I am grateful for friendships. I believe that powerful, healthy friendships can inspire, breathe life, and encourage you in the valleys of life. These friendships will challenge you, correct you, and push you to do better and be better. When God places this kind of friend in your life, you hold on tight. I’ve written about that before about two of my closest friends.
Yet, I wanted to tackle this subject from the other side. What happens when a friendship is no longer life giving and instead seems to choke the life out of you? When instead of feeling challenged you feel defeated and instead of pushing you to your best, this friendship brings out all the ugly sides of you? What happens when a friendship is no longer very positive and produces no good fruit in your life? What do you do?
The Bible does say after all, “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” – Proverbs 17:17 NLT
But what happens when a friendship turns toxic? What choices do you have? In my opinion, a pretty simple one. You end it and love from a distance. What I’m NOT saying: drop your friends at the drop of a hat anytime they’re struggling. Nope. I’m talking about a “friend” that consistently and continuously drains all the life out of you and more. Keep reading.
How do you know when and if you should do that?
1. The friendship is no longer life giving for either of you.
If friendship is supposed to be refreshing for the soul and it no longer happens to be, then it’s time to move on. A friend should not feel like a burden. When I spend time with good friends, I leave feeling happy and encouraged. The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. If the only thing that’s sharp about this friendship is the attitude given both ways, re-examine.
2. You are constantly pouring in with very little return.
Have you ever had a friendship where you’ve given your all only to receive nothing in return? Yes, it’s better to give than to receive, but a friendship where you’re always giving with very little reciprocated will suck all of the life out of you. These are the “friends” that you never hear from unless they are in crisis. Then you are supposed to drop your life to tend to theirs and if you can’t, you aren’t a good friend. No. Just no.
3. It’s always all about them with little interest in your life.
I love to talk, but even more so I like to listen [but don’t get me wrong, I can talk too]. I like to ask questions and learn more about a person. There’s a 90% chance I’ll ask something that’s personal or that most people might not dare to ask. I know this because my husband tells me all the time to relax on that end, but I can’t because I genuinely like learning about people. However, there are people who will demand that your entire world revolves around them without a simple, “HOW ARE YOU THOUGH?!” This isn’t cool. If very little interest is given to what’s going on in your life then it may be time to reevaluate.
4. It brings out the worst side of you.
If your friends bring out the worst aspects of your personality, it’s time to say #byefelicia. I won’t even elaborate on this one because I feel like it’s pretty self-explanatory.
5. It’s full of drama and they are petty as all get out.
I HATE DRAMA. There are people who thrive on drama and would love nothing better than to eat, sleep, and breathe it. Drama with a side of crisis please. No thanks! Save the drama for your mama. High school was more than ten years ago and I have zero interest in going back! People who will get mad over petty things (LIKE OMG, CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE DIDN’T SAY HI TO ME OR INVITE ME TO HER PARTY! *Insert Hair Toss Here*) have no place at my table. I’m a middle school teacher who deals with pettiness all day long (SO AND SO TOOK MY FIDGET SPINNER!) and will be over a petty drama filled person in two seconds flat. Ain’t. Nobody. Got. Time. For. That.
Questions You Might Have:
But what if we’ve been friends forever? He’s my childhood friend!
Just because something has been going on for a long time doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good thing. It may be a friendship of comfort or convenience. In my opinion, that is not enough of a good reason to maintain that kind of friendship if it looks like the reasons that I listed above.
What if my mission is to help them? After all, I really want to help them.
If you feel you have been specifically called by God to do that, then, by all means, go forth and do so. But so many times we try to save something or someone that we have no business saving. There comes a certain point when helping someone begins to hurt them instead of helping them. You will wear yourself thin trying to constantly help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
Real Talk: I didn’t write this post because I have always been the epitome of a perfect friend. There have been a lot of times where I’ve failed and times where even now, I still get it wrong! But as I get older, I want to surround myself with people who will build me up, encourage me, challenge me, and put me in my place when I need to be put in my place. In the same regard, I want to be that person for others!
So here is my final thought: take a close look at some of the friendships in your life. Take a close look at yourself. Evaluate.