When we reflect on the good times in life, it’s likely many of these moments involve our closest friends. But is it worth hanging in there when a friendship goes wrong?
These relationships are an important foundation in our lives— people we depend on for fun, companionship and wisdom. But, the reality is, friendships are not all weekend road trips, or in- jokes about the time you made a fool of yourself in front of a crush. Like romantic relationships, friendships have more than their fair share of challenges.
A few years ago, one of my closest friends got into a serious relationship (yes you can see where this is going) and started to become quite distant. Yet upon reflection, I asked myself, what was his perspective in this situation? Did I need to give him some space for a season? By communicating with him clearly, and showing each other some grace, we were able to work through our differences. Subsequently, I still call him one of my best friends today.
Here’s some things to consider when working through the testing times of a friendship.
1. Alter your expectations
Before you lose a friend because of some perceived hurt, make sure that it’s not you who is placing harmful expectations on the friendship. When our
expectations of friendships are not met, we can easily become upset or disillusioned. The truth is, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses—so a single person is never going to meet all our needs. For example, I have one friend who’s not particularly empathetic. However, while he’s not going to use words to encourage me when I’m down, he builds me up in
other ways—such as through his humour.
2. Choose grace over cynicism
When someone has upset us it’s easy to see the worst in them. But what about the things this person does well? What about those positive traits that
drew you to them in the first place? This isn’t to say there’s never a time to move on from a friendship, but we need to remember our friends are human, just like us. Initially,
choosing to forgive is never easy, but in my experience you’re always glad you did.
3. Keep communicating
When I finally felt I had to be honest with the friend mentioned above, I found it helpful to write him an email. This isn’t an excuse to allocate blame. But for many of us, addressing someone in person can be intimidating—even if you’ve known them half your life. But the main thing is to keep communicating in a way that works for you both.
4. Know your boundaries
Friendships often fall apart because it feels ‘one-sided’. How are you letting your friend violate your boundaries? For example, do you feel it’s always ‘on their terms’, or like you are always there for them, but not vice versa? If this is happening, rather than blaming them, you need to re-negotiate the friendship so it works for both of you. A good friendship is life-giving to you both.