Often, we rethink romantic relationships when they’re just not working. The love is there, but maybe it’s just forced or generally making you less than deliriously happy—that’s normal. But few of us rethink platonic friendships when they don’t make us happy anymore.
Friendships are arguably as important as your romantic partner; they’re the ones who should be always there for you when your boyfriend/girlfriend changes, to be your buddy during the big events, and to offer support and memories throughout your life.
Friends come and go: as kids, they were the ones we ate lunch with and the kids we ran around with on the playground. In high school, your friends shared your interests and made those insecure years a lot more fun. And in college, chances are you lived with your closest friends and had dozens of others down the hall from you.
For most of your life, your friends are just there. It requires almost no effort to see each other and organize times to hang out. You could fall out of your bed and land on three of your best friends, probably. Not so when you become a real adult.
After college, friends are scattered, and that may scare you. It’s not always a bad thing. But there’s also something worse: knowing when someone just shouldn’t be in your life anymore.
They’re consistently flaky
If your friend is constantly bailing on plans or never answers group texts, RSVPs to Facebook events, and/or is known for just not showing up, you have to reevaluate what this friend brings to your life. If the last time you saw them was months ago, why do you continue to reach out if they don’t respond?
Chances are they’re a lot more selfish than you are, and don’t bother to maintain friendships the same way you do. We’re all busy, but it takes work to keep a friend in your life. If you’re working and they’re not, it’s time to rethink this unbalanced relationship.
They judge you
We all make mistakes, and our friends should be the first people to buoy us up and boost our confidence when we fail, or when something goes wrong. But sometimes, a person who ought to be a foul-weather friend can be harsh and judgmental when they should be gentle and understanding.
A real friend will offer to beat people up for you, to go to jail with you (should shenanigans come to that) and to always offer a shoulder when life gets rough. There’s something to be said for tough love, but if your friend offers more tough than love, maybe it’s time to distance yourself from someone who makes you feel worse, rather than making you feel better.
They take more than they give
A wise foursome once sang, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.” Listen to the Beatles. They are the oracle.
A friend is not a friend if they’re always calling you when they need something, usually emotional support. They love you most when you’re helping them through some crisis, but they ghost on you when you need their shoulder to cry on. I have a friend like this, someone who’ve I’ve helped through countless struggles of hers, but who is never there to listen to my problems. Solution? Stop relying on her, and don’t deal with the crap she places on your plate.
The bottom line is that as we get older, we have way more responsibilities and way less time to spend on friendships that aren’t worth the struggle. No longer are our friends down the hall and to the left, and we should only stay friends with people who are as good to you as you should be to them.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to pick people to be in your life carefully, and pick only those who add love, fun, peace, and serenity to your life, not stress and frustration. Because if you’re stressed out around them, they’re not friends. They’re not worth your precious adult time.