Hello everybody, welcome to episode 51 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we do QnA's on life's struggles. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
We’re gonna be chatting about friendships today. We’ve got a question sent in that concerns treatment of one another in friendships, what’s acceptable, and when to end them. Sounds to me like a situation where the feeling brain might overthrow the thinking brain…just like most other situations, really. Let’s see what question we’ve got for today’s episode…
QUESTION: “There is a friend of mine who always tries to put me in my place for no reason. She’s always correcting me over insignificant things, she’ll get upset with me for not being PC enough for her, and if I ever make a small mistake in planning, she’ll get on my case. What bothers me is we’ve been friends our whole lives and she knows that I mean no harm. I also never get upset with HER, because I know SHE’S a good person, too. But I’m starting to think enough is enough. Is it time to end this friendship?”
Your Well-Being vs. A Lifelong Friendship
Oh boy. I have a feeling there are more and more rifts like these among friends lately as the political world continues to turn and turn. Yup.
Wonderful question, thank you for sending it in and trusting us with it. I understand the frustration.
This is a hard place for you to be in, especially considering there’s a lifelong friendship to consider.
But more and more these days, we’re each putting up with less. We’re quicker to keep tabs on our own freedom, and quicker to remove all forms of disrespect towards us. This is not a bad thing. I’m proud of you for looking after your own well-being and being willing to put that before a lifelong friendship. That’s very big of you.
Improve Communication in Your Friendship
I caution you, and any person in a similar situation, however, to not get carried away into thinking that this is necessarily an attack and warrants an entire upheaval of your life. Yes, you’ve considered the friendship, but have you acted fairly towards it?
You mentioned your friend puts you down for no reason. That’s silly. Of course she has a reason, you just don’t see it yet. And she’s probably thinking that you react badly to her behavior for no reason. But you have a reason, too. And like you, she doesn’t know what it is yet.
So, no, it is not time to end this friendship. It is time to communicate. Any time we feel under attack, like we’re being bullied or disrespected, it is all too easy to see the exchange from our perspective alone and be blind to the fact that most of the time, it’s not about an attack at all. It’s about two people expressing themselves differently. It’s this short sightedness that ends far too many relationships that either end too soon or should not end at all.
The self-defense we’re collectively becoming aware of, again, is a good thing. But this is how and when it gets taken too far. You have to talk to your friend before anything.
Perspectives on Friendships
If you both talk openly, you both stand to discover a lot about one another.
Maybe she realizes she’s being overly sensitive. Maybe you realize you’re being more insensitive than you thought. Maybe you discover something about her that subconsciously fuels an ongoing need for control. Maybe you discover something about you that is giving you a reason for wanting to end the relationship which has nothing to do with this particular situation.
Neither of you would identify yourselves as bullies, yet here you are, thinking the other one is a bully for different reasons. Even friendly rivalry can be toxic. Figure out that middle ground, figure out where it’s going wrong.
Different Expressions of Love
In the case of lifelong friends, differences like these usually just mean people showing love in different ways. You clearly have different standpoints, and this means different means of expression. Even lifelong friendships still have to change over time, so this is really par for the course. You’ve already made it through trying changes, whether you didn’t realize it, or maybe just forgot about it.
What about that whole puberty thing? Pretty sure a lot of changes happen around then that you had to get through together, and here you are. Your friendship is simply going through another revolution, as your tolerance changes and as your friend’s need to be firm changes. If you have a dialogue about this, you’ll likely come to the conclusion together that neither of you mean any harm.
OR, of course, maybe you won’t. Maybe everything I’ve said up until this point will prove to be sheer nonsense, and the friendship absolutely has to end. But here’s the thing: neither of you owe the other one a friendship, no matter how long it’s been. What you do both owe yourselves is peace of mind, though. And that will only come from doing the best you can to try to keep the relationship afloat. That means putting your egos aside, talking like adults, and not being on the defensive all the time.
Reasons to End a Friendship
Now if you entertain this idea, you’ll find two realistic scenarios in which the friendship could and should actually end, as you’ve suspected.
1. No Progress Made
The first scenario in which the friendship should end is if you do have the conversation and there is still no progress made. Even with a good effort, it could be that neither of you respects the opinion of the other, or the expression of that opinion.
Sometimes, people just drift apart, and relationships that end with a mutual understanding of that are often much less painful and much less likely to have regret come back and bite later.
2. Unwillingness to Communicate
The second scenario in which the relationship could and should end is if one or both of you is not even willing to have this conversation. If, after this whole episode, you’re thinking to yourself that this communication would be worthless, she wouldn’t listen or she should be the one that comes to you, then your mind is already made up, isn’t it? It’s clear there’s a difference between you now, and if you close the door on that difference, unwilling to discuss it, you’ll only be less prepared the next time the cycle of your friendship changes again and a new difference is established.
Same goes for her. You don’t want a friend who is unwilling to hear your side of this and have a discussion. A relationship absolutely will not be healthy under those circumstances, period.
Communication and growth go hand in hand. If there is no willingness for communication, it was over before you even sent the question in, and it’s best for both of you.
Thank you thank for sending this question in. Thank you for listening. PLEASE, people, do not get too riled up before making big decisions like ending a friendship. There are likely plenty of thoughts you’d see from an outside perspective, but can’t see from an inside perspective.
Reach out. Try to see it from the standpoints of others if you’re feeling particularly offended; I’m going to make that the golden rule from now on.
Feeling targeted? You’re only allowed to take remove yourself if you’ve first made a valiant effort to see where others are coming from. That’s the rule. No victimhood here on OLA. We’re above that.
Questions of your own can be emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, send us any questions you have that you’re struggling with. We’ll see you next time everyone. Thanks for coming today, and have a good one.