The Politics of Friendship installment on Signed, Logan is coming to an end, and this week I decided to save probably the most difficult topic of all of them for last. Knowing when you should let go of a friend.
Letting go of friends is not something we ever consider when we first befriend someone. After all, we all enter friendships with the best of intentions and an optimistic outlook on where it’s going! But sometimes those intentions falter and don’t turn into habits, or that optimistic outlook turns out to be wrong, and it comes time to make a difficult decision: do you end the relationship, or continue to try to make it work?
It can sometimes be best for all involved if a friendship comes to an end. And while the most difficult part of the process is definitely cutting ties, it may be even harder to recognize when it might be time to make that decision. It’s why I’ve compiled a few situations in which it may be time to consider letting go of a friend so that you can better recognize when hard decisions might have to be made.
But I want to be clear: you should never let go of a friend at the first sign of any of these situations. You should always try to save your friendship by having honest conversations with your friends about where your relationship is going. But if you’ve exhausted every avenue of communication and have found that no amount of talking about the problem has helped you fix it, then it may be time let your friendship go.
It’s time to let go of a friend if . . .
You don’t have anything in common anymore.
It happens. Once you may have been best friends, spent all of your time together, told each other everything, etc., and then suddenly . . . You don’t know what to talk to them about. Or you find that the conversations you’re having aren’t about anything you’re interested in. It’s as though the person who used to be your best friend no longer has anything in common with you.
[ Read On : How to Keep Long Distance Friendships. ]
And there’s nothing wrong with that. As we get older, we change. It’s a fact of life! Especially if your lives no longer revolve around the same thing. Friendships are built on mutual understanding, interest, and effort, and when those foundational elements are gone, it can be hard to hold the friendship together.
Or maybe you became fast, best friends with someone in a very short period of time because you were at camp together, or working together, or in a class together, and suddenly when that common ground is gone (maybe at the end of the summer or semester?) you found that you didn’t really have much in common at all. Sometimes our friendships spark by proximity rather than shared interest or life experience, and when that proximity disappears, it can be incredibly difficult to keep that friendship going.
Now, I’m not saying you have to let go of a friend who you may not have a lot in common with anymore. But if you’ve tried and tried to maintain that friendship and you’ve found that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult and the spark isn’t there anymore, it may be time to graciously allow that chapter of your life to close.People change as time passes. If you find that you don't have anything in common with people you used to call your friends, you might want to consider making the grown up decision to let go. Click To Tweet
You’re not getting anything out of your friendship.
Does this sound selfish? Maybe. But is it an important thing to consider? Absolutely. Here’s the fact of the matter: friendship is a two way street regardless of what kind of friendship it is. And it’s probably time to let go of a friend if your friendship is benefitting them way more than it is you.
As someone with a quite frankly absurd amount of empathy for other people combined with a constant need to fix problems (or people), I’ve found many times in my life that the effort I’ve put into friendships hasn’t been reciprocated. I’ve been the shoulder to cry on for many people, but often that was the extent of our relationship and it wasn’t fulfilling on my end!Friendship is a two way straight, and if you find that the effort you're putting into a friendship is not being reciprocated, it might be time to reconsider how much time you spend on it. Click To Tweet
So if you find that a friend of yours constantly asks you for help with their homework but never returns the favor, or a friend always needs your help making big life decisions but isn’t there to help you out, too, it may be time to reconsider your friendship and if it’s worth it on your end. It’s not easy to let go of a friend but sometimes it’s the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves!
They won’t make time for you.
Remember how I said that friendship is a two way street? Yeah, that’s a theme for this post if you couldn’t tell.
You have to spend some sort of time together to be friends, full stop. This could be having a quick Skype sesh to catch up after work one day, or grabbing coffee on the weekends for an hour, or meeting up in each other’s cities for a fun weekend trip. It could even be as simple as responding to your text messages in a timely manner!
[ Read On : The Post-Grad’s Guide to Making Friends at Work. ]
The most important thing about friendship, though, is that your friend is there for you when you need them, even if they’re not around often. I’m still learning how to keep up with my long-distance friendships, and none of us are spectacular about it, but we all know that if one of us needed help we would all jump to the ready and be there for each other, regardless of what time of day it was, what we were doing, or where we were supposed to be going.
