Q: I’ve had some friends for over 20 years. We used to be so close—I could tell them anything. But now it feels like junior high again! They talk behind my back, tell lies to others, and leave me feeling like crap a lot of the time. I don’t want to drop them as friends because we’ve been through so much, but I don’t know what to do.
A: Friends are wonderful things to have. Essential, I think. Certainly necessary in these intense times.
What role should friends play in your life? They should be your mirrors, reflecting back to you different parts of yourself, parts you may want to work on as well as parts you’re proud of.
Friends serve certain purposes, fill certain niches in our lives, help and support us as we go through different times.
But friends are not necessarily supposed to be with us forever. People change, situations change, times change, and if both people aren’t able or willing to change, they can grow apart, be they friends, lovers, or spouses. Then it’s time to move on.
I can tell that you’re a very loyal person, and probably have even hung onto that dingy blue sweater you used to wear in junior high (so many memories!), because you can’t bear to part with anything.
But if you keep holding on to old things you no longer need, you don’t have any hands to hold on to the new things that are coming into your life. If your house is full of old, unwanted junk you can’t move in that fabulous new couch. So sad!
It seems you have outgrown your friends.
I don’t mean to be disrespectful or look like I don’t care about the length of your friendships, but if they’re acting like that, they’re not your true friends. They’re not the people that you should surround yourself with.
If it’s true that friends reflect parts of ourselves back to us, there could be a part of you that thinks you deserve to be treated unkindly and disrespectfully. If that’s true, you may want to delve a little more deeply into what you’re getting out of these painful relationships, and heal that within yourself.
About ten years ago I looked at my group of friends and noticed that a few of them were pretty unkind and rude and I didn’t like being around them very much. So I stopped calling them, and stopped making plans to do things with them.
Eventually they stopped calling.
That left me open to think about all of those great people out there that I would want to be better friends with, and now I had the time to spend with new friends, as well.
I rearranged my whole inner circle of friends to match how I felt about myself. Now all of my friends are funny, fabulous, smart, creative, supportive and quirky.
Again, not meaning to sound unkind, I won’t spend time with people who are mean and disrespectful - life’s too short. Why would you?
You might also take the time to make a short list of qualities you look for in a friend. This sends a message out to the Universe, and those people who match those qualities will come into your life.
I believe that we always receive what we ask for, so I’m careful about what I’m sending out there, as there are some things I do not want. It’s like that old adage, “be careful what you wish for—you may get it.”
So check your current situation—what’s working, what’s not. Check to see if your friends are giving you what you need (and if you’re giving them what they need), and if it’s not a match, say a gentle good-bye and move on.
It’s not the length of time that’s important, it’s what you do with the time you’re together.
Happy friend hunting!
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