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Finding Friendship in Adulthood Part 3 of 3: Walking Away

June 17, 2016

We all have at least 3-5 relationships we should stop investing in. Many of which are not even on our emotional radar as being problematic. And this is mostly in part to us not understanding what a healthy relationship looks like. If you’ve been reading with us throughout this three part series then you’ll know what some of those key elements are—sharing our burdens, listening to theirs, loving with action, and forgiveness just to name a few. So if we know what to do to create a healthy relationship how do we know when to end an unhealthy one? Does a relationship even have to be unhealthy to end it? And how can we accept it when someone ends a relationship with us? These questions can become very overwhelming as our lives are always in a constant state of change.

Sometimes relationships fizzle quietly and we are left wondering about them in hindsight and others explode in a moment and we are left shattered figuring out the days to come. Either way it’s good to start analyzing your current core friendships and whether or not they make sense. If you look back at parts 1 and 2 then you’ll see that when we talk about friendships in this context we aren’t talking about someone you know on Facebook or an old high school friend you jokingly text during football season. These people are your tribe. Your inner circle. Your home team. The ones you show your mess to. Not the ones who only come over when the house is clean and you have a fridge full of food. I want you to think about these people. Write down their names. Maybe it’s an obvious list or maybe it isn’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not you want them to be on your team. And then simply ask yourself, “Do I want to become like them?” Yes. Yes. It’s that easy.

Donald Miller posed this question on a post he wrote about letting relationships go. Sometimes we have people on our team because of convenience. Sometimes it’s need. And sometimes it’s a random conglomeration of reasons. Either way marriages don’t work out too well when based on similar circumstances and these people, these friends, can be as important as a husband or wife. When you ask this question, “Do I want to become like them?” It’s not the simple details that you’re considering like whether or not they run, or bake, or enjoy sushi. You’re looking at the whole picture—the depth of their lives, not just the surface. Even though you can be two very distinct and very different people in any given friendship you will eventually grow and morph together. That’s what happens when you share yourself deeply with another person. And it’s imperative that you understand now what you will grow and morph into as to whether or not the friendship has any chance.

One of my core friendships, someone who has been in my inner circle for fourteen years is a single woman, who works full time as a teacher, and lives by the beach. I am a stay at home mother, raising three children five and under, and have been married for the last decade. Nothing in our current lives match up. Everything societal says that we shouldn’t have a successful friendship and yet we do.

We both want to become like each other.

Let’s break this idea down into several more categories:

1. Direction – Does the person exhibit direction or purpose in their life?

2. Improvement – Does the person want to continually improve themselves or better themselves?

3. Support – Does the person support your own goals and purpose in life?

4. Value – Does this person have shared values or similar values? i.e. religious

These questions will help you assess and analyze your current relationships. When you can look at an individual person and answer whether or not they are someone you’d want to become like the friendship choice becomes easy. It also clarifies the unknown boundary as to whether or not the relationship is unhealthy. Just because it’s not tangibly unhealthy doesn’t mean they are someone you should be investing in.

Our core relationships become the rudders of our life. They steer us, guide us, and place us on certain paths. You cannot place that sort of power into the hands of someone you don’t wholly like, admire, or want to emulate. And if you’re still fretting over how to accept when someone has walked away from you place the question upon him or her. Maybe they didn’t like who you were becoming or where you were going. At first that may sound hurtful, but stop and think. Do you like who you are becoming and where you are going? If the answer is yes, then carry on. We cannot force people to join us in our journey if they do not like the direction. If the answer is no, then you have more weight on your shoulders than figuring out friendship. No one can be the you, you want to be except yourself.

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