1. You’ve become closer to their family than you are to them. Over time, you might find yourself growing apart from them and preferring the company of the people around them. That’s usually a sign that the connection that once brought you two together is no longer there. Go where your energy guides you and nourish the friendships that flow freely, instead of forcing yourself to invest energy into the friendship that is clearly fading. Don’t waste your energy on a friendship that you only keep out of a sense of obligation, when you could be investing that energy into the friendships that you actually want to keep.
2. You make exceptions for them only because the two of you have history. You tolerate their poor treatment of you and the people around them only because of the amount of history between you. You know that if this type of behavior came from anyone else, you would cut them off immediately. You have a higher tolerance for their bullshit because they are familiar and they feel safe. But the false sense of comfort and safety that comes with familiarity isn’t enough. You are settling. Familiarity isn’t a foundation off of which anything worthy is built.
3. They try to buffer their abusive behavior toward you by calling you “family”. Considering each other family is an honorable gesture, but it doesn’t entitle you to a permanent fixture in each other’s lives. Calling each other family does not mean you are obligated to have a higher tolerance for their abusive behaviors. You can still cut each other off when you become toxic to each other. In some cases, family is just another word for bullshit.
3. Everything is one-sided. They don’t hear you. As soon as the conversation stops being about them, they stop responding or listening. Once they are done venting or have gotten what they needed from your hangout/chat session, they stop putting in any effort to be present with you.
5. Your friendship is kept afloat by guilt. You are no longer receiving what you need from the friendship, and you blame yourself. You wonder if their lack of effort is a reflection of you not doing enough. So, you force yourself to overcompensate for their shortcomings. You initiate the conversations and plans. Eventually, hanging out with them feels like a chore or an obligation, rather than a safe place and source of enjoyment. You force yourself to stay for certain calculated amounts of time to be polite. You feel guilty for how everything feels forced on your end, so you keep overcompensating in an attempt to cover it up. You hope the feelings of having to force everything will pass. When you go through phases of not talking to them, you don’t really even miss them. You actually feel lighter during periods of non-communication. You feel guilty for being okay without them, so you keep trying to mend whatever is broken in your friendship.
6. You feel drained after hanging out with or talking to them. If you feel weighed down more often than you feel uplifted after interactions with them, that is typically a sign that your energies are no longer compatible. They aren’t healthy for you anymore. You are no longer benefitting from the friendship. All it is doing is sucking you dry.
7. You no longer feel like you’re growing with them. You have to stifle your own growth just to be able to continue to relate to them. You have to dull down your vocabulary and limit topics of conversation around them so they won’t make fun of you or call you pretentious. You water down who you are so that they won’t feel bad about themselves, or make you feel like you should be ashamed of yourself.
8. You wouldn’t initiate a friendship with them if you met them as they are now. Time changes people, for better or worse. We often watch our friends evolve throughout the years of knowing them, we try to stay committed to keeping up with them and making room for the changes that take place. Even when we don’t agree with the directions or angles in which they grow. Sometimes, we know a person for so long, that we are more hopeful and patient with them than we would be with anyone else. If we just allowed ourselves to step back and really process the human being in front of us through brand new, unbiased eyes, we might see that we don’t actually find them appealing. They aren’t the kind of person who we would invite into our circle at this stage in our life. They aren’t the kind of person who we need by our side on our journey to becoming who we want to be. We wouldn’t open our door and invite them in if they weren’t already living with us, so maybe it’s time to open the door and ask them to leave. It’s time to let them go.