I was talking with my Mum about needing to do a friendship stocktake. New year, fresh start, all of that. Sure I’ve got some of the best friends in the world. Ones that I can tell anything to. And call on at any time. Ones I laugh and cry with. Who give me a stern talking to when I clearly need to find a new love interest, or tell me I look beautiful when I am feeling my worst.
But there are the ones that make me sad. How can I move on from them? How do you do a friendship stocktake? How do you click the unfriend button in real life?
It is hard to talk about this issue, even harder to write publicly about it, for fear I may offend. But here goes.
There are a few people in my life that continuously let me down. I’m not talking about canceling on dinner because they’re sick once or twice. I mean constantly not being able to make it, but not bothering to schedule an alternative time either. Even for missed birthday celebrations and canceled hospital visits. And not taking calls, returning texts or bothering to initiate a call. And there’s always an excuse, usually involving someone who deserves their time more than you do. The excuses become tiring, and hurtful when you see the photos of the events they’ve actually attended on Facebook.
There’s the people kept in your life for nostalgia purposes. Old lovers perhaps, but not necessarily. Nothing much being said between either of you. Not much in common. You drift apart. Large silences. Going nowhere. You’re wondering if it’s ok to call them. What do you have to say to each other? Is it worth holding on? Sometimes friends acknowledge they’ve been a bad friend. But they don’t do anything to change their ways.
Everyone’s busy. Everyone has different priorities. But everyone needs their friends to be there for them.
I don’t think friendships mean that you have to be constantly hanging out together. But they don’t work if one person is not participating. It’s one thing to have 967 Facebook friends (I actually do), or receive a nice text now and then, but if the friends that matter to you aren’t participating, then what’s the point?
I am not good at being assertive. When I try to be it comes across as bitchy. So instead I timidly say nothing, and am continued to be disappointed by some people. Friends have told me to lower my expectations about others. But I don’t think expecting a friend to keep their appointment or turning up on time is unreasonable. A few years ago I had a friend who was constantly late or canceling plans with me. I decided to talk to her about this, but it ended badly. And now, she’s no longer my friend. But what if I had not addressed the issue? Would she still be letting me down today?
I quite often don’t ask people to do things with me for fear of being let down.
The Age did an article on how to cut ties with friends. Readers suggest cutting ties is more of a woman thing and men don’t have the difficulty of unfriending.
So I need your advice? How do I cut the friends out of my life who aren’t participating? How do I avoid burning bridges? It is hard making friends as an adult. I don’t think it’s as simple as unfriending them from Facebook (and you know the shock of seeing that you’re no longer a friend of someone on Facebook? Unfriending is harder in real life.). Do I talk to them about my decision? Do I send them this blog entry? Am I the one who has already been unfriended?
It’s easy to tell people how much you value them. And it’s easy to end a friendship when they have done something definable to hurt or betray you. But it’s not easy having a conversation about your consideration to unfriend them.