So if you find that you can’t even get a response to your text messages, nevertheless be there for you when you need them most, it may be time to let go of a friend.
You’re not willing to make time for them.
Yep, it’s that pesky two way street again coming back around for the third time in a row! But this time it’s a little different: if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to be there for your friends or make time for them, it’s definitely time to stop stringing them along.
[ Read On : The Best Advice for Working with Friends. ]
Look, I get it, it happens. It’s happened to me, too! Your life gets busy and some of your friendships fall by the wayside even if they really try to keep it up. But the effort, for whatever reason, just isn’t there on your end. You promise to be better, you promise to make a change, but those promises never come to fruition.
If this happens, it’s time to take a good hard look at what your priorities are and what is realistic for you to do. It’s easy to make promises in the moment to make yourself feel better, sure. But it only hurts more when you don’t follow through. This isn’t to say that you’re a terrible person because, believe me, I’ve done this, too. But this is your wake up call to stop making promises that you know in the end you won’t be able to keep.
It’s not easy to let go of a friend when they’re the problem, and it’s even harder when you’re the problem. But at the end of the day if you can’t follow through, it’s probably time to let go.It's not fair to string friends along if you're not willing to make time for them. It's better to make the grown up decision to let go of a friend than to continue making promises you can't keep. Click To Tweet
They’re having a negative effect on your life.
Ultimately, a successful friendship should make both you and your friend better off for having it. It should have a positive impact on your life! And it should make you excited for the future and for being around each other.
But it’s probably time to let go of a friend if your friendship gives you none of those things.
You feel emotionally drained, mentally exhausted, or personally pained after hanging out with your friends. Your friends shouldn’t encourage you to cultivate habits that will ultimately hurt you or make you worse off. And your friends shouldn’t make you feel guilty for doing something that you genuinely love or enjoy!
Friendship should make you feel supported. It should make you want to do better and be better. It should make you want to achieve greater heights and help your friends get there, too! And If I’m being completely honest, you have to let go of a friend who doesn’t make you feel this way.
14 thoughts on “When You Should Let Go of a Friend – The Politics of Friendship”
This is definitely tough. I’ve had to let go of friends within the last few years and it’s hard. But when they don’t reach out and make time for you, it’s time to let go.
Letting go of friends (especially ones you’ve had for a long time) is a really tough thing to do. But as you pointed out, very necessary if the issues above start coming into play.
I’ve honestly let go of so many friends over the years! Honestly, I think it’s normal and part of life. We break up in romantic relationships all the time, we date and things don’t go anywhere, so why wouldn’t friendships be the same? I think the notion that it’s difficult is super common and there is an added layer of shame when it comes to friendships for some reason.
Logan this post has ALL the truths in it. Deciding to end a friendship is hard but can be so necessary for our own mental health and betterment as people. Realizing that someone else isn’t willing to make any effort can be so hard.
This is such a good post, letting go of friends is SO hard but something that has made me feel better once it’s done.
some of these are SO true, and some of these i did not even think about but are so true!!! i love this post and how thorough it is!
This is such an important thing to realize (and actually pretty hard sometimes.) I’ve definitely had to let go of a few friends over the years. But it’s turned out to be a good thing!
Molly // Miss Molly Moon
Letting go is so hard! I also believe its good to give someone closure on why the friendship is ending- the most frustrating thing ever was when I had someone leave my life without at least telling me why they decided to do so.
These are great tips! The friendships I’ve let go of just kind of tapered off…
These are all so very true. I had to let go of a friend due to a negative situation. Definitely not easy but definitely better in the long run. Good read!
I have let go friends before. One was super difficult. We were best friends but she just wasn’t there for me anymore. And in other cases, the friendship wasn’t real. It can so hard but in some cases very necessary.
This was such a great post, Logan! Letting go of a friend is definitely hard, but so important in one’s self-improvement journey. I agree with all of these points, especially the “if they have a negative effect on your life” one.
This is such great advice! A friend breakup can be so hard sometimes but if these things you listed above is happening, it’s much better to let them go than keep them around.
Amen to letting go of negative friends. Sometimes its hard to identify the people who suck the joy out of us, but their true colors never fail to eventually come to light.
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