No one wants a friendship to end, but, as cliche as it sounds, sometimes it really is for the best. Ending things is the worst, and a lot of times, we don’t want to admit to ourselves that a relationship has run its course. Let me make it easier for you.
First, listen to this song, and let the all the feels wash over you:
Now you’re ready. Read through these red flags, and see if it might be time for you to say goodbye.
1. No one’s asking questions
Your friends should be interested in your life, your thoughts, and your opinions. I recently caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in months, and she spent the entire lunch talking about herself. I was interested in what was going on with her, but not one question about me or my life came up, and it was more than a little off-putting. Questions are important. They show that you care, that you’re actively interested in your friend’s world. I’m not saying every conversation has to be an interview — on the contrary, sometimes a comfortable silence is all you need with a close friend. But there’s a distinct difference between comfortable silence and awkward silence. Comfortable silence is awesome and a great point to be at in a relationship; awkward silence is awkward and a sign that something isn’t right. If you find that you and your friend are continually running into conversational dead ends (or one-sided monologues), it might be time to make a change.
2. Judgment or condescension gets involved
Do you constantly feel like you have to explain yourself and your life decisions to a friend? This is a huge red flag. Unless you are making insane, dangerous life choices all the time, your friends shouldn’t be judging you. Condescension is a huge pet peeve of mine, and I’ve often found that when it comes to personality traits, the two characteristics are linked. I avoid condescending people like the plague, because, honestly, they’re obnoxious and life is too short. If you find that a friend is more judgmental than caring, it might be time to peace out. And remember that judgment and condescension come from a place of insecurity; often, people who patronize do so because they’re desperate to have the upper hand in some area of their life, even if it’s just for a brief conversation.
3. No one’s laughing
If you can’t laugh with your friends, something is off. Very simple, but so important.
4. Excuses get in the way
I used to be someone who made a lot of excuses. I used school, work, traffic, and money-related issues to get out of commitments that were inconvenient for me. Then I looked around and realized that I was being incredibly lazy. The people I admire most don’t make excuses, period. They make time for the things they want to do. The bottom line is that people who want to do something will do it. It doesn’t matter how busy they are, they find a way. That’s how life works. If you want to see a friend, you will find a way to see that friend, and vice versa. I live in L.A., where traffic gets in the way of everything. I also moved across town recently, and now live pretty far away from most of my friends. Yet the friends who want to see me make the trafficky trek across town as often as they can, and I do the same for them. If you want to make a friendship work badly enough, excuses aren’t part of the picture.
5. You’re playing a role
Does your friend group have an unchanging, set cast of characters? If you’ve found that you’ve been pigeonholed as the “dumb one” or “the flirt” or the “clown” of your group, it might be time to reevaluate. I used to have a circle of pals who considered me their “entertainer” friend. Because I’m often a very goofy person, they assumed that that was my entire personality and only wanted me around when they needed someone to liven things up for them. For the longest time, I went along with it and played the part, and that was my mistake. People aren’t caricatures, they’re people. You aren’t a “type” — you’re a multi-faceted person. As human beings, we are constantly changing, and our friendships should give us room to do so.
Some people enjoy having their specific role in a group, and that’s totally fine. If it works for you, then it works for you. But if you’re unhappy and feeling stifled, it might be time for a change.
6. You’re the constant “giver” in the relationship
Is a friend only showing up when they need something? Do you find yourself drained after hanging out with them? That’s probably because they’re taking something from you and not giving anything back in return. This is no bueno, and will ultimately exhaust you. Giving is a good thing — whether it be advice, affection, or just a listening ear. But relationships that aren’t balanced in this area are ultimately going to fall apart.
7. Jealousy’s getting weird
Jealousy is a part of life — if you’re a human being, you’ve experienced it. It’s normal to get a little jealous of your best friend’s amazing relationship or your sister’s awesome new job. Being a little jealous of something or someone can actually be motivating. But when something great happens in your life and your closest friends aren’t happy for your success, something is wrong (and vice versa). You should never, ever feel guilty or embarrassed when telling your friends about your achievements; real friends will be proud of you, expect nothing less from you, and encourage you to keep pushing yourself.
And if there’s constant competition in the romance department, forget about it. You don’t need that noise. Friends are there to help you through relationships, not make them more stressful.
8. The past keeps resurfacing
Life is constant change. If you and a friend are doing the same thing over and over again, having the same conversation, and reliving the same stories, then things are getting stagnant. Old friends are wonderful, especially if you’ve shared a hometown, childhood, or those unforgettable (and terrifying) teenage years together. But if the past is the only thing you have in common, it might be time to either actively spice up your friendship with new activities, or consider letting go and moving on.