The majority of the friends I have I wouldn’t give up for the world – probably a really good sign that those relationships are healthy! However, I’ve been guilty of staying in unhealthy friendships and even romantic relationships for way longer than I should have. As I get older (I’m not that old, but none of us are getting any younger here!), I’m finding that I care less and less about material things and more so about the people I’m sharing my time and space with. When I look back on really good times in my life, it’s usually the people I was surrounded by at the time that I remember the most. Likewise for the not-so-great times. I’ve come to realize that in order to make room for beautiful new experiences, it’s sometimes necessary to clear away things that are taking up space in my life without contributing a lot of positivity. That can mean habits, physical clutter, emotional baggage, or fulfilling friendships.
I’ve made a list of 5 types of friendships that I don’t consider to be healthy for anyone. Now, when I find myself in the company of people that make me feel uncomfortable, I back away slowly, and no longer allow myself to feel guilty for setting healthy boundaries.
1.The friend you’re addicted to trying to change
While people change all the time, usually they do so at their own pace, and in their own season. While it’s fine to express to this person the aspects that you wish were different, don’t hold your breath for them to follow through with any lasting change. You’ll just wind up in a constant cycle of playing life coach to this person and being disappointed. Ask yourself what your motivation is for wanting to be in this friendship. Are you trying to be the hero or the saviour by being the catalyst for positive change in this person? Perhaps the relationship is a manifestation of some unresolved issue from your past. Whatever the case may be, it’s not a place you want to stay.
True love is accepting. It supports, and at times is there to hold accountability. It doesn’t seek to change the thing that it’s loving! While it is entirely possible that the person could change, but we’re living in real time, and right now you’re loving someone’s potential rather than who they actually are.
The key here is releasing control. Trust that life will cause this person to grow and change at the right time, without your help. And trust that when that happens, the Universe can bring that person back into your life so that you can both enjoy a balanced friendship. Appreciate the person for helping you uncover valuable truths about yourself. Then walk away.
2. The person you’re hanging out with out of guilt
This one’s pretty self explanatory, but can be easier said than done. If you know you’ve outgrown the friendship, but are just hanging on because you feel bad, it’s definitely time to cut the cord and move on. I know, you’ve known the person for x amount of time; you don’t want to be the bad guy and hurt their feelings. And hey, maybe one day you’ll both be on the same wavelength again and the friendship will be rekindled. Honestly, if you’re just hanging out with someone because you feel too bad to end the friendship, then obviously the relationship isn’t serving you, and it most likely isn’t serving the other person either. You deserve a friendship that is mutually beneficial and the other person deserves a friendship that is reciprocated.
3. You have completely different morals and values
While it’s valuable to have friendships outside of your own religion and belief structures, if you constantly find yourself having to compromise your own morals and ethics to be friends with someone, it’s probably time to move on. Perhaps your friend has racist, sexist or homophobic views, loves to gossip or puts others down. This type of friend will often like to assign blame to others for just about everything that’s wrong with their life and will have a hard time accepting responsibility for anything. You’ll recognize this kind of friend by a general crummy feeling you get after hanging out with them. Get out now and don’t look back.
4. The friend you can’t trust
Your own safety and wellbeing has to be your first priority, and a good friend will understand that. If someone has lied to you, stolen from you, been aggressive or betrayed you in a major way, that is a big -time red flag.
Perhaps they aren’t bad people. Maybe they are struggling with some sort of mental illness, anger issue or addiction. Perhaps they had a difficult childhood. But we all have a choice as to how we show up in the world. I don’t believe in “frenemies”: a person who will show up in your life and pretend to be your friend while doing nothing but cause trouble for you is the absolute worst thing to have.
You need to be able to trust the people you surround yourself with. If you’re about to walk into a bad relationship, business deal, or make some other kind of poor choice, you need to have a good support system around you- people who can be honest with you. People who want to see you succeed, and aren’t just consumed by their own wants and needs. You owe it to yourself to seek out people that embody the qualities of honesty, loyalty and trustworthiness. Don’t waste time waiting for this type of friend to see the light and become a decent human being. Goodbye and good riddance!
5. The friend you’re constantly bailing out of trouble
Whether it’s a late night phone call from the drunk tank, a need to borrow money or your car, or a shoulder to cry on after another dramatic situation- this friend can never seem to get their shit together and you wind up being there to pick up the pieces every.damn.time. And it can be tricky because, of course, we all need things from time to time, and you don’t want to turn your back on someone you care about. But if the friendship is at the point where you don’t even bother bringing up any of your needs or issues because you’re always busy taking care of the other person, you’re basically playing out parent-child roles rather than being part of an adult-adult relationship. You’re getting drained and at the same time most likely enabling your friend, who needs to grow up. Also, if you run into a situation where you need support or an accountability partner, don’t expect any help from your need-machine friend, who will most likely just move onto their next target.
At the end of the day, we’re all at the centre of all of our conflicts. I think that the beliefs we hold about ourselves have a lot to do with the kind of people we attract into our lives. For example, if I feel that I’m unworthy of love, I will attract people who validate that belief. As you do self work, you may find friendships and relationships shifting as your thoughts and beliefs change. Sometimes friendships fall away, not because any one person is good or bad, but because both parties have evolved and are walking different paths. In situations like this, it’s best to recognize that neither of you are to blame and learn to love the other person from afar.
People will stay in dysfunctional, toxic, or even abusive relationships for countless reasons. Personally, I have strong beliefs around showing up in the world as a kind and compassionate person, so before I walk away from a friendship, I have to be sure that it really is for the highest good of both of us, and I’m not just reacting out of anger or frustration. But there are times when I have to remember to show myself that compassion by leaving a bad situation. And honestly, walking away from an unhealthy frienship leaves me with less stress and more energy to be a better version of myself for everyone in my life, so it isn’t a selfish move.
As the new year is approaching, I am taking a look at the people that I’m walking this journey with. The friendships that light up my life, I feel gratitude for, and will try to express that appreciation to those people more often. As for the ones that don’t so much, I am challenging myself to take a good look at my reasons for keeping these friendships in my life. I also have to examine myself to see if I am exhibiting any of the behaviours that I consider to be deal breakers in others.
It’s a good idea to figure out what your own expectations of relationships are. Some of the greatest joys we’ll experience will be tied in with the people we know, so it’s important to get clear about who we want to share those experiences with!