Thursday, July 7, 2011

Difficult Friendships

So what do you do when a friend becomes very selfish over time and turns the friendship into a very one-sided relationship? A good friend of mine is in that position lately with a friend of hers and I’ve been in similar situations myself. That’s a tough one, isn’t it?

I assume in my friend’s case that the two of them started out in some kind of mutually supportive scenario; that’s usually how people become friends. There is some kind of connection socially or through common interests and two people help each other out or listen to each other’s problems or whatever and a friendship develops. People who mostly care about themselves, perhaps at the exclusion of others, may eventually turn that friendship into an “it’s all about me” relationship; they might not even realize they’re doing it.

The friend who is being used –that’s what it really is, isn’t it? – can become resentful. They might try to change the balance but in some cases that won’t ever happen.

My friend did not actually ask me for advice on this and I’m only using that situation as an example. My friend is obviously conflicted about this but is unwilling at this time to give up on the friendship. A big example of a time when I was in a position like that was almost 20 years ago. I had a difficult time letting go but it was clear to me for a long time that my good nature was being taken advantage of. I finally let the friendship die. The less I was available to be sucked into that friend’s negativity, the more that friend sought other people to serve that need. It took a year of unpleasantness and being on the receiving end of attempted guilt trips but I finally moved on and have no regrets about it.

The very nature of friendship, in my opinion, requires give and take … balance. The scales don’t have to be evenly balanced but true friendships develop when two people help fill voids in each other or shore each other up in difficult times or are there to listen and console or just share good times. That’s my take on it anyway. Life is too short for bad friendships.

1 comment:

Bill the Butcher said...

There is a high level of toxicity in a lot of relationships, unfortunately. At a certain point one has to make a call whether game is worth the candle; whether sacrificing one's own happiness is worth it. Usually it isn't, but also it's usually really difficult to break away.