How To Identify An Unfulfilling Friendship In Your Life

Friendships are sometimes more intimate relationships than romantic ones. We share so much with our close friends; its easy, effortless and you become part of one another. And most friendships have a natural life cycle. Often people are drawn together by circumstance – education, the single life, work – and as our situations change, our paths go in different directions. And sometimes friendships can gradually drift apart.

On a deeper level, our friendships mirror our internal life. Florence Falk, PhD, a New York City psychotherapist said: “As we gain a strong sense of self, what used to matter no longer does, and we’re bound to outgrow certain friendships. Once you’re aware of that without being cruel or feeling guilt-ridden, you can begin to let go of relationships that no longer nourish your most authentic self.”

Whey they criticise everything you do and are constantly negative
Criticism can start with the little things, but soon the focus will shift onto the things you’re most passionate about and they will make you feel terrible about it. Although we need people who are honest and warn you if you’re doing something wrong, you don’t need judgmental people who always look down on you and the decisions you make. The majority of the time their criticism will come from jealousy. And whilst a little jealousy is healthy, unjustified criticism isn’t constructive or even necessary.

There are so many sources of negativity in our lives and it doesn’t help if you are surrounded by people who are always ‘glass half empty’. If you hang out with pessimists, you are more likely to develop a negative mindset yourself. And those that are constantly resentful, moaning or unhappy are usually selfish and less likely to engage with you. You just don’t need that kind of vibe in your life.

When they are jealous of your life and opportunities
Sure, it’s sometimes nice to know that someone is a little jealous, because it makes you feel even better about your success. But envy and jealousy are the root cause of many relationship and friendship breakups, as they are emotions that are more difficult to address gracefully. People who are constantly jealous, will never be happy for you when good things happen. They will in turn, criticise and bring you down with negativity. You want to surround yourself with people who support you, fight your corner and who are genuinely happy to help you move forward.

When they make no effort and you’re the only one fighting
Adults don’t need to talk daily in order to validate a friendship – but what we do need is to know that the other party is just as interested in our company, as we are in theirs. It’s human nature; we like confirmation that we are desired and wanted (in a non-sexual way). After all, friendships are a 50/50 split.

There are instances when people truly are busy, whether it be work commitments, family etc and it can be completely out of their control. But it is in their control to also ask how you’re doing and to keep you around. You have to ask yourself, if those people who constantly drop plans, always rearrange and never answer your messages (within a sensible time frame of course) are they worth the disappointing pain you always feel? You are worth so much more than to be in a disappointing friendship.

You cannot force someone to be interested in your life especially when you’re the one making all the effort. Consider this: if you accidentally got your finger caught in an open flame, would you continue putting your finger in the flame on purpose? Knowing you would cause yourself pain again and again? This can be said for friendships, why continually make effort with someone and get nothing back, just to cause yourself emotional pain and upset? 

It will become obvious when someone isn’t there for you and they are there for themselves. If your friend simply needs you to be their audience and has no interest in your life, take a step back. You must explicitly call it quits if you have an ‘enabling [or] disappointing friendship’.

When you’re lying to each other and not being honest
Sadly, many friendships end needlessly because people are too afraid to acknowledge conflict. If you notice yourself withdrawing from someone who really matters to you, you have to ask yourself why. Any meaningful friendship is bound to provoke difficult feelings, once you accept that, you can talk about things as they come up and there’s a good chance you’ll become closer.

But despite best intentions, talking doesn’t always repair the rift. Not everyone is able to listen without becoming defensive or blaming the other person. Feelings stirred up by a close friend often echo unresolved issues in their own life. Unless those feelings have already been acknowledged, no amounts of discussion can save the relationship.

Bottom line: there’s no single template for friendship. Some people are in our lives because they carry a precious shard of our history, while others reflect our current passions and priorities. Nevertheless, some are in danger of becoming ex-friends because we’re too preoccupied to pick up the phone, too scared to speak our minds, or the other isn’t willing to fight to save the relationship as much as you are.

As Virginia Woolf once said: “I have lost friends, some by death – others through sheer inability to cross the street.”

I recently lost my best friend, she decided enough was enough and gave up. After a year long battle of me trying to cling on and salvage our friendship, she walked away. And I let her. But it was not a decision I made lightly. There comes a time when you’ve done everything you can. When you risked losing your identity and self worth for someone who didn’t want you. You have to realise that you deserve someone to fight for you, you deserve someone to love you and want your friendship. You just deserve better.

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