave?
Over the past few years I’ve had to make some tough decisions regarding a few friendships. There were a few friends, who when I really needed them, took off. I wouldn’t hear from them for months or a year at a time, and then they’d come back, hoping for a second chance. So I let them back in, wanting to believe the desire to reconcile was sincere, that they’d change, only to watch them do the same thing all over again.
It used to make me angry. It used to make me really sad. It used to make me wonder what was so wrong with me that they couldn’t or wouldn’t stick around.
But over time I realized that taking their behavior personally wasn’t fair to me nor was it an accurate representation of the situation. Yes, we all need to take responsibility for how we act in friendships, but sometimes it really is the other 50% of the situation that matters.
These friends weren’t bad people nor do I think they were being deliberately hurtful, they just weren’t in the same place I was when it came to valuing friendships. At that point, I think I could give more than they could, and yes it was sad, but it also doesn’t mean that I (or anyone else) should put in the time and effort it requires to sustain a good friendship when the other party doesn’t reciprocate.
Sometimes being a good friend means trying harder and sometimes it means walking away. It never means being a doormat though.
Second chances are warranted at times. Sometimes third chances. That’s for you to decide. We all have to make choices about who we are willing to have in our lives and how far we’re willing to go for them. But keep in mind that sometimes trying ad infinitum isn’t best for anyone–it drains you and it shows others that you’re willing to put up with anything.
I used to believe that being a good friend meant that I’d give them a chance as long as they wanted one, but in the end it always left me feeling used. So instead of letting people walk all over me, I started being fair about when I’d give out chances, and letting my friends know what I needed out of the friendship.
If I got it, great. If not, I was honest about it and walked away.
I realized I’d outgrown those friendships and was feeling drained far more than I ever felt fulfilled. I believe balance is important in all relationships, and sometimes the scales tip one way and sometimes they go another. If that scale is stuck on one end though, you might consider reevaluating the situation.
Let go of the friendship, wish them well (or just wish for peace for both of you), and keep moving forward.
What I realized is that when I stopped letting people walk all over me, people who viewed friendships the way I did came into my life. They were people who could give me what I needed and vice versa. They were people who could let me help them when they needed a shoulder to lean on and I knew I could count on them for the same.
It’s sad to let go of friendships, especially when you really wanted them to work out. And who knows, maybe one day they’ll show up the way you hoped they would, and maybe they won’t.
The point is, whatever you believe you deserve in life will find you. Personally, I’d rather spend my time with people who can laugh and have fun, but at the end of the day care about me enough to stick around if things get tough.