“Someone asked if I knew you and a million memories flooded my mind. Then I said – I used to.”
The first time I read that quote I understood exactly the response… as if I had given it myself. Because I have. If you’ve ever experienced a break-up, you might have said the same. How else can you describe a severed connection to someone you once knew so well?
Our alliances arise from a variety of circumstances. They can be as simple as proximity or sharing similar interests. Their endurance can be brief or last a lifetime. Skim the surface or reach great depths. Some friends drift in and out of our lives almost without a sound or they enter and exit dramatically, at full volume.
READ MORE: Should You Marie Kondo Your Friends?
But along this journey, almost all of us have lived through a close confidant sadly becoming someone we used to know. Even friendships we thought would last forever can collapse. Yet when that happens, we’re often left unsure of what to do. There aren’t many guidelines on how to initiate, respond or survive the process.
As we grow older, we need to confront the fact that not all of our friends still fit. It’s not unusual to hang on to relationships even when they’re no longer healthy. Or that simply have become annoying. Who doesn’t have the friend that makes you slightly cringe when you see their name on your phone? Why don’t we let go? There are a few common reasons:
But who we choose to call a friend is too important not to examine or leave to chance. We only have so much time. There are different levels of friendship but at the very least they should be based in goodness.
The following observations might help if you’re considering your friendships and whether it might be time to let someone go:
I’ve been on both ends of a break-up. I was only 12 when my very best friend decided to cut me loose. We were inseparable but she was a year older and when she started junior high school, I was still in elementary. She now had seventh-grade friends and I was excluded. She told me that she was older now and couldn’t hang out with me. I was heartbroken and didn’t understand that she had outgrown me. And our friendship.
But it hurt just as bad when I lost a friend I loved a few years ago. We had shared many of the ups and downs of life, but it was often off-balance. I was the one who made the plans to get together. I was his support system when he needed encouragement or a place to vent. But it was rarely reciprocal. It became dysfunctional and he even began to blame me for his problems. I finally realized this was a burden I couldn’t continue to shoulder.
It’s been said that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. We just don’t always know which it will be. But I do know that every friendship I’ve had brought meaning into my life, even those that ended when the job did or when someone started seventh grade.
As women, we frequently feel responsible to nurture relationships, even when they no longer work for us. And we often attract needy people, which typically leads to one-way connections that we blame ourselves for if we can’t make them work.
Friends should never be taken lightly or for granted, but the truth is not everyone is good for us. It’s not easy to cut ties with someone we were once close with. But I also think as we grow older, we do become at least a little wiser.
Youth can afford to be more reckless with who or how they spend their time. But we now truly understand its significance. One advantage of age is the discovery that we need to regard life and time with more reverence now.
We don’t want to waste a single moment but we also know we need good friends. Life is short, yes. But we want it to be full as well.
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