Research shows that relationships are central to our health and wellbeing and can be one of the most rewarding aspects of our life. There can be nothing more important than having someone to whom you can speak, and to know that they care for your welfare. Friendships can permeate your life and have an impact on your career, marriage, family, children and health – they can enrich your existence every day.
However, for a friendship to work, there has to be a balance between the two parties – not one person having their needs met whilst others are overlooked.
Of course, not all relationships prove to be long-lasting. Unfortunately, there are instances when a friendship can turn sour and instead of it bringing happiness into your life, it deteriorates and starts to do more harm than good.
Noticing a change
You may not notice the change immediately although you do start to wonder what has happened. You are aware that you’ve recently started to screen your phone-calls to avoid speaking to someone who leaves you feel mentally drained, exhausted and who is often instrumental in bringing about a negative shift in your mood that can remain with you for the rest of the day. At first, you believe that it is your feelings that have changed but then, when you think about it, you realize that it is the attitude of your friend that has altered. Certainly, the relationship is not as it was.
The days when you used to anticipate seeing each other are now dreaded. After spending time with them, you feel down. You now see that whilst the relationship in the early days was fun and even exciting, it is now stale and sometimes even toxic. You make excuses to yourself for the other party’s behaviour, and to your other friends who have commented on your mood swings. Anything, but to address what is really going on in your relationship. You remind yourself that you have known this person for many years and so you try and hold onto what you had in the past rather than what you now have in the present.
The problem is that relationships are always subject to change because they involve our emotions, and these emotions and those of our friends are influenced by varied factors – many of which we, and they, have little control. And this is invariably reflected in our mood and/or behaviour.
Some close friendships can, of course, just drift apart naturally when the interests that initially joined them together, slowly or suddenly, come to an end.
In all these cases, you worry about what to say and how to frame your words. The friendship that had grown over a period of time has now become more of a duty because the factors that initiated it in the beginning have either changed, disappeared or become redundant and you have no script on how to bring it to an end.
You know you don’t want to intentionally upset the other person involved but you also know that it will not be easy and that they will be hurt. So you formulate a script in your head and maybe rehearse it a few times in the mirror before the dreaded day.
Breaking the news
There is no question that it is difficult to end any friendship but once you have made the decision to close the chapter, then it is important to be clear with the person about your intentions. Crucially, it’s essential to let them know that you’re ending the friendship because of the way it makes you feel – not because of who they are as an individual. Although relationships may be based on ethnicity or cultural interests, they are maintained by emotion. Unfortunately, we are usually unable to control our emotional responses either to another person or even to inanimate factors such as the environment. That means that sometimes we all have to make changes in our personal life – changes that will enable us to grow and move on.
The question to ask yourself is, can you see your present friendship as a part of your future? And if you cannot, then maybe it’s time to let it go.
- Friendships enhance our lives
- Relationships, like the weather, always change
- Sometimes, breaking bonds is a necessity