When It’s Okay to Outgrow a Friendship
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I’m very snake like when it comes to friendships.
Not in a bad way — but I outgrow people who would otherwise stunt my growth, like a snake sheds its skin.
I used to be a part of larger cliques and a part of multiple cliques all around. I was a floater in high school. I hung out with almost everyone, never tying myself down to just one specific type of person because if you just had one quality that intrigued me, we were meant to be.
I have also had my fair share of fallouts and miscommunications with people I believed I would be friends with well into our older years, baby-sitting each other’s children. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Through social media I get to see my older friends and what they’re doing now and get a glimpse of what my life would be like if I were still running with the old crew — and it’s bleak.
I wasn’t always this way. I used to have a hard time letting go of friendships and relationships as the optimistic pessimist I am. I was constantly needing to see if I could change the situation to my advantage. Seeing all the potentials the relationship didn’t have because I never wanted to be the one to say, “This is not working.”
There’s a stigma to being the person who ends relationships, vilifying ourselves and others when someone HAD to be the one to be honest. I would hold on to the worst relationships with everyone from exes to friends from high school. I felt the need to maintain contact and force a relationship with any and all people because it’s in my nature to let everyone know I am and will always be available for them and regardless of effortless drifting; I was always a call away.
As I got older the terms and conditions of friendships seemed magnanimous with those of a relationship. Not a healthy civilized relationship or an “Oprah-like relationship” (I coined the phrase) but like a Jerry Springer relationship. Friends with jealousy issues, co-dependency issues, trust issues, baggage issues. Needy friends, inconsistent friends. It’s a headache and a half.
I’m not as limber with my friendships as I used to be as a teenager because as an adult, friendships seem to come with stipulations. And sometimes the circumstances of which we keep contact with people aren’t valid enough to justify maintaining unhealthy bonds with them.
As human beings it is natural to feel the need to fill the void of companionship with fillers and build close platonic bonds with others. But sometimes we fill those voids with people who have no regard for us as human beings and there are only so many times I’m willing to attempt to vent my life’s frustrations to someone who turns the conversations inward and focuses on their own issues instead; or the “friend” who only ever has a reason to call when they need to borrow something or the friend who always wants to come out with you but never wants to pay.
Some of our closest relationships are toxic in nature and do nothing but include someone else’s drama in our own lives. How many peaceful nights are going to be ruined by a “friend’s” fight with their significant other? Why are we sitting in your boyfriend’s apartment complex watching to see if another woman comes out of his home? We all want to be there for our friends but what about the friends who bring more drama than peace?
Then there’s longevity. I reached a point in life where how long I have known someone isn’t a valid enough reason or excuse to keep them around. Neither is seeing their potential or their current situation. Sympathy can sometimes be a crutch we use to justify staying in tumultuous situations because we don’t want to let anyone down. We sacrifice our own image, time, energy and efforts to assist someone who we wouldn’t even want to be around if we knew who they’d turn out to be before we got attached.
How many “I don’t want to go out with her, but I already said no too many times” conversations will you have with yourself before you realize you need to end the relationship? Sometimes it is more you than it is them. But think of how much they actually suffer knowing you don’t want to be around them. How that hurts their feelings in itself. The same way our inconsistent friend might be shady or hard to track down making you feel isolated or unimportant.
I had to come to the realization that I am no longer in any place in my life where I want to baby someone or nurture anyone just to save them a place in my life. From jealousy of opportunity to the jealousy of your free time that comes from your friends with kids or other adult obligations, shedding skin is a natural way to safely mature in life without damaging yourself attempting to salvage a broken or fractured relationship with someone you no longer have anything in common with. Remain friendly but not isolated unless you need time to grow but stop catering to the egos of people in your life who aren’t there to build you, grow you, inspire you or change your life for the better… Or at least bring over an extra bottle of wine when you’ve run out. Real friendship.
It’s okay to outgrow a friendship. Actually, it’s more than okay. It’s better than being sometimes-y or frustrated. Understanding that you don’t actually owe anyone any portion of your time is critical to your decision making skills and liberating.
I have minimal friends but the ones that I have eliminate my stress and don’t add on to it. It’s ok to be the one to decide that you need to do something different, just as it is fine to allow yourself to gravitate away from someone. Its actually nice to not have plans EVERY weekend. Just be true to what you want.