As we get older, we come to value friendship differently than we once did when we were children. Recently, a friend of mine was very upset because she realized that many of the people she called friends, really weren’t. They were jealous. They were judgmental. They were insincere. They weren’t supportive. And maybe worst of all, they made her feel badly about herself. She dreaded spending time with them, but continued to do so, and it was eating at her self-esteem and normally positive, cheery outlook.
At some point, we wake up and realize that these unhealthy relationships are detracting from our life. They diminish our happiness and joy, and instead, sap our energy and bring us down. When this happens, the healthiest thing we can do is to let go.
There are many reasons we are afraid to let go, even when we should. Some of the most common reasons are described below, with a new perspective offered:
- History:You have been friends for years, maybe even decades. You have a sense of obligation because if the friendship ends, you feel as though all of the time you spent building your friendship is lost. New Perspective: Your history is history. Your future is yet to be determined. Letting go of the past allows us to move forward and create happier, more healthy relationships that are rewarding.
- Fear: You are afraid to end a friendship because you are fearful of being alone or not finding another friend. New Perspective: Letting go of an unhealthy friendship frees up time to look for new friends. Instead of dwelling on the negative, think about the positives you will gain if you let go of an unhealthy friendship: you’ll feel better, you’ll gain self-respect, you’ll meet new people, and will potentially build healthier relationships.
- Guilt: You feel guilty or an obligation to maintain the friendship for one reason or another. New Perspective: It is time to put yourself and your needs first. When we maintain friendships out of guilt or a sense of duty, we aren’t being authentic to ourselves or to the friendship. Further, we are negating our own needs.
As difficult as it may be, letting go of unhealthy friendships is okay. Friends who can love you and accept you for who you are is most important.
Are you struggling to let go of an unhealthy friendship?