When you Need to Close Shop on a Friendship.
Throughout my life I have had many friendships.
Some have been through the children, some because we lived in the same suburb or village and a lot have been through church connections.
On more than one occasion, I have asked myself what the heck am I doing with the people I give my time to?
It sounds selfish doesn’t it?
But for me, my pattern has been that I kind of fall into these friendships.
Before I know it, I am helping look after their children, having them over for dinner and spending way too much time with someone I am not sure I would have ever chosen as a friend, had I stopped and given it some thought.
The theory of stopping and actually evaluating whether you want to enter into a friendship, sounds simple enough.
But as adults, how many of us actually practice this?
Before we realise what is happening, these relationships have snuck into our lives without us realising how much time we are devoting to them.
When we first moved to the UK, I was pretty desperate to make friends!
And I will be honest.
I wasn’t particularly wise with the relationships I made.
Eighteen months down the track, I found myself in the extremely unfortunate and uncomfortable position of having to close shop, on not one, but three female friendships, that were sapping my energy and becoming a drain on my life.
It was awful.
I thought it best to be honest and tell them that I wasn’t able to give them what I believed they wanted from the friendship.
I thought if I let them go to make other connections, we would all be happier in the long-run.
What I didn’t consider was the enormous impact of the fall-out that followed.
Namely, I had to see these women every single day at the school gate for the remaining 18 months that my children attended public school.
And of course, women like to move in groups.
With other women. And these groups build alliances.
They gossip and will form opinions of you, sometimes without never even speaking to you.
This all happened to me.
The still-newish-girl-on-the-block, who had performed friendship-suicide.
If I had my time all over again, these would be the three things I would do so very differently:
1. Faze out the friendship, not just shut down shop instantly.
This gives both parties the time to emotionally accept the growing distance and slowly come around to the fact that the two of you are simply drifting apart.
And if you have to see them most days, at least you can say hi and smile without them giving you the death stare.
The amount of death stares I received during the 18 months I shut shop, well, let’s just say, I should be in a critical condition by now.
2. Consider the impact on your children.
Again, not something I gave a lot of thought to.
I underestimated how much the fracturing of my adult friendships could affect my children’s school friendships, with my new ex-friend’s offspring.
There was a lot of confusion and questions like ‘why does your mummy not like my mummy anymore?’.
The breakdown of my mummy friendships affected the children in a big way.
3. Honesty is not always the wisest solution.
I thought if I pointed out all the reasons why our friendship wasn’t working, that both parties would affectively say ‘great plan, good points, let’s hug and part ways’.
It so wasn’t like that!
I was naive in thinking the upfront approach would work, and actually one of my friends point-blankly refused to accept all the reasons why I wanted to shut shop and didn’t leave me alone.
In fact, she didn’t leave me alone for well over 18 months.
This tactic definitely back-fired on me.
We all have friends whom we are close to for a season and a small few, who are our friends for life.
These are the rare people who show up at the right time, help you through the hard times and stay into your best times.
These are the keepers.
You might have to hug and spend time with a lot of mis-matches in your lifetime, but when you finally meet those heart friends, I guarantee all of your failed relationships will be worth it.
Because you will know a true friend when you meet her. She will be your keeper and you will be hers.
Hold onto it.
It is a gift.
A rare gift that will last through all the seasons of your life and bring such dazzling colour and deep riches, you will wonder why you put up with so many wrong friendships for so long.