To last, or not to last? That is the question.
What is a friend?
Is it someone with whom you have a strong liking or trust with? Is it someone with whom you have mutual interests or affection? Is it just someone we have known for a long time? Or is it as simple as you call them a friend just because of the person they are?
That is all well and good. But what happens if it all goes wrong? What happens when that friendship deteriorates. What happens when it breaks down completely?.
How do we choose friends?
Friends choose each other. It is a natural progression in life. We meet someone and decide to be friends.
Why do we become friends?
Maybe it is similar likes and dislikes. Maybe it is a common set of experiences. Maybe it’s about balancing life. You may be no good at something, that your friend is amazing at. You help each other out. It might be a career friendship that develops. But whatever it is that we find in common, it is usually the basis for binding that friendship together.
Different types of friends.
There are several different friendship types.
Friends that you have known for many years. I have friends that I have known for as long as I can remember. My personal friendship circle stems back to my early infant school days. We still talk, and got back together for a reunion back in 2016 when I was in the UK.
I also have a group of 30 year plus friends. People I’ve known since my 20s. I consider them lifelong friends. After all, who else flies from the uk to australia for just 6 days?
Best Friends – A best friend is someone you can call at 3am and they’ll come running. A best friend is someone you can tell anything to, and that’s where your conversation stays. Best friends are few and far between and to be treasured.
Close Friends – A close friend is someone whom you can rely on, but you may not see as much of each other as best friends do. You should be able to talk to a close friend without fear of being judged. You should be able to talk about anything.
Social Group Friends – These are the friends that are part of a book club you are in. These may be your social media friends.
Activity Friends – Those you might see at the gym or at the shops.
Friends of Convenience – The carpooling friends. The Saturday team sports friends.
Acquaintance Friends – Work friends.
So why does a friendship end?
Friendships can change categories. A social group friend may end up being a close friend. A best friend may end up being a social friend only. A best friend may end up being a friend of convenience or activity friend. It is all reflective of your life, and the path you are walking.
Despite the amount of friends you have, despite which category your friends fall into, there are times that these friendships fail. It’s normal in life for friendships to fizzle out. It’s one of those things that happens. We don’t like to admit it, but it does. I’ll be honest, it’s happened to me over my fifty years of life. Friends that I considered best friends are now no longer, and friends from many years ago, have slipped back into my life.
It’s said that the average friendship lasts around 7 years, with the exceptions lasting much longer. From my own personal opinion, I have friends from infant school (40 years ago) and friends from 2 years ago, as well as everything in between. The healthy mix of friends helps you become the person you are, drives you to be the best version of yourself.
Unfortunately friendships can and do end. Here are just a few reasons why
Loss of commonalities
Your best friend in high school may have continued to be your best friend through college. But, as life moves forward, marriage, children and relocations occur, commonalities with someone you previously considered your friend, have the potential to stray far apart. It’s not through anyones fault. It’s just life. Conversations become less and less. You find what was a weekly call or coffee, is now a Christmas card.
Betrayal takes many forms. A friend has the potential to betray in many ways. A lie told, can do irreparable damage to a friendship. Trust broken is a major betrayal. Whether the trust broken, is through infidelity, whether it is through those lies told, whether it is through sharing secrets, it is betrayal. Another betrayal that women feel is that they are sometimes used by a friend. Maybe their friend has a partner so the friendship takes a back seat. That betrayal can be painful.
Competition in life
Competition, or to put it another way, jealousy is another reason friendships can fade. When you are with a group of friends, married or single, it is often said that “we want what we can’t/don’t have”. Friendships can waver and fizzle out very easily due to jealousy. A single friend may be jealous of a married couples relationship. A married couple may be jealous that their friends have a better relationship.
The jealous friend may stay away from your social media while lavishing praise on others. They may be insecure. The jealous friend may feel the need to try and upstage you.
When your friend wants something
When friends come to see you, but at the end of the visit, they always slip into the conversation that they ‘need a favour’. That favour may be anything from borrowing something to babysitting. From a loan to driving them somewhere. It could be anything. The constant of being needed and used, can drain a friendship.
I experienced this during my life. It took a while for me, to really see what was happening. I suppose, from my point of view, I didn’t want to believe that a person could be this way. Unfortunately, it happens, and it’s about recognising it, making those hard choices and stepping away
Increased stress when you are with that friend.
Feeling stressed when you are with a person is a big clue that the friendship is deteriorating. A friendship should be comfortable. In an ideal way, your friendship should be comfortable enough that if you are having a bad day, you can acknowledge that without fear of reprisal. If the stress is due to your friend, a conversation could be initiated, but the relationship may have passed the point of no return.
If your friend is negative all the time you are together, or very guarded, it increases stress. If you are giving support, doing favours (as we’ve mentioned before) and you can’t rely on a friend to help you, your stress levels will rise.
Family & partner opinions.
Friendships can deviate from the path they were previously on, simply due to perceptions of others. Such perceptions may be – My family does not approve of them; partner does not approve of them; and friend is inconsistent. We may not have been able to see these perceptions before they were raised to us.
Violating your boundaries
This is a big red flag . It’s time to end that friendship. Having boundaries ensures our safety and helps us as humans, meet our needs, whether they be physical, emotional or mental health. When the boundaries are violated by a friend, it can often lead us to question how we behave. Your friend might say “it’s just me”. Your friend might blame you for being “too sensitive” or “too introverted/extroverted”. A healthy friendship should not lead us to question ourself, our own self worth.
Remember, how you feel within the friendship and within yourself, is the biggest indicator of whether it is time to end the relationship.
Consider how you feel. Consider your needs. Remember that you should feel loved and respected. A healthy part of your own self care is setting boundaries.
You need boundaries for your life. If those boundaries need moving occasionally, then acknowledge that and make your life adjustments. Those decisions are tough sometimes.
I have friends from thirty plus years ago that I can call anytime day or night. Those friends flew to Australia for 6 days when life took a turn for my late husband and I. True friends. They have been a constant support ever since. I have a friend that I met on day 2 of landing in Australia. That was 17 years ago. She is a great friend, reliable friend and my biggest writing fan! She has always been there for me. There are some others but these are special mentions.When you have a true friend, hold on tight.