Whether it is a friendship, job, or marriage, sometimes we have to step back and look at the different aspects of our lives that used to bring us joy, but now only cause us stress. For the past few months I have been really struggling with the decision to end a friendship. My friendships with females have always been difficult for me to maintain. As a child I experienced a lot of bullying and heartache caused by my peers. I had a really hard time finding true friends, who genuinely liked me and didn’t have other motives in befriending me. Sadly, this caused me to build walls around myself and be extremely apprehensive and distrustful when it came to making friends or forming romantic relationships. Therefore, when I actually allow someone into my life, to truly know me on a deep level, I place a lot of value on that relationship. So as life changes and friends grow apart, I find it immensely difficult and painful to actually take the steps in saying goodbye.
Many times if I feel that a friendship is nearing the end I will just back off and let it die, without actually confronting the person, because I hate confrontation and hurting people. This is why it took me so long to file for my second divorce, even though I knew almost immediately after saying, “I Do” that I should have said, “I Don’t”.
Recently, I have been struggling with a friend whom I have been feeling extremely unhappy with. I have known for months that this friendship was bringing far more stress to my life, than joy, but I couldn’t bring myself to “break up” with her and instead just stopped inviting her to the things that I invited my closest friends to. She got the hint and formally “unfriended” me on Facebook. As ridiculous as it is, we all know that “unfriending” a real-life friend on Facebook means that we no longer care to be friends in real life either. Even though that relationship is done I still feel a sickness in my stomach and an ache in my heart as I mourn someone who had once been one of my closest friends for 8 years and had given me a shoulder to cry on and a place to stay as I had navigated my second divorce. Although life has changed and we no longer fit as well into each others lives, it is still sad to see it end.
So, how do you know when it is time to end a relationship, whether it is a friendship, romantic, or marriage?
The Relationship is More Stressful, than Joyful
Relationships take a lot of work no matter what type of relationship it is, but when it starts to feel like it has just been an uphill battle and no longer brings joy to your life, you should start to reevaluate that relationship. If you feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells and don’t know how to act in order to keep the peace or prevent a fight, that is no way to live. The whole point of having relationships is to have people in your life that you can experience the good and bad with. If your friend, spouse, etc. are the cause of your stress and no longer feel like a haven from the craziness it may be time to part ways.
You Don’t Look Forward to Time Together
You’ve just set a date night or made plans to hang out, but when you think about it you aren’t even excited. This is one of those things I have to remind myself of, if I don’t enjoy spending my time with a certain person, then why the hell am I doing it?! Life is so short and goes by way to fast to spend it with people I am not excited to be around.
When you spend time with a friend or spouse, it should add value to your life. If you feel stressed, annoyed, anxious, sad, or unhappy with that interaction then you are better off without it. As much as it may hurt to let go of someone who once played a crucial role in your life, it is always better to do so, rather than forcing yourself to stay in an unfulfilling relationship.
Your Intuition and Body are Rejecting This Person
Does something always feel off when you spend time together or think of the person? During my second marriage, even before we married I had always felt an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me want to get away from him. Although that uneasy feeling caused me to breakup with him a couple of times, I spent a lot of time suppressing my intuition as it tried to tell me that man was not right for me.
Listen to your intuition and pay attention to how your body feels when you are with your friends, partners, and the other people around you. If you feel tense, sick to your stomach, stressed, fidgety, or otherwise uncomfortable every time you are with someone, it may be your intuition or body’s way of showing you that this relationship is not serving you well.
You Have More Complaints, Than Compliments
Do you find yourself constantly complaining about a certain person when they aren’t around? My fiancé and I have been together for almost three years. In that time he has heard a lot about the people I associate with. As I have been contemplating the demise of the above-mentioned friendship my fiancé said, “In all of the time I have known you, she is the only one of your friends who you complain about and whom causes you stress”. It took someone observing the relationship from the outside for me to realize that I was seeing more bad than good. If you no longer have something nice to say about your relationship it may be a good sign that it is time to leave it.
You Have Grown Apart
It is inevitable that as you grow and change that not all of your friends will grow and change in the same way. Some friends and relationships are brought into our lives for a short time and others may last a lifetime. You and your spouse may have gotten married at a young age and are no longer the same people you once were and now are incompatible as adults. You and a friend may have met during a party-stage of life and now no longer mesh in the same way now that you have a family. Whatever has changed, it is not uncommon to find that certain relationships are not meant to stand the test of time. It is alright to say goodbye when you no longer have anything in common and have grown apart. Whether you have known the person for a month or 20 years, if you don’t feel connected anymore then it may be time to walk away.
If You Are the Only One Making an Effort
Does it feel like you are constantly reaching out, trying to make plans, or connect in a particular relationship, while they take the backseat and don’t reciprocate? Relationships take effort on both sides, otherwise they aren’t able to properly flourish. If you feel like your relationship has become one-sided then it may be a good sign that it is over.
It can be an emotional decision to let go of relationships that no longer bring us joy, but sometimes it is exactly what we need in order to free our lives from unnecessary stress and achieve happiness. If you are trying to decide whether a divorce is in your future or another relationship may be nearing the end, take the time to think on these points. Sometimes we just need to face reality and see that we aren’t getting what we truly need from a particular person in our life. Stay strong, follow your intuition, and keep true to yourself.