When to let a friend go?

June 09, 2013

Sometimes we find that we need to let a friend go. Sometimes we need to break up with a friend in order to improve our psychological health and tranquility.  Research shows that having ambivalent friendships in our life can be more stressful than having a hostile or negative relationship. Ambivalent friends are those from which we don’t know what to expect, the ones that react in surprising ways and keep us wondering if we have done something wrong. Relationship conflict causes huge stress and has an impact on our health.

A good friend adds value to life and enriches it. A bad friend creates a toxic environment and drains energy. Friendships are based on equality. Friends are our peers, our equals and that is a good way to evaluate our friendships. Is this a balanced and fair relationship of give and take? Or is this relationship making me feel hurt and drained? If you are thinking this might be your case, try answering the following questions:

Am I receiving as much as I am giving? Am I asking for too much? Am I giving too much? Am I working too hard in this relationship? Does this person make me feel good about myself? Who am I with this person? Can I trust him or her? Pay special attention to signs of anxiety or depression.

When you find the need to move on from one of these relationships it is important to do it consciously. If it’s a new friendship or someone you have not shared so much with, you can just distance yourself and limit the contact. Hopefully the other part will receive your message and let the relationship go, too. But when it is a friend you have had for a while with whom you have shared your pain and joy, it is important to talk about it. It might be similar to breaking up and it should have a similar acknowledgment. Tell your friend what is happening and be honest about your feelings. This might be the last good friend deed you can do for your friend. And after it is done give yourself time to grieve and acknowledge the loss.

Also, identify the relationships in your life that are positive, relationships where you feel supported and able to share both your pain and your accomplishments. Reserve your energy for the good friends and honour these relationships.