“I’ll be there for you (when the rain starts to pour), I’ll be there for you (like I’ve always been before), I’ll be there for you (because you’re there for me too).” The chorus to the theme song of the hit TV series ‘Friends’ is indelibly marked in my brain forever. The closeness, loyalty, and trust these six friends had was one of my secret addictions and yet ten years later the show is over and the friends and I have moved on.
There are many reasons why we might move on from a friendship, whether it is that they are negative, jealous, competitive, lack loyalty or pure and simply bring out the worst in us. Research has shown that we stick too long in outdated friendships for fear of letting go of someone that has been in our lives for a long time. But having the type of friendship that at one moment is sometimes supportive and positive and the next negative and destructive can be very stressful. If you have a few of these friendships yourself here is a way to decide whether you want to “let her know or let her go.”
1. With a pen and paper handy, write down your list of friends. Real friends! I am not talking about the 600 people that you have collected on Facebook! But pick your top five. I always say if you can count your good friends on one hand then you are doing rather well!
2. One at a time with each friend in mind, answer these questions:
A. Do they bring the best out in you?
B. Do you trust them?
C. Do you feel that they are loyal to you?
D. Do you feel that they are completely supportive?
E. Do you feel more energized after spending time with them?
F. Is this an updated friendship? (Do they know who you are at this moment in time?)
3. If you have answered ‘yes’ to all questions then great, you have a fantastic friendship. If you have answered ‘no’ to any of the above, then write down what it is that you are at odds with that particular friend about that you haven’t yet expressed.
4. Can you drop this issue by yourself without it affecting how you feel about them or do you feel it will be in the friendship’s best interest to have a chat about it?
5. If you think that you need to talk to your friend then find an appropriate time and place where you can be loving and honest and tell them how you feel. If, like many, you are someone who finds confrontation difficult, then start by saying something along these lines…
“Sometimes I get frightened to express how I feel as our friendship is so important to me. At the same time I want to make sure that I am completely clear with you and for that reason I want to tell you….”
6. Give your friend the opportunity to agree or disagree with your perspective. Stay loving, even if they get defensive. Keep in mind that you are trying to build a bridge!
7. Once you have discussed it. Both of you let it go, give each other a big hug and move on.
If, however you talk to your friend and you still feel that they are being negative, jealous, competitive or whatever it is that is driving you nuts then wish them well on their path and let them go. In the words of the great Herman Hesse “Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”