After his father’s death, 36-year-old mental health advocate Paul Marlow was at a turning point in Surrey, British Columbia. “I saw I needed a change,” Marlowe says. He wanted to quit unhealthy habits and start afresh.
“I found myself longing to get away from the old, depressed and anxiety filled me,” he says. But as he tried to move forward, his friends stopped him. While Marlowe was pursuing a healthy lifestyle, his friends preferred drinking and partying.
As Marlow struggled emotionally, his friends reached less and less, and he felt it was time to move on.
“There can be many reasons why a friendship is unhealthy. But any friendship that consistently contributes to our sense of disregard, devaluation, or disrespect should be reevaluated, ”Gina Handley Schmidt, LMHC, a psychiatrist and author in the Seattle area Friendships: Creating Meaningful, Lasting Adult Friendships.
General indication it’s time to move on
As you change and grow, you may find that old friendships no longer fit. You may naturally fall apart or suddenly feel that you are in an unhealthy relationship.
Here are some hints that it may be time to move on.
You are not the priority. You may notice that your friend doesn’t make an effort to be with you. They may be difficult to reach or may not be interested in them. Sometimes, there is a temporary reason, such as if your friend has just had a baby and is more busy than before. But if you rarely feel a priority or if you feel like your friend doesn’t think you’re worth their time, it’s best to move on.
You don’t connect on the same level. Friendship works best when both people want the same kind of connection. If you want a deeply personal connection, but your friend can’t or doesn’t want to, the friendship can become stagnant and unsatisfactory, Schmidt says.
You give more than you take. Sometimes, one person may need more than the other. But if a friend is a frequent taker and rarely a giver, it is not a balanced friendship. If you are always there for them, but they do not do it for you, then it can be a sign of moving forward.
Your friend is abusive or mean. Healthy friendships provide support and affirmation. If your friend doesn’t respect your feelings, it’s an unhealthy relationship. Feeling anxious or negative in your friendship is a sign that it may be best to end it.
Your friend is dishonest or hides information. “Deep connection requires trust,” says Schmidt. “And trust requires honesty.” If you cannot trust your friend to be open or tell the truth, your relationship will not go away and can become a source of frustration.
You underestimate your achievements. Some friendships are competitive. But if you hold back from sharing the good news to avoid hurting your friend’s feelings, it is a sign of jealousy. Good friends want you to be successful and are happy for you when you do.
how to end it
If the time has come to end the friendship then you have some options.
let it go. Some friendships break up on their own. The same was the case with Marlowe. “Our friendship came to an end slowly. I canceled dinner plans. He stopped asking me to join him. We just faded with time,” he says.
If you try to make plans, but your friend keeps dodging, you may find that the friendship fades when you stop trying.
talk about it. It’s often best to have a conversation about why you’re ending things so that both people feel respected and understand why it’s not working out.
If you had a fight, it might be tempting to leave it there. But having one last conversation can be a better option, even if it is difficult to talk about what happened or why friendship is no longer working for you.
No matter how you end the friendship, try to be respectful of the other person’s feelings, especially if your breakup is one-sided.
You can be respectful by being honest and determined, says Schmidt. Tell your friend why you are going away, but pay attention to how you deliver the news. Be kind and mature, especially if your friend doesn’t see it coming and feels hurt or confused by your decision.
Can you be friends again?
“Not all friend breakups are permanent,” Schmidt says. “Sometimes, friends come back to each other at a different season of their lives.” As you grow, you can change later in life, reconnect and form a healthy relationship.
“The important thing is to stay committed to finding and keeping friendships that are healthy,” Schmidt says.
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