We don’t know how to phase people in and out of our lives without getting attached. We just don’t. Granted, sometimes we have life-long friends who grow and change as we do, but that’s often not the case. Circumstances change. We change. And we’re not supposed to spend forever with people who don’t help us to enjoy life or teach us things about the world or ourselves or who generally don’t serve a purpose other than to frustrate us. Sometimes it’s just better to acknowledge that a friendship has run it’s course and that not every friendship, much like relationships in general, is meant to be a life-long thing. Accepting that is much better than trying to hold onto the pieces that are left. It’s the strain of trying to do so with people who don’t fit us anymore that really does us in. So very often, the circumstances will do the phasing for us, and maybe it’s not the worst thing if we let them.
1. Sometimes the cardinal rules are broken. You’re dating an ex. You’ve “sided” with someone else. You’ve done something you established was a friendship no-no in middle school and have realized that it’s somehow still applicable in adulthood. And maybe these limits are set for a reason. Maybe we don’t deserve to give our time and energy to people who choose these things over us. Maybe it’s the best way that we’re shown who is really worth keeping around. Maybe it’s even more important to consider whether or not we choose our own interest over the feelings of a “friend.” Because when the former takes precedence to an unhealthy degree, we should be taught something about that relationship, it’s indicative of how we really feel about that person.
2. Sometimes you move to different towns or states or countries and the time between your phone calls increases and sometimes you let that happen and appreciate the contact you still have, no matter what it looks like in comparison to what it used to be. But sometimes our egos get too inflated, fearing the unthinkable possibility that we are now secondary, and we fumble our way into a huge mess of iron strong defense mechanisms and passive aggressive text messages. At that point, it’s usually better that you let yourselves go different ways, because you’ve already put something petty before your friendship. You’ve begun to drift…
3. …And sometimes you just do. You drift. You don’t suit each other anymore. You don’t have anything in common, and you don’t have anything more than small talk over drinks. They’re not someone you think to call immediately when something happens. And sometimes that’s just fine for people: that’s how they want their relationships to function. But more often, that’s not the case at all.
4. Sometimes you let too much frustration or irritation fall to the wayside, for fear of starting an unnecessary argument over something that you can self-modulate to deal with without having to involve the other person. This, however, is a temporary fix that leads to catastrophic consequences. Because it’s when you fall into this habit of not expressing your needs and expectations so that you can both adapt and adjust to your relationship that you end up in a monumental fight that you never get over– one that continues on because you’ve finally opened the floodgates to everything you’ve been withholding. It’s unfortunate, but friendships are usually never the same after that. These are usually easier to let go of, because you can fill that space with anger and resentment, but that will pass eventually, and if you’re lucky, the most you’ll get out of the ordeal is a first-hand lesson in one of the most important relationship rules ever (speak now, you can’t forever hold your peace).
5. Sometimes priorities shift, and sometimes, things replace what used to be your time together. Things that serve one or both people better. Things that don’t have to be other people or friendships, but anything that we subconsciously deem as more worthy of our energy. When this happens, it’s usually time to just let it happen. It doesn’t always have to mean you don’t care about the person, and it’s not always a symptom of just needing to try harder. If there’s anything we have to learn, it’s how much we need to allow ourselves the flexibility to grow and change and to learn that letting go doesn’t have to be sad and unfortunate, but an incredible opportunity to embrace what’s coming for us next.