It is a new year and with that comes change. We organize our life, set goals and lose the weight but what about our friendships? Our relationships impact and influence our direction in life. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. But are you in the flock with your friends?
Let’s face it, if you made the decision to go vegan in 2019 it will not help that each time you go to dinner at your best friend’s house she is serving wild game. So while we are clearing out the energy for new beginnings, let’s evaluate our friendships to decide which box they go in.
Is it ever ok to interject?
Having relationships is the key to human growth. We learn from each other, lean on each other, and love one another. Experiencing life with someone encapsulates what it means to be human. It is a connection that we most naturally desire, being a part of, belonging.
In our relationships, it is a priority to set personal boundaries. These boundaries are allowed to vary on an individual basis.Candace Lynne
Boundaries are two things:
We have all experienced the loss of friendship and while some were easy to let go of, others not as much. Through sadness, grief, birthdays and milestones our bonds are strengthened or in the absences of, lessened. Respect is the utmost pedestal compliment you can ever receive or give in a friendship.
You will find that in this post I use the terms relationship and friendship interchangeably and that is because they are one and the same. A friendship is a relationship in our lives that requires maintenance. In relationships, we have a role, to recognize this is a guarantee for a healthy, long-lasting friendship.
Individual Opinions & Sharing
The heading of this post was a foreshadowing to this section. This section is interactive and presents questions that we may ask ourselves in order to determine, is it ever ok to interject your opinion. I encourage using the comment section to discuss what you came up with.
Most of us, especially women, have been in the classic situation of giving friendly advice when we see that our friend is in a toxic relationship. This is assuming he or she came to you with a problem and asked for help in finding a solution.
- Do you point out the obvious? That regardless of this isolated incident, the relationship is doom for failure?
- Do you dig up past events that are similar to this situation and point out patterns?
- Do you listen and let your friend work it out on their own with your guidance?
- Do you make excuses regardless of right or wrong in defense of your friend?
- Do you stay out of it?
In my personal experience, this has been a challenge for me. A true struggle. Regardless of my friend’s attachment or feelings, I have let loose with my observations and it has caused a strain in my friendships. After years of practice, I came to the conclusion that my friends are going to do whatever they want to do. It is best that I keep my opinions to myself even if I have been asked. This seems to be the safest way of respecting their decisions but also allowing them a space to vent without judgment.
Of course, it goes to say that there are a million scenarios, some more serious than others. How do you know when to intervene? Here is my view: the only time you have the right to step in is when there are children involved. If the children are being physically abused, neglected or suffering any type of abuse, you as an adult speak on behalf of the child involved. First, confront your friend and from there get the authorities involved. Who cares if you lose a friend at that point. The damage being done to the child can end with you. You cannot assume the child is in danger you must be 100% sure they are unsafe before reporting.
What if your friend is being physically abused? You listen. You drop clues for counseling. Invite them to educate themselves on the forms of abuse. Whatever you do, do not get in the middle of it. They will choose the abusive relationship over the friendship every single time. In order to respect your own boundaries, you may have to walk away from the friendship until they get out of the abusive relationship. This does not guarantee they will leave but it is necessary you govern your boundaries.
Are you still wondering when you interject? You don’t! If it is something you cannot tolerate, you walk away.
Quality of Friendship
Is your friendship healthy or toxic? How do you determine?
Below are qualities seen in a healthy friendship
- Supportive of decisions
- Accepting of each other’s faults
- Do not judge one another
- Encourages growth
- Defend each other’s character
- Does not gossip about the other
- Gives honest feedback
- Respectful of boundaries
- Dependable/ Reliable
- Open communication
As you can imagine, toxic friendships offer the opposite qualities. Toxic friendships can be obvious to some yet hidden to others. We may not realize that it is our closest and longest friendship that are holding us back. Limiting beliefs, fear of judgment and unadvised opinions can dictate a bond that needs to be severed.
A good way to know if you have a toxic friend is by writing down how they react to certain situations. Are they the nagging reminder of a failed project? When you achieve a goal, are they there to celebrate? Have you ever been at lunch with this particular friend and gone into the bathroom to find a piece of black pepper in your teeth? That is a sure way of knowing if they are for you or in competition with you.
Easier said than done but letting go of a few friendships will do you no harm. How much you want to bet they barely notice? That is what is sad. Many people claim to be your friend in the company of others yet they do not call, make lunch dates, or even text.
By no means am I the perfect example of a friend. I allow physical distance to separate me from them and once I arrive at home, I do me. My friends and I designated Thursdays as our hang out day. We did really well the first month and after that, it has been hit or miss. Luckily we see each other at work but if it wasn’t for work I’m not sure how often we would see each other.
In 2018, after a year of distance, I had to let go of my lifelong best friend not because of me but because of her. She refuses to seek mental health assistance and I made the toughest decision ever. I separated from her and in doing so I realized it was me who kept our friendship alive. Her selfishness had reached its apex and I, although sad, have felt relief.
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The thing is is that we each have our own lives but it is important to set aside time for those in your life who truly matter. Because if they were to die tomorrow, you would regret not doing so. Death is the only certain in life. Do yourself a favor and evaluate your friendships and say goodbye to those that no longer serve a purpose in your life.