On Managing Friendships

Dear True Self,

I have a close friend but lately we aren’t all that close. My friend just doesn’t seem to make the effort or cancels plans . It feels like they just aren’t as interested in being friends as I am. It feels like we are drifting apart. I don’t want to lose my friend but am tired of putting in all the effort. How can I fix our friendship?

Sincerely,

Friends Falling Apart


Dear FFA,

There is nothing to fix. Friendship is not a problem to be solved. It is a dance to be experienced.

Firstly, deconstruct this notion you have that you are the only one putting in effort. What would your friend say if we asked them? Perhaps they feel they are putting in enough effort, or that you are being too demanding? When only viewing your side of the story it’s easy to justify yourself as the victim.

The reality is quite simple: Your expectations of the relationship are not being met.

In any relationship, we unconsciously make certain expectations that we want fulfilled in order for the relationship to continue. When these expectations are met or exceeded, we say the relationship is going well. When they are not, we become hurt and feel as though one person is not pulling their weight.

It is only natural to have certain expectations with a friend. For example, a simple one is that no one wants a friend who will abuse them. The issue is not the expectation itself. The issue is that you don’t understand what yours are and when they are or aren’t met.

So am I here to tell you to lower or refine your expectations? Indeed, those are probably worth defining, but they will not address the real issue. Even if you change your expectations, it does not mean your friend will change their behaviour to something you prefer. We cannot act in life in order to guarantee the outcome we want. There are no guarantees.

This gets to the real heart of the issue: No matter what we do in life, we cannot control what happens externally 100%. We can only change how we choose to be.

The reality is, you will never have a friend in your life who is 100% of the time always close with you. No one person can be everything to you all the time.

If you observe your relationships over the years, you will see there is a natural ebb and flow to them. Sometimes, you are close, sometimes you drift apart. Eventually you come back together if a solid foundation was built.

If you just took conscious control of this process, things would flow so much more easily.

In your life, you have made friends simply because of proximity – school, work, etc. When those things ended, you drifted apart didn’t you? The ones you were able to rekindle something with, was there not a stable foundation beyond what initially brought you together? If you just leave that foundation building up to chance, it may work for a time, but rarely for your whole life.

With your current friend, if you just accepted that this is a natural time of drifting apart, there would be no issue. You would both have the space you need. If the relationship is strong, you will come back together when the time comes. But this space that is trying to happen is much needed. If you try to claw yourself closer and closer when things are naturally moving away you are headed for drama. You risk the whole friendship by clinging to it.

Know when to let things go. If they don’t return, it’s time to learn a lesson: that you need to work on building better foundations with your friends. Really examine the friendship you have now that you are so afraid of losing. Why are you so afraid of losing it and holding on so tightly? If it has a good foundation, let it go and trust it will return.

But perhaps that is the crux of the matter for you. Perhaps you didn’t consciously build a good foundation with this person. Perhaps you feel if you let them go, they won’t return. Even if that’s the case, you have learned a valuable lesson for the next friendship you pursue.

I must emphasize that none of this requires any drama. It is not a big deal. It is a natural process of life for things to decay and become reborn. It is happening every moment of your life within you and around you. It’s how we grow and evolve. It is not a bad thing, so don’t treat it like one.

Nothing even needs to be said at all. You do not need to go to your friend and declare,

“I do not wish to see you again until the time is right! I will miss you so much! GOODBYE!”

or other such dramatics. Just let it drift apart. It will be okay. Just because you let go for a time does not mean you have to let go of how you feel. Are you not capable of loving your friend even when you have not seen them?

You don’t need to hoard that love for the friends you have either. Be open to new experiences and new friends! There are billions of people on this planet. Become involved and meet some of them. Treat every person you see with the same reverence you would give your best friend. What’s the harm?

If you approach friendships paying attention to when they ebb and flow, it will become so effortless and natural for you. You will not need to maintain anything. You will just do what is necessary.

When life brings you closer, cherish each moment and involve yourself totally. When life drifts you apart, accept it and feel grateful when you’re back in each other’s life. There is a reason for the space that is happening now. Let go, explore that space, and move forward trusting the life process.

With gratitude,

Your True Self

Click here if you have a question to ask Your True Self. All questions are anonymous and may be published unless specified otherwise.

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