Thursday, May 21, 2009

With Friends Like These...

A discussion about friendship came up on a forum I visit: a woman was debating whether or not to let go of a friendship with another woman, who kept disappointing her in major (and minor) ways over the years. She'd let the friend know how hurtful this behavior could be, but nothing ever changed. She'd tried to lower her expectations for this friend, but that just wasn't working - she still expected certain things of the friendship, and was still getting hurt.

During this discussion, the idea was voiced that this woman wouldn't have accepted that type of behavior from a man, if he was treating her that way, so why accept it from a woman? Bingo! I often think that women have a harder time "breaking up" with female friends than they do with partners. Is it because we are socialized to be "friends forever" and we take that literally? Do we think that something's wrong with us, if a friend treats us badly? Do we try to "fix" the relationship or the issue, like we often do with men?

Well, yes. We tend to do all of those things, but sometimes "friends forever" isn't. Just like in romantic relationships, people change, life priorities shift, and we travel different paths. And, breakups, whether opposite- or same-sex, are HARD. But sometimes they're necessary. The adage of "keep company with those who make you better" is a good rule to live by. Do your friends make you laugh? Keep your deepest, darkest secrets that you share with no one else? Lift your spirits, guide you, educate you, support you even when you make mistakes? Do they love you because you?re a unique individual, quirks and foibles and all?

Original post date: 02/20/06

Probably no one friendship fulfills *all* of these things, but if you find that a friendship is more painful than enjoyable, or more negative than happy, then it may be time to let it go. It's not easy, but sometimes it's necessary. And just like with opposite-sex relationships, don't try to lower your standards and hope that you'll stop being hurt (or saddened, or disappointed) by the relationship. Having standards that differ from someone else's doesn't necessarily mean that your own standards are too high; it simply means that they may be too high for *that* particular relationship. As we grow and mature, we realize what we personally can - and can't - accept. And knowing that much about ourselves can save a lot of time and heartache, in any kind of relationship.

The same holds true for business relationships. If your friends and peers don't support what you're doing, are they truly good for you? You may need to re-evaluate the friendship, if gently - or firmly - trying to set them straight doesn't work. Make sure your friendships are supportive and nurturing. After all, we hear enough negativity from the chattering monkeys in our own heads. Having someone else add to that will only undermine your confidence and feed your insecurities. And that's the last thing any of us need. Rather than dealing with those who drag you down, surround yourself with positive energy instead. You'll be amazed at the difference.

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