How old is your oldest friendship? I’m not asking about the connection between you and your mother or even your sibling whom you may consider your best friend. I’m asking about a true friend. Some of you may have met one of your friends during infancy through your parents like I did with one of my friends, Keywa. Now in our 40s, we’ve actually maintained a true, life-long friendship. There were years during childhood where we lost touch (after she accidentally broke my toe by dropping a weight on it), but we reconnected again in junior high. Boy do we have stories we could share, but I plead the Fifth on terms that it may incriminate us. Although we have lived in different states for about 20 years, we still communicate fairly frequently. We may go months without saying one word, but then we’ll connect and start off on the last conversation we had as if time stood still. Besties? It’s more like a sisterhood to me.
While many of you can probably relate to having a friend-like-sibling, some of you can also relate to having a friend that you wouldn’t mind if they fell off the side of the earth and were never heard from again. Yet, sometimes we hang on to friendships that died a long time ago out of loyalty, pity, or guilt. Sometimes we simply outgrow people and that’s ok. You don’t have to have a major un-friending ceremony. You can simply move on with less frequency in contact. However, there are some situations where you may feel the need for the ceremony like that little, elderly lady on that Geico commercial where she tells her friends to like the pictures on her actual wall in her living room and then tells one of the ladies that she unfriends her only to be told, “That’s not how any of this works.”
In asking several real friends how they know when it’s time to end a friendship, I received a wealth of responses, many of which were very similar in nature.
- I give. You take.
The most notable was non-reciprocity in the relationship. If you are ever in a jam and need my help, I’m there. If you start a business or produce a product, I’m in line as your first customer and I support you to the fullest. Yet, when I do something, you are nowhere to be seen in terms of support. I have to ask you to support me or beg you for something that you know you would have from me. Instead of stomping around like a kid yelling, “It’s not fair!” kindly know that everyone will not do for you what you do for them. You either except that from your friend or decide that their lack of giving is just too much, too often.
- Out-growing each other
As we get older, our interests and outlook on life changes. I wanted long, straight hair when I was growing up. Now, I love wearing my wear big and kinky and if you catch me with it straight, somebody probably held me down to achieve that look. I’ve evolved. When I was in high school, I didn’t think I’d actually go to college. Now I’m overly educated and still trying to find more things to learn. We change. Change is good. It helps us grow.
You once enjoyed the company of your crazy homie who was down for whatever. The two of you may have done some of the wildest things ever imagined, but you grew up and had kids. You changed. Wearing booty shorts and stilettos may not be your thing anymore, but crazy homie still rocks them and is at the club as a regular. She doesn’t want to hear about your playdates with the new family that moved in next door and you can’t remember keep the name of the guy she introduced you last week because she introduced you to another one last month and three more in the month prior. You’re on different paths and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that either of you has the better life, it just means you may have outgrown each other. It’s ok if you decide that you want a little distance from Crazy Homie to meet more women with more in common with your current homemaker status.
I’m sure you all have heard someone (usually a parent) say, “They started hanging with the wrong crowd.” Sometimes I want to ask how do they know their child wasn’t “the wrong crowd” because the other children’s parents are usually saying the same thing. Who started what? Sometimes the negativity is mutual. Regardless of who started what, a toxic friendship is unhealthy. I’ve seen single friends try to turn their married friends away from their spouses. I’ve seen people guilt their friends into criminal activities. I’ve seen friends pretend to be friends with someone just to get information to take back to their real friends for ill gain. Friendships can get ugly. While, I’m not advocating for vetting each potential friend, just be aware that not everyone is out for your best interest. However, when you notice that a “friend” is bringing more negativity into your life than positivity, it might be a sign to cut them out of the picture.
Ultimately, when you find that you can no longer be yourself within your friendship, it’s probably time for a re-evaluation. In places of employment, employees typically receive one or two evaluations a year. If your performance is under par, you’re looking at a possible dismissal. The report serves as your warning to get it together or be on notice that your time might be short-lived with the company. There’s nothing wrong with evaluating your friendships in the same way (minus the written report).
The next time Crazy Homie needs bail money after a wild night, you might want to take that as an opportunity to give her the end-of-friendship warning. “Listen Crazy Homie, we’ve been friends forever and I love your crazy azz, but if you call me one more time needing bail money and I have to leave my family in the middle of the night to come get you, then be warned, that will be my last time. Got it?” “Got it.” “Good!” Don’t allow guilt to keep up glued to Crazy Homie every time she needs to get out of a sticky situation. Believe me, she’ll find someone else to post her bail.