Heads- I Stay, Tails- I go

Advice for making taxing decisions about friendships, and not by tossing a coin on google.

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have been in friendship limbo- a weird patch of uncertainty where we don’t know whether to stay in or leave a friendship. There are several catalysts that can lead us to limbo land, and the tricky part is that the only way to get out of it is to make an ultimate decision. Like Marilla Cuthbert choosing whether to keep Anne or not, you may feel torn about the outcomes of two completely contrasting options. Unlike Marilla’s initial quick judgement, I definitely recommend taking just enough time decide what you want to do. 

If you’re unsure about your text move, don’t stress about it. Take the time you need. Are friendship breakups terrible? yes, but so are unhealthy and toxic friendships. Whether your friendship limbo is a result of the ever changing dynamics, circumstances or conflicts, it is worth gaining some perspective on the friendship and checking in with yourself by asking questions like these: 

  1. Does this friendship bring joy to me? 
  2. Does this person make my life better by being in it? 
  3. Is this person treating me with love and respect?

For now, with these three questions in mind, let’s get going.

Should I stay if the circumstances are bad?

Sometimes, the choice to end or continue a friendship only comes down to the current circumstances. Maybe your friend is moving to a different city. Maybe you’re both in the same city but are attending different schools or colleges. Either way, most friendships begin only because the circumstances were favourable. You were both in the same class, shared the same interests, watched the same movie & shows or maybe you were neighbours since childhood. But, circumstances change, it’s life as we know it.

To help you bring clarity to the situation, you can start by referring to the questions above. If this is friendship makes you feel valued and loved, you have your answer. However, there are more things to think about as well, like how much energy and time you’re willing to spend on maintaining a long-distance friendship. Long-distance friendships are no doubt tough, but can also be insanely rewarding. 

Make an effort to call and text them at least once a week. Be understanding during the weeks where you don’t talk to each other. From time zone differences to hectic schedules, remind yourself that you won’t be able to be in contact with each other every day. This can at times seem like a lot, if you’re not cool with putting this much effort into maintaining your friendship, then that is completely alright. Similarly, if the friend hasn’t been particularly a positive person in your life, think about the new circumstances as a sign to let go of the friendship. 

We’re growing apart, but should I stay?

When you realize that things just aren’t the same. There, again, can be several catalysts behind this realization: the negative comments that they passed and later laughed them off but you can’t stop thinking about, an unsatisfying meetup or stumbling upon something they said before that now deeply hurts you. The important part here is that you can’t get this new information out of your head, you can’t undercut the blatant incompatibility and are now left to decide which move to make next. Do you give the friendship a shot and try to save it, or do you let it slip away? How do you know that this isn’t just a phase? 

Growing apart is distressing, perplexing and often destabilizing, which can often cause resentment and anger. However, feelings like these are negative, we want to avoid holding onto them and instead, advocate open and honest conversations with the friend. If, after referring to the above questions, you conclude that your friendship with your friend is worth recovering and working upon, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Growth is usually a good thing, people changing usually means they’re growing into the person they want, like or are supposed to be.
  • This could just be a phase. Often in long friendships, there are periods you don’t talk for days and days, even weeks, because your personalities were, point-blank, totally incompatible and contrasting. But only temporarily. 
  • Before you make the decision to cut off a close friend, consider openly communicating with them. Call them and say, “Hey, I feel like we’re not on the same page right now. This friendship matters a lot to me and I want to maintain it, even if that means it’s going to be different.”

When I think about changing relationships, I think about this quote that I found on tumblr- “People change and forget to tell each other.” Just like you’re not trying to hurt anyone when you change, no one else is intentionally trying to hurt you when they change. We have to let the people we love and care about do what’s best for them, and sometimes, that means letting them do their own thing while we do ours!