I love relationships, especially friendships with my girls. My girls represent the different facets of who I am-the right, the wrong and the in between that is not so easy to explain. And, no matter how bizarre a relationship may be, there is some commonality and difference that makes it exist and blossom. So, when I lost both of my relationships with my best friends, I was confused, sad and even more confused the more I thought about the issue that terminated our phone calls, text messages, celebrations and consolation moments. I would have never thought in a million years that my relationship with my best friends, the women who were going to be auntie to my future children, wouldn’t be able to stand the test of time. I guess I had fallen victim to the myth: best friends forever.
I know the adage “Everything happens for a reason,” because I used to be one of those people to chant it. But, I am starting to think people only use it when they can’t fathom what the hell happened in their life. In that regard, I suppose it is easier just to say, “Oh, it was meant to happen that way” and carry on with daily routines while the issue continues to creep into your psyche every now and then. In retrospect, I believe my relationship with my best friends could have been saved had I done things differently. While I am not totally accepting blame for the demise of my relationships, I know I could have acted in a different manner. I could have at least put all the cards on the table to prevent our special bond from completely dying. By the time I had elected to discuss the issues with my besties, too much time had already lapsed; everyone had moved on and I was stagnant-still searching ways to rebuild the broken pieces. I learned some things from that period in my life. Here is my list of 5 Ways to Handle Faltering Friendships.
1. Address issues immediately.
At first sight of a problem, have a sit down with your friend and discuss the issue. It is true; no one is a mind reader. If you are feeling hurt, sad, disappointed etc. about what is happening in the relationship, talk about the reasons for those feelings. What I have learned is that women (some not all) are quick to corner their romantic partner to talk and resolve their issues. And, heck, quick to continue the relationship after no progress has been made and a plethora of new troubles have surfaced. But, when it comes to friendships with their girls, the same courtesy of a sit down to hash out problems and find solutions don’t exist. The relationship simply ends.
2. Keep other people out of your relationships. Yes, even friendships.
When my relationships were going wrong, I had my own resolution in mind. But, then, I began to talk with people who had a different view. For some reason, I began to value their perspective of the situation more than my own-I saw their vision for my life better than my own. Ultimately, I didn’t follow through on what I felt was best for me and my relationships, and I regretted it. After all, the people I talked with were not in the relationship and had their unfavorable opinion about the particular parties involved anyway.
3. Take responsibility for your role.
Everyone has a role in the movie. You can be the star or the extra; it doesn’t matter what your role is, you have a part and need to own it. Honestly, I had blamed one of my friends for the failure of our relationship until I really sat and looked at the error of my ways. The role you play can be something as minor as seeing your friend hurt and not asking what is going on with her. Even if it is your friend’s nature to withdraw and keep to herself, a true friend will still attempt to find out what is happening and how to help ease whatever is going on with her. It shows you really care and value the friendship, and not just available when things are peaches and cream.
4. Recognize that ‘Quality’ not ‘Quantity’ is what sustains a relationship.
I thought years mattered in relationships. That’s why 1, 5, 10, 20 year anniversaries are celebrated, right? So, how could 10 + years of friendship end in a blink of an eye? I began to realize it wasn’t the quantity but the quality of the friendship that would determine its sustainability. So, think long and hard about the quality of the relationship and how it has been–stressful, draining, one-sided, convenient etc. Before fighting hard to keep a relationship that shouldn’t be kept, make sure the relationship you want to save is based on its meaning. Making peace should not be about having someone to go out with on Friday night for the next 20 years. While it sounds nice to say, “This is my best friend of 30 years” (when you two only talk when it’s time to hit the street), it’s even nicer to say “This is my best friend who helps me overcome my fears.”
5. Try Couples therapy.
Therapy is always mentioned in the context of family and romantic issues. Friendships are relationships that encounter problems as well, and are just as important and essential to healthy development. Therefore, seek outside mediation from someone who is neutral to assist in opening up and communicating about past and current problems. You may discover the relationship issue is not solely based on factors within the friendship. There may be problems with other relationships e.g. family, significant other, co-workers or personal difficulties that hadn’t been disclosed.