HOW TO FIX A FRIENDSHIP
Forgive or Forget
Not every friendship is forever, but how do we know when it’s time to fix it or forget it? Sometimes the best way to fix a friendship is to stop forcing it and let them go. The following practice will help you determine whether your strained friendship is worth saving. But no matter the outcome, it’s important to hold onto the good times you’ve had.
Just like any relationship, friendships will fluctuate over time. So how do we know when the highs outweigh the lows? Is this friendship for a reason, a season, or a lifetime? In order to determine which category they fall under, we must carefully examine the friendship dynamic.
Begin by looking at the friendship as a whole. What roles do each of you play? Maybe one person takes on a reassuring parental role while the other constantly complains. Or does one person take charge and assumes the other will just follow? Take a close look at the power dynamics to see if each of you play an equal part. If not, then one person is dominating the friendship. Thus the other persons’ needs are not being met.
Once you’ve examined the overall friendship, take a closer look at your friend and how they make you feel. It’s not enough just to list their positive and negative traits. You must also consider how their actions affect you. Do you feel happy, safe, and authentic in their presence? Or are you scared to speak your mind, tired of the same conversations, and dread seeing them? How you feel when you’re with your friend will reveal your honest opinion of them.
Now that you have an idea of the characteristics and feelings of your friendship, it’s time to consider which category it falls under.
Reason: If your friendship is for a reason, it usually means that there’s something in each of your lives that you help each other with. Maybe they helped you through a divorce, adjust to a new hometown, or uncover a hidden hobby. Whatever it was, that person came into your life for a specific reason in a time of need. Thus when that need’s been met, the friendship might fade. Usually it’s because there isn’t a deeper connection or common interest beyond what they helped you with. But that’s ok because the friendship played its part -for both of you.
Season: When a friendship is for a season then it’s possible that you’re both on a similar life path, thus you can assist one another with your growth. Common seasonal friendships occur during the different phases of our lives, such as schooling, workplace, parenthood, or retirement. We make friends with others who are in the same stage of life as we are. So when a seasonal friendship ends, it’s usually because you’re both moving onto a new phase in life where you might not need one another anymore. Instead, you can find a new friendship that will match your next steps.
Lifetime: A friendship that lasts a lifetime is one that can withstand any hardship or change that comes your way. No matter your location, life path, or relationship status, this kind of friendship survives it all. When you know a person inside and out, have a shared history, and can still continue to surprise one another, they are usually in your life for good. These types of friendship are rare as most people change in different directions. Life pulls them apart. So when someone understands, trusts, and believes in you completely –and it’s reciprocated- it’s for good.
It’s said that people come into our lives for a purpose. So if you look close enough and listen to your heart, you’ll know what purpose your friendship serves. If you feel good around your friend, then maybe it doesn’t matter if they boss you around because it helps you step outside your comfort zone. Or even though you’ve known your friend for 15 years and you don’t have anything in common anymore, you still feel obligated to stay in touch and talk about “the old days”.
The purpose is to realize that it’s ok to redefine your friendships. Even if that means cutting down on how often you see or talk to them. You don’t have to cut someone off completely, just determine the boundaries of the friendship. But if there are larger red flags and the friendship no longer brings you happiness, it’s fine to say goodbye. Then you’ll be in a place to say hello to new friendships that better align with who you are now.
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