Source: Photo by Kristin Meekhof
Relationships, regardless of their origin (professional, work, family, social) can endure difficult times. As humans, imperfect behavior can be expected. Yet, painful words said with force can forge a change in the direction a relationship. Overcoming those difficult times with class and building a stronger bond might be your goal. However, the stressful silence between you and your friend (i.e., partner, relative) can also leave you wondering if should emotionally break ties. Before declaring defeat and deciding to end your friendship, here are ten questions (in no order of importance) to ask yourself:
1. Ask yourself- Would you recommend your friend as a great friend to others? In the business community, we consider others for certain career positions based not just on their abilities, but also their personalities. Ask yourself if there was a job posting named “Best Friend” would this person get the job? And ask yourself what qualities they lack for the job and what strengths they bring to the table.
2. Ask yourself- Do you feel elevated when in this person’s presence? Everyone has their days and weeks, and this not to say you just delete them from your “friend” list because they had a bad day and shared it with you over dinner. However, if you constantly find your mood is deflated after leaving their presence either because they put you down or are negative about life in general this can be valuable information.
3. Ask yourself- Is this someone I wouldn’t mind getting stuck with on an island? While this sounds extreme, you get the point. If you could chose one person to be on an island with is this the one friend you would chose? And just let your response sink in.
4. Ask yourself – What are your fears in ending the friendship? This is the time to get real with yourself and ask why you are afraid to call it quits? Are you scared that others will gossip about you? Are you worried others won’t invite you to their events? Are you freaked out that your image will be tarnished?
5. Ask yourself- Can you be completely transparent with your thoughts and feelings in this person’s presence? If you find yourself editing your remarks because they are judgemental, this too is important information. A relationship that gives you the feeling of complete acceptance where you don’t have to hide behind an image is a sign of a healthy connection.
6. Ask yourself- Can you share your accomplishments without minimizing your actions? When you speak about your successes do you find yourself trying to play small? Some people are actually jealous of their friends and will minimize their “wins” so to speak. People who encourage you to keep moving on the path of success and praise your hard earned wins are those you want to keep in your circle. Good friends naturally help you lean into your strengths.
7. Ask yourself- Does this person charge up my confidence level? Even the most successful people deal with moments of self- doubt. The point here is not to over inflate your self- esteem, but if you’re struggling with something there is a fine balance between tough love and the cyclone of crushing confidence. As a life coach, I can share with you countless conversations when clients are in tears sharing how their friends put them down, darken their sky, and leave a mark.
8. Ask yourself- Is this person a “taker”? The dark truth is there are people who are only out for themselves in each and every relationship. They are predators by nature and will use you. It doesn’t matter how authentic and powerful your soul might be. The bottom line is you can’t change their actions.
9. Ask yourself – What does this person add to my life? If you’re in the stage of contemplating a friend break- up, then you are already to the point where you realize things aren’t peaceful. If you looked at this relationship as one of emotional currency and you feel each time you leave their presence (rather it is by the phone, text, in person) that you are emotionally depleted , in emotional debt, then it might be the time to examine your journey. Being human as you know isn’t always about feeling uplifted by each time but if this person overall gives you wisdom, unconditional love, and joy then this is a rich friendship.
10. Ask yourself – What role do you play in their life? While it is impossible to see the friendship with complete objectivity since we all have a blind spot for our own interactions think about what role they are in your community. They might be the one you can call literally in the middle of the night and with no questions asked they will give you deep support. They may be the one who helps you connect with the sacred and holy. Or they could be the one where you are constantly trouble shooting their problems for them.
Breaking up with a “friend” might cause you to rethink everything you are doing, but it may also give you a sense of freedom. Remember, you can’t change other people. Listen to your body because it will give you feedback when it comes to this situation. If you get heartburn just thinking about seeing them or replying to their email, your body might be telling you something. Surrounding yourself with good people is a sign you are practicing self- love.