I’ve been guilty of this myself, remaining friends with those for far too long, putting myself in situations that weren’t aligned with whom I am with no real validation for doing so.
Just like intimate relationships; the investment in friendships contract, evolve stagnate and in some cases become toxic. So why is it difficult to step away from a friendship, even if it becomes unhealthy, toxic, or just unsatisfying.
Why do we stay in relationships when they clearly stop working for us?
You have a past that has emotional value.
BFF, ‘best friends forever’ is a phrase that you’d expect to hear in a primary school playground, however I’ve seen it permeate into the lives of those you’d least expect.
While the nostalgia attached to childhood friendships can lead to closeness that endures and grows over time, it can also hinder the separation process when that friendship stops feeling mutual or fails to evolve.
It’s not the breaking up that is hard, it’s the drama that follows that will haunt you years after – this isn’t validation to stay.
Childhood friends may stay friends because they feel guilty for violating the sacred bond of a friendship. Even the ability to say “we’ve been friends for 20 years” can make exiting a friendship more difficult – especially if at the decision making end.
There is friendship debt still due.
When a friend helps you move through a difficult phase in life, you may feel there is a debt to be repaid. When the friendship becomes conditional it could be time to ask;
- Should I remain or stay within the relationship?
- Was this a condition of the relationship?
- Would I keep another friend bound by these terms?
Relationships should not be conditional but inevitably they always are, because of this they need to be guided by equity rather than equality – see my other article on equity and equality.
Your extended network is dependant on that relationship.
Sometimes extricating yourself from a friendship is particularly difficult if the friendship operates largely in the context of a group. In this scenario, a person may struggle to distance from one friend without disconnecting from a larger social network. As a result, a person may put up with frustrating relationships or mitigate the impact of that one individual in the name of staying part of the collective.
I receive a lot of emails asking about how to navigate within this area, despite each relationship being very different, cutting ties for a short period of time can be a good way to level the field, it also avoids any miscommunication or potential emotional blame games.
You’ve never broken a friendship before without validation.
Sometimes a relationship goes beyond a point of no return; in hindsight it should have ended long before, and should it have done so would have saved a lot of anxiety, stress and emotional discomfort.
Leaving someone that you once held close is hard. It is painful. It requires sitting with uncomfortable truths that can disrupt routines, traditions, and bonds. But sometimes, it is best for everybody involved. The courage to leave makes room for the people who belong in our lives and help us grow into the people we are supposed to be.
If you are struggling with a friendship, spend just a few moments thinking about what you would say if you were to able to look back at this point as being the turning point in your relationship, it may not be over but just put on a pause.
Thanks for listening; there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts, articles and videos out there, and every time you share, like and subscribe, you help me help more people. For more articles remember to visit the website BenjaminBonetti.com and if you think it is time, then take advantage of the introductory sessions that can be found on the booking page.
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