Even the best of friendships can encounter a bit of turbulence from time to time. From feeling ignored and neglected, to feeling offended or taken advantage of, there are all kinds of issues that can crop up to sour a friendship.
Once feelings are hurt and emotions are running high, you may be tempted to call it quits and walk away from the friendship altogether. This is precisely when you need to hit the pause button and take time to reflect, so you don’t make a decision you later regret.
As you reflect, here are some questions to ask yourself before you cast a friendship aside.
How long have the two of you been friends?
On it’s own, longevity isn't always enough of a reason to hold on to a friendship. For instance, if a situation is toxic or causing you more harm than good, it may well be in your best interest to cut ties regardless of how long you've known someone.
However, longstanding friendships have an ease and comfort about them that develops over time. You know each other’s personal histories; and you have shared history. While that level of comfort and familiarity may lead to some insensitive words and occasional stepping on toes, it might also be just what you need at certain times in your life.
It takes time to get to know someone; and much more time to forge a deep, strong bond them. That connection and all that shared history, built up over time, is irreplaceable and shouldn’t be disregarded or dismissed lightly.
Is there something out of the ordinary going on with your friend that you're aware of?
Is your friend going through relationship difficulties or a divorce? Having trouble with her teenaged son or daughter? Dealing with health issues? Taking on caregiving responsibilities for an aging parent?
These are just a few of many different life events that might have your friend under more stress than usual. With that as the backdrop, it shouldn't come as a surprise if your friend is short with you for no apparent reason, or forgets your Birthday, or simply isn’t there for you emotionally in the way you would like.
Is there something out of the ordinary going on with your friend that you're not aware of?
Also consider whether your friend could be dealing with difficulties or a crisis they've chosen to keep private. Your friend's unusual behaviour or distancing from you may be due to events taking place which you know nothing about.
From financial difficulties, to a cheating spouse, to a close family member experiencing mental health problems, there are certain situations people are less likely to open up about, even to their closest friends. It could be they're embarrassed by the situation; they're afraid they'll be judged or looked down upon because of it. Or, they may hold off from sharing details because they don't want to burden others with it.
People can be incredibly skillful at presenting that everything is fine, even when everything is falling apart. Regardless of how strong, stable, and together your friend may appears, be open to the possibility there could be a whole lot going on behind the scenes you don't know about, which could explain changed or out-of-character behaviour.
Is there something out of the ordinary going on with you?
What’s going on in your life? Are you facing extra pressure at work? Are you dealing with issues that have you feeling stretched to the limit and more on edge than usual?
If you’re highly stressed, there’s a good chance you might also be highly sensitive to the behaviour of people around you. That could lead you to overreact to something your friend said or did which, under normal circumstances, you would overlook without giving it a second thought.
Are you relying too heavily on your friend to meet your needs?
Another possibility to consider: are you relying too heavily on your friend to meet your needs? If there’s a lot going on in your own life, you might be placing emotional demands on your friend that are beyond what your friend can handle. Your fun-loving friend might be a great as a companionship when you’re looking for someone to head out town with, but less equipped to deal with heavier issues like the ones you’re facing.
Rather than concluding that your friend doesn’t care, a more accurate assessment may simply be that your friend isn’t in a position to meet some of the needs you have at this time. Even if your friend isn’t your go-to person for this particular chapter in your life, it’s still possible for the friendship to remain intact while you seek out the support you need from other sources.
Conclusion: it’s possible to manage occasional ups and downs within a friendship, without ending the friendship itself. Sometimes, you just need to be patient and make room for the natural ebb and flow that most friendships, especially longstanding ones, experience over time.
Before you cast aside a friendship, stand back and look at the big picture. You may discover that even though your friendship is going through a rough patch, it’s still a friendship worth holding on to.
Image Credits: George from Pixabay
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