Faith Finding Fulfillment Friendship Happiness Reflections

How to Make Loosening the Ties of Friendships Easier

Getting upset with your friends is no use. All you can control is how you react, so take charge by loosening up.

“Make new friends, but keep the old

One is silver and the other is gold.”

When I was in first grade, one of my curly-haired classmates and I were sitting on the swings at recess when I asked her, “How do you get friends?”

Her response: “I think you just ask them if they want to be your friend, and if they say yes, you have a friend.” She turned to me and asked “Do you want be my friend?”

We were six, and that same girl attended my wedding twenty years later.

If only making– and keeping– friends were that simple as we grow older. Back then, we threw around the phrase “best friends forever” at the same rate we swipe right on our phones today.

I’ve always had a hard time of letting go of friendships, but in adulthood, I’ve realized it’s necessary for my own sanity; if not letting go entirely, at least loosening the ties a bit. People grow apart for various reasons– perhaps by the literal distance of living in different cities, their own personal development, the milestones and people in their lives that change their interest, or values that may change due to major life events.  It wasn’t until my very late twenties (ok, fine, early thirties) that I started realizing how important it was to be okay with loosening the ties, for my own happiness, as much heartache as it may cause in the near-term.

It’s in my nature to care and expect too much. When I fall for someone, I fall hard, and that goes for friendships too. I have a wonderful circle of friends and I love them, but over the years there have been a some with whom I have really clicked, and that’s when I go all-in with my investment. That’s also why it has felt that much more painful when we’ve grown apart when life happens.

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To avoid or minimize the heartache, I’ve trained myself in the following ways to make the separation easier.

  1. Stop holding people to unrealistic standards:  We can’t expect other people to feel, think, or act the same way we do, and as we know from the 5 Love Languages, not everyone expresses or wants to receive love, friendship and affection in the same way. I noticed that once I had labeled someone my closest or best friend, I set very high expectations of them compared to my other friends, and that wasn’t fair. Once I freed our relationship from those expectations, I was much happier and didn’t feel hurt. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when they showed up in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Is this a pessimistic or unhealthy view of friendship? Perhaps. But so were the guilt trips and resentment I was laying on them previously.
  2. Don’t make it personal: As we grow older, the demands of everyday life are just too great. While it’s true that we “make time for what’s important,” if we start thinking someone has slighted us anytime they don’t call us back, we’ll go nuts, like I did. Instead, I am happy when I do receive a call or text from a friend I haven’t heard from in awhile, but I’ve stopped obsessing about whether they’ve stayed in touch or not. I’ll make the effort every now and then, and if they don’t reciprocate, I understand that life gets busy and I cherish the time we do have together.
  3. Find ways to make new friends: I was so intent on keeping my old friends at the “gold” level that during college, I struggled to make my new, “silver” friends. I was focused on trying to keep in touch with the old ones, when many of them has moved on to make new memories with new friends, which is to be expected. We know from romantic relationships that it’s unhealthy to rely solely on any one relationship, so I’ve found avenues such as Meetups, nonprofit groups, networking events and even mutual friends to meet new people and continually build new friendships, and now I have different groups of people with whom I can connect for different aspects of my life.
  4. Identify your few constants: I’m so grateful for the circle of friends that I have, but I also know that “life can happen” at any moment. People could move, or life events could change the frequency or nature of how we spend time with them. A few years ago, I would have thought that family don’t get to count in this category because they are always supposed to be in your life. I put some of my closest friends in the “constant” category. But now that I see how life can push people back into the “when convenient” category,  it’s my family that has continued to be my constant:  I have best friends in my husband and sister, and mentors and confidantes in my parents, with whom I have become closer as an adult. I know they will always be there for me, unconditionally, regardless of what life throws at us.

With all that said, even after “letting go” or loosening the ties, if anyone needs me, I’m there to support, love, and encourage them. That will never change. However, altering my mindset and the way I react to situations has helped ease the pain and create healthier relationships.

Love Blog Challenge

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This post is part of The Love Blog Challenge, a daily blog link-up every weekday in February with daily prompts. As part of the challenge, writing about family with me today are cohosts, Brita Long, creator of the Love Blog Challenge, and Laura.

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Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. On her blog and social media, you’ll discover more than authentic storytelling–she’s brutally honest about pursuing a fulfilling and joyful life even with Crohn’s Disease and depression.

LauraRomberger-DowntownWallMural

Laura is a part-time artist hoping to go full time some day. She has a little black bucket list book filled with adventures. She writes with the hope to inspire. She’s known to be quite the workaholic sometimes. She’s an INTJ- A and she believes a cup of hot tea can solve almost anything. She embraces perseverance. She’s spent a lot of time emerged in self-discovery practices over the last several years, and finds she is still learning as she goes. She is here in the blogging world because she believes the buzz about self-care, wellness, and self-love needs to be heard. You can also find her writing over at www.blogfivebiz.com chatting about blogging and business stuff.

Today’s Love Blog prompt is about heartache: Have you ever experienced a hard breakup? Did you initiate it, or did the other person? Do you mourn any lost friendships? How does emotional pain connect to love? What are your experiences with grief?

Love Blog Challenge Rules

The first 2 rules below are mandatory! (The 3rd rule is mandatory if you want to submit more than a single link). All the other rules are optional. Each link-up will remain open for 4 days to give you time to catch up. So if you don’t write Monday’s prompt until Wednesday, that’s okay. You can still go back to Monday’s link-up and submit your link. These are the Love Blog Challenge rules!

  1. Follow the prompt. The prompts are open-ended to give you creative freedom. But if your blog post doesn’t relate to the prompt at all, I will delete it from the blog link-up.
  2. Comment on the link before yours and at least one other link. Get to know your fellow bloggers!
  3. Yes, you can link-up an old post (like from last year’s challenge!), or even multiple posts, as long as they all follow the prompt. Please limit yourself to 3 links per prompt.
  4. Follow your host (Belle Brita) and the co-hosts on your preferred form of social media.
  5. Use the Love Blog Challenge button and/or link back to the blog link-up to spread the word!
  6. Share your posts on social media using the hashtag #LoveBlog2020.

1 comment on “How to Make Loosening the Ties of Friendships Easier

  1. Thanks for today’s beautiful inspiring read 🙏

    Like

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