It’s ok to walk away from a friendship

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Some friendships end abruptly. Some fizzle out over time. And some continue when they need to end.

I want to talk to you about the latter because it’s the hardest, yet most important, friendship you need to focus on. Why? Because it’s the one you need to stop feeling guilty for and end; sooner rather than later.

Let’s face it. We all have ‘that’ friend. The one that we dread seeing more than we look forward to. The one that always feels like it’s a chore to spend time with them. The one that always causes drama and brings negativity into your life. The one we always make excuses not to see as often as we ‘should’.

If we called that friend a boyfriend, it would be socially acceptable to leave them but a friend? Well they’re for life aren’t they? Wrong.

Friends are people and as people we change.

Not necessarily every day but we change in subtle ways over time. We discover new hobbies. We change our looks. We find new people.

Our friends are usually one of the first people to see and experience the changes. And that’s when it starts to become clear that your friend may not necessarily be right for you anymore. Have they become embittered with life after their divorce five years ago? Are they always looking for drama and stirring for arguments amongst your social circle? Are they always putting you down so that they can feel good about themselves? Then perhaps it’s time to think about putting an end to the relationship because we need to stop allowing negative peoples’ behaviour in our lives.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t fight for the friendship or try and sort things out before you make the final decision to leave. No one deserves to be given up on without a fight. Though it’s incredibly hard to recognise your own feelings about the friendship, it’s even harder to approach the person causing you pain and I understand that but if you do try and have a discussion, if you do end up needing to leave, you can do so without guilt knowing that you gave it ‘one last chance’.

Friendship is, of course, about balance and the saying ‘those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ rings true here. Whatever your issue(s) may be with your friend, prepare that they might have some back for you. I was on the receiving end of this recently. I walked away from a friend and though I wanted nothing more than an apology acknowleding what she said had upset me, I instead received blame (though this was sadly a trait of hers to not accept responsibility) and her last words to me were not angry or sad but spiteful; a side of her I hadn’t seen before and her words stung for some time after. Morale of the story? Be prepared.


Give them a chance

A person can’t change if they don’t know they’ve done anything wrong. If your friend has upset you or consistently affects you in a negative way, try and discuss it with them. It’s incredibly hard to do because you know it might not have a positive outcome you want but getting things out in the open is the best way and by doing this, they may see the ‘error of their ways’ and actively seek to change meaning a better friendship between you both.

Look at yourself

Before you go blaming the other person for the bad relationship, ask if you have part to play in it. One of my biggest failings is that I can sometimes expect too much from a friendship and when that other person doesn’t meet my ‘standards’, I get annoyed when really I need to learn to compromise at times. Do you need to learn to change your mindset a little first?

Ask what you get

We often forget to look after ourselves in life and allow so much negative behaviour from other people to affect us so if you have a friendship that’s struggling, ask yourself what you are getting out of the relationship. Likewise, consider what you bring to the friendship table. If it offers nothing but negative emotions, difficult discussions and tense times spent together, consider the fact that sometimes we just have to move on from each other.

Are you the same person?

Romantic relationships sometimes fail because one person has outgrown the other; they’ve changed and now think and act differently wanting different things out of life; friendships are the same. Though we may continue to have many things in common, sometimes we change so much we’re unrecognisable to each other and though we tell ourselves we ‘should’ stay together, the truth is that it’s ok to admit that you’re not the same people anymore and move on from each other.

Consider life without them

Stop and really ask yourself if you could imagine the rest of your life without them in it. Would you feel sad or think you were better off? Worse still, would you feel relieved? Don’t think ‘but I don’t have that many friends in the first place’ – it doesn’t work like that. Just because you don’t have many friends, it doesn’t mean that you should accept the bad ones just to make up the numbers. I had a difficult friendship that was nearly always negative and took so much out of me emotionally that when it cane to a head and I finally had the opportunity to walk away, I felt nothing but relief and happiness that I no longer had to deal with that person and the drama attached.

It’s ok to walk away from a friendship. It doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible person. It means you’ve changedΒ and it’s time to find someone new.

13 Comments
  • Francesca

    Reply

    Very poignant, Toni! Had this going on with a few people who I was happy to ‘divorce’ when I left the states and a biggy when I moved to the Netherlands that still, unfortunately, stings even after 2 years of no speaking. But I keep telling myself that its like a breakup and takes time. 15 years of friendship will take more than a summer to get over. You really hit all the right points here. To this, I’d like to add that it’s important to look at the person you are when you’re around you’re toxic friend. If its in any way not yourself or you walk away not feeling nice for yourself, it’s time to walk a different path.

    • Toni

      Francesca – You’re right, it is like a breakup particularly because friends are likely to have been with you for far longer than a boyfriend sometimes so it’s bound to sting for a long time after but it sounds like it was the right thing for you to do.
      I think you make a great point about looking at who you are when you’re with these people; it’s definitely a good indicator of whether you need to change yourself and the company you keep.

  • Stephen Jones - A Thousand Miles

    Reply

    Well written! Friendships do change over time. People change. Most people have very few close friends that last a life time. Some friendships may last a few months or years. And that may be ok, too. Then there’s the type of friend that you may not see for years and years, but resume from where you last left off. Different friendships serve different purposes. But you sometimes have to let go of a friend, if you’ve become too different for each other. And that’s ok, too. Shouldn’t need to feel guilty about that. πŸ™‚
    Stephen Jones – A Thousand Miles recently posted…Melbourne would not be Melbourne without footballMy Profile

    • Toni

      Stephen – I think you’re right that some friendships are only ‘designed’ to last a few weeks or months in the first place and there’s nothing with that. And no, we shouldn’t feel guilty if things have changed and we need to move on; great comment!

  • Michelle | Lights Camera Travel

    Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly! I have had friendships where we needed each other for that time and that place… then it was time to part ways. Change is an inevitable part of life and I think too, that when your heart tells you to let go, you should. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t grateful for the time you had together. It was what it was – and now it’s time to go your own way.
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted…The Thai Bitch That Tried to Scam MeMy Profile

    • Toni

      Michelle – “Change is an inevitable part of life” – amen to that!! Being grateful for your time together is key I think Michelle and a great way to realise that people move on; sometimes it happens naturally and others we have to actively make that choice. Lovely comment!

  • Barbara

    Reply

    Hello. Ive been on the receiving end of whom i thought was a good friend walk away. I’d done absolutely nothing wrong for that friend to walk away and hot very hurt as a result. Whilst looking back I know now it was a one way friendship. I was the one who always took the first step in asking to meet etc. I didnt mind at the time because for good friends its unconditional. Ur there no matter what. I will never forget it, I value the fact I have many other good friend and lucky for that. A true friend never walks away and accepts you for who you are, no matter what. I think just to turn your back on soneone like that is a horrible thing to do.

    • Toni

      Barbara – I absolutely agree with you! I would never condone walking away from a friendship without having honest conversations about the relationship to begin with. That is truly a horrible thing to do. And whilst I don’t think she did it in a very nice way at all, it does sounds, as you say, you had a one-sided friendship and in the long run that isn’t a good thing for you to have in your life. I’m so sorry she left the way she did but it definitely sounds it was her issue, not yours. You should never turn your back on someone; we owe everyone an explanation in that situation x

  • Barbara

    Reply

    Hi Toni. Thank you for your kind words.

  • karen norris

    Reply

    friends can change overtime and they may not want to be friends but then the next day they said i am sorry and that i want to be friends with you you can think about it and then say yes or no and what your disgen is just rember they done something to you that made you say no then you got to give them a anthor change to make thinks better but if they dont that is not a true friend true friends make thanks right when they do something wrong

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