“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” the saying goes.
And the research supports it; we are significantly influenced by whom we surround ourselves with. Friendships are some of the most significant relationships in our lives; they can add richness to our experiences and shape us into better versions of ourselves. On the flip side, they can also create significant emotional pain and bring out the very worst in us.
Because of this, there is wisdom in choosing who our friends are. And there is also wisdom in letting go of relationships that have become detrimental to our growth and well-being. This can be hard to do, not only because of our complicated feelings about ending friendships but also because we don’t have as clear a picture of what a positive – or negative – friendship might look like because the definitions of friendship are so varied. As a result, we rarely take time to thoughtfully evaluate the state of our friendships as we do our romantic relationships.
Although the definition of true friendship might look different for each of us, here are 3 sure signs that it might be time to let that friendship go.
1. There has been a serious betrayal
The foundation of healthy, reciprocal relationships is trust. When it’s broken, it can be hard to build it back. Small ruptures and disappointments between friends are normal, so being able to forgive, repair and change for the better is necessary for any relationship. But when there has been a gross betrayal of trust – like a friend steals money from you, cheats with your partner, or divulges very personal or sensitive information to others – it’s time to cut ties. If they’re able to do this horrible thing to you in the first place, they probably don’t have your best interest in mind and are likely to betray you again.
2. Your mental health is negatively impacted by the relationship
Reciprocal friendships are meant to add value to our lives through joy, support, and connection, as well as through challenge. Just because there is a conflict or struggle in a friendship doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy; that discomfort is actually essential for greater intimacy and growth.
But if certain friendships consistently elicit a feeling of dread, increase feelings of anxiety, fear, or shame, or bring out the worst behavior in you, it’s time to evaluate if this relationship is worth investing in. Perhaps a certain friend is possessive, jealous, or controlling. Maybe they always attract drama and chaos that eventually impacts your peace. Perhaps they’re dismissive, passive-aggressive, or competitive to the point where your sense of confidence and self-worth is eroded.
Good relationships are meant to challenge us, expand our capacity, and help us grow into better versions of ourselves. But if they consistently crush our spirits, it might be time to say goodbye.
3. The relationship is consistently one-sided
True friendship is defined by reciprocity and mutual support. The scales won’t always be in perfect balance – it’s normal to have seasons where we’re supporting more than we’re getting and vice versa – but if someone is only reaching out to connect when they want or need something, it shows that they don’t inherently value you, they only value what you can provide for them. Unless we’re mentoring someone, or we’re in a position of leadership and we’re helping someone through a hard time, it’s important to evaluate if that mutual support is there. You are worthy of time and investment, and to have someone care about your heart, mind, and the state of your well-being.
Although the idea of ending a friendship might seem scary, ending relationships that are no longer good for you can open up space and capacity for new ones that will allow you to thrive.
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