When To Let Go Of A Friendship

by Katya Polo

Anyone who has a hardy appetite for life treasures those truly great moments that comprise the thrilling experience of living. Regardless of one’s circumstances, there are always going to be those experiences that are, and always will be, impossible to forget. And many of those moments wouldn’t be quite what they are without those we shared them with. But while those moments don’t last, who’s to say how long our friendships do?

The one constant in life is change. So what happens when people change, and how do we know when to let them go? First, it’s important to understand the difference between change and growth. In the Oscar nominated movie Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig’s and Rose Byrne’s characters bicker over this very subject. The fact of the matter is, you can change and not grow, but you can’t grow and not change.

Someone can change – for better or for worse – by hanging out with a certain new crowd or developing new habits, but they don’t necessarily have to learn from the experience. The growth of a person, however, requires a certain level of understanding and appreciation of their experience, rather than just acknowledgement that something was altered.

The problem is that everybody grows at different rates. Some, it seems, never grow at all. At some point, you start to realize that the one friend who was your best pal from five years ago is the same exact person as he was five years ago. The hardest thing to do is to let go of friendships. They don’t require that dreaded “breakup” conversation as you would need with a significant other, but they do take similar mental and emotional tolls. Most friendships in our lives don’t last – they dissipate with time. But someone, somewhere down the line, makes the decision to either hold on to a certain relationship, or allow it to further fade away.

So how do we know which friendships to hold on to and which ones to try and save? There are three basic things which you need to consider:

1. Weight

Of course, this does not pertain to the physical weight of your friend. This is the emotional and mental weight that your friendship bares. If you realize that this person brings down your mood more often than they lift it up, it’s a warning sign. Everybody goes through rough patches and we can never expect anyone to be happy all the time. However, if a person constantly brings you down and drags their own problems into your life, they’re being a burden and more importantly, they’re being selfish.

No true friend will ever intentionally make you upset. Venting and airing out troubles is one thing, but letting those troubles consume both your lives is another.

2. Perception

Our ideologies and theories about life change with us as we grow. This is why most childhood friendships rarely last a substantial amount of time. When we’re young, our priorities are generally the same. Without any real responsibilities or worries, we can see eye to eye about how to handle situations because they’re not difficult to handle. This changes as we age.

Once we start entering the real world, the second we even think to take the first step, our own personal principles are tested. An important part of our lives is coming to terms with what our priorities are, and how to go about reaching our goals. We all have our own versions of success.

And this is not to say that your friends need to have the same goals and ideas of success as you, because that’s rarely going to be the case. What you have to decide for yourself is whether or not this person shares similar morals and understands your priorities. For example, you might be the type of person that keeps to yourself and would prefer to enjoy a quiet dinner with a few friends. Your friend, on the other hand, won’t show up to the dinner unless he or she invites everyone they know and can finish the night off with endless rounds of shots. You want the intimacy of conversation. They want a scene. How can you sustain a true friendship with someone whose priorities are so far from yours?

Of course, we all have those friends who are totally opposite from us – the people that allow us to see the contrast between personalities. But those are more acquaintances than they are long-term friendships. The fact is, if you and your friend are not going in the same general direction with long-term goals, you won’t get very far as a pair.

3. Understanding.

As stated before, the likelihood of having the same goals and dreams as your friend is miniscule. What’s important is that this person understands the direction that you’re going, what you want, and how you plan to get it. They don’t have to agree with you, and they don’t have to live their life accordingly – as long as they can grasp the way you feel about it.

If something were to go wrong with the plans you had for yourself, who would you want by your side? Someone who didn’t know what advice to give because they never really fully understood what you wanted, or someone who did and could potentially offer advice about how to get it? The answer should be pretty simple. We’re not at that stage anymore where the main focus is what to wear or where to go for the night. There is a lot to consider now when we’re faced with a dilemma. It goes beyond trust when seeking that kind of help. You can whole-heartedly trust someone, but what does that do for you if that person doesn’t get what it is you’re after?

There are many factors to consider when evaluating your friendships but those are three main points important to consider. People will change and people will grow but if they can sense when they’re being a burden and understand what you want out of life, you’ll be happier long-term with that kind of friend by your side. If a friend is holding you back, are they really a friend? It’s up to you to decide.

Kathy Polo | Elite.