Friend or Foe – When is it time to let go?
“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never bought to mind Should old acquaintance be forgot, And days of auld lang syne.”
These are the lyrics from the strangely melancholy New Year song, usually sung with gusto when the clock strikes midnight. ‘Days of auld lang syne translates to ‘days gone by. The question is – when is it time to give up on all those friendships that are no longer edifying, have run their natural course, or in some cases have become toxic?
We all had childhood friends to some degree – you may go right back to the first day of nursery, live and play in the same street since you could ride a bike, or meet on the first scary day of secondary school.
During the teen years, friendships do tend to be about quantity rather than quality. The thrill of being away from parents, partying, perhaps going away to university, and starting work makes friendships more fluid and changeable As we settle down, perhaps with a partner. Then children, the friends that tend to stick around, are the long-term ones – people we still have things in common with.
Friends are invaluable during all stages of life.
Even if we have a happy relationship/marriage, there is always room for a shoulder to cry on, a different opinion to put some perspective on things, or just someone to go out for a drink with and talk rubbish!
Studies show that it takes between 40 and 60 hours in meaningful company to move from an acquaintance to a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours to call someone a friend, and over 200 hours before someone can be rated a best friend. Imagine how hard it can be to leave it all behind if you have invested all those hours into forming a close friendship.
But can we expect to change and grow through the years and still have the same things in common and the same views?
Studies claim that our bodies go through a 7-year cycle, where every cell dies and replace with new ones. If you are a follower of astrology, again, a 7-year cycle suggests shifts and changes in the cosmos. Therefore wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that it is tough to expect anything to stay the same?
We need friends for lots of different reasons, but should we stick with a friendship that we know has reached the end just for the sake of sentiment, and is it doing us more harm than good?
What if you are giving more to the relationship? The person in question is overly pessimistic; maybe they create or attract too much drama.
So, when is it time to call a halt to a potentially damaging relationship? Ask yourself how you feel after seeing them. Do you feel worse afterwards? Are they draining your energy? Are they even interested in you anymore? It may feel hard to analyse it so clinically, but there comes a point when you have to be honest with yourself.
Going through the separation process may mean leaning on your other support systems a little more while dealing with it, talking it through with someone unbiased, and possibly recognising your part in it. There is an inevitable grieving process to go through, and it should be recognised. The saddest part of moving on from a friendship is remembering a happy time. This could be in the form of an ‘in joke’ or a song that sparks a memory. While considering these memories, it shouldn’t be a reason to stay friends if everything else isn’t working.
What about if you are on the receiving end of a friendship breakdown?
You may feel like you had a good relationship, but the other person has suddenly gone cold on you. They avoid making contact and are difficult to pin down to arrangements, or when you bump into them, they seem like they can’t get away quickly enough. Being treated this way can be exceedingly hurtful – particularly if you feel you haven’t done anything wrong. Your lives may have started to take different paths, and the things you had in common just may not exist anymore. A sensible and helpful way to look at it is to look at what you gave to the friendship that the other person may not have gained if you hadn’t met.
An example of this is going on holiday together. If you are a seasoned traveller who is pretty good at searching out the best deals or the most excellent places to go, you may have talked about this to friends who have been caught up in your enthusiasm and decided to tag along with you. Fast forward to the end of your friendship, when they start to go away without you. You may feel sad that it has ended, but you could look back on the happy times you shared and feel proud that you introduced them to the travel bug.
At the end of any friendship, the crucial thing to remember is that people come into your life for a reason. Whilst it can be regrettable when it ends. Hopefully, you can take away valuable lessons and lasting memories if you can reason it out.
If you are findng it difficult to make new friends or you just need some extra support, we have a dedicated community group website for this reason. Next year we will be organising lots of fund events and we would love to see you there x
Article written by Nikki Blackwell