Friendships are one of the greatest things humans ever experience. While I’m not the type of person that has ever had, or wanted, a lot of friends, I’ve expressed every emotion possible with my friends. In my personal dystopic world, I have a finite amount of energy I can give to other people. While this sounds selfish, and probably is, I recognize that I can only be a good and present friend to a handful of people or acquaintances with a lot. I choose the former.
Overall, I think I’m a really good friend. I definitely have had my moments where I’ve said things I regret, been unreasonably stubborn, and kicked a friend in the shin (love you Rachel!). Outside of those things, which sound really bad in writing, I like to believe that I’m a caring, supportive, and respectful friend that can make you laugh when you are sad. Everyone has friendship faults, but generally I hope to receive the same in return from my friends. But what do I do when I feel like one of my friends isn’t giving that to me? When is it time to walk away from a friendship?
I am currently going through this situation with someone I consider a close friend, but I didn’t want my judgment to be too clouded. So I reached out to people I know that are currently or have gone through a similar situation. What were the motivating factors for them ending the relationship? Across the board we got the following themes:
- They aren’t supporting you
No one wants someone that just blindly agrees with you. There is a separate argument that that person isn’t really a friend either. You want a friend that is honest with you, but still sees the good and potential within you. Whether that’s giving you the benefit of the doubt if you are in a fight with someone else or being your sounding board and pick me up when you hit hurdles in your life goals. What makes friends great is that you can go to them without judgment, whether it’s a rant or a humble brag. You deserve that type of support.
- They make you doubt yourself and/or they make you feel bad about yourself when you are around them
I’m a naturally snarky and dry person. So friendships with me will always have a few jabs and pokes in jest. But there are definitely moments when those can go too far and make people feel bad. If you find that a remark goes too far, then say something. If you tell them this and the remarks continue or you feel like they keep discovering new ways to put you down, step away. If they are really your friend, they would stop the comments. Some people need to put others down to make themselves feel better. But you don’t need to be the punching bag.
- They don’t respect your beliefs
Whether it’s politically or religiously, if you don’t respect a friends’ beliefs you should question whether you are their friend. And vice versa. I have a friend that is an atheist. Which is perfectly fine by me and I never try to push my Christianity on her. But she regularly makes it known that she thinks religion is stupid. She’s said things to me like “I think you’re smart, but then I remember you believe in God”. While our beliefs are clearly very different, not respecting my beliefs, especially when they don’t affect her in any way, makes me feel like she doesn’t respect me as a person. Not to mention, no one likes to be called dumb. If certain political or religious beliefs make you feel bad and ashamed, or if you don’t feel you can truly respect someone else, then it’s probably best to go your separate ways. Respect is a key part of every friendship.
- They are very disrespectful to a member of your family
Lastly, we all have family issues. My family is a constant soap opera, but I love those weirdos so they’re stuck with me. What sparked the idea for this post and the fight with my friend, was a comment about people with Down’s Syndome/disabilities that inferred that they aren’t worth as much as “normal” children. Now this can be a controversial topic, and every one is entitled to their opinion, but with a brother, with a disability, and an aunt, with Down’s Syndrome, I’m clearly on one side of the matter. I’m not the target audience for negative comments about disabilities. So when a really close friend of mine said something cruel about disable people, I took it personally. Those thoughts contribute to stereotypes that my family members have had to face. And at the end of the day, my family is an extension of me. They are my foundation, so when someone insults them it’s like they are insulting my family’s choices and me. If you feel like a friend is putting down your family, or you hit a point where you realize you would feel uncomfortable bringing that person around your family, then it is probably time to walk away.
Every end is the start of a new beginning.