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Friends Worth Holding on to posted Nov 16, 2017

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This is a real question. Are the best friends the old ones? Or are these people still “friends” because we are accustomed to them, meaning we really don’t like them all that much, but they’ve been around so long they’re like family. And not many of us divorce family. Well, because they are family and blood is thicker than mud, right? Hmmm, I hear some of you saying “I don’t care if you are family, there are some things I just will not take from anybody, family or not!!!” Gotcha.

So what about those of us who are “taking crap” from friends (possibly family members) and are still in a relationship with these people? Are we fools? Or are we “crazy in love”? According to our out-spoken reader above, we just might be crazy, period. So, let’s examine our “craziness” with a few questions:

  1. When you were children did your best friend do things to you or behind your back that you thought were wrong?
    1. Did you confront him/her and deal with it?
  2. When you were in your early teens, did your friend do things to you or behind your back that you thought were wrong?       
    1.  Did you talk about those things and work it out?
  3. In high school, college, grad school, at work, in the neighborhood, on joint vacations, at either of your weddings, when you won an award, got a promotion, or any other good thing…Did your “friend” (notice the quotes) do things to you or say things behind your back that you thought were wrong?
    1.  Did you talk or work any of these things out?

Now, based on your responses to actually the same question, I have one more: “How is it that he/she is your friend?” Another question, which of you decided that you were friends? Hmmm. If you decided that you were friends, refer my last questions and tell yourself on what grounds you made this declaration. Now, it would make good sense if your “friend” decided that you were friends because most likely the friendship is working for him/her.

Finally question: At what point do you think the ‘friendship’ will work for you? My assumption and the premise of our discussion is that many of us find ourselves in default relationships with people we call friends merely because we have known them since we were children. We never stop to examine the relationship for the same reason. So, let’s try something different in our relationships because I get the sense that this “crazy in love” behavior is not specific to friendships. But for the sake of this talk, let’s keep it about friends.

Something different to do:

  1. Examine potential friends’ character—does he/she lie, cheat, or steal in ANY way? This could be about their taxes, their inability to take responsibility for their mistakes, or a habit of taking credit for someone else’s idea.
  2. Interview (pay attention) to potential friends’ values on matters that are important to you just to see where they stand and if that stance is one that you can endure. You don’t have to agree on everything, but if their values on an issue such as gay rights, spousal abuse, etc. are polar opposite yours, you’ll be in your rights to not get any closer to this person than is necessary

Both suggestions are great places to begin. And yes, you might have to do a bit of housekeeping to rid yourself of the kind of people who are not your kind of friends. To do this, you don’t have to be mean, just very clear on what you are doing and why you are doing it. For example, you might say to the worst, best friend:

I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’ve concluded that while you are generally a very sweet person, you are not really my friend; at least not the kind that I truly need in my life. I guess I never said anything before now because you have always called me your ‘best friend’ and I’m the kind of person that could not reject that idea, trying to be accepting of everyone. But now I can. Thank you for considering me to be your friend, I don’t take that likely, I’m actually honored. But, I have not been honest with you all of these years, and I finally found the courage to tell you; and for that reason, I really don’t deserve to be your friend. I wish I could have done this back in middle school when you slept with my boyfriend or in high school when you lied about my not having given you your earrings back. Anyway, I’m saying it now. Take care of yourself, good-bye.

Notice that the comment is not blaming the other person but taking responsibility for one’s part in the pseudo-friendship dynamic. Any time you find yourself in any relationship—good or bad—always know that you had a part in it and take responsibility for that part.

Now that you have begun to change how you enter into friendship contracts, you can use this same approach with all other relationships, even within our family. Of course, family may be more difficult to manage, but it’s all about making sure that you are true to yourself and then acting in integrity when others are not being true to you.

28850 PointsGold

Dr. Debra LMFT (MT2416)

/ The Relationship Expert / LMFT