So, you’ve been close friends for years and the memories you share could fill a stadium, but is the friendship for a reason, season, or a lifetime? And, how do you gauge when it is time to evaluate the viability of the friendship? The simple answer is when your gut instinct or intuition nudges you to do so. For most of us, three things help individuals make it on and off the close friend list — your presence or lack thereof in times of crisis, celebration, and loss. However, once you’ve put someone on the list, it’s often difficult to appropriately evaluate when a different option should be chosen.
With added perks and access to your dreams, joys, pains, triumphs, and aspirations, close friends are charged with seeing your vulnerabilities and parading the banner of mutual loyalty, trust, and respect. So, when you look around, how many close friends can you identify? What about you? Are you measuring up to the title’s requirements? Well, not only do you get to choose what kind of friend you are but you also get to decide who receives, maintains, and gets ousted from the close friend title in your life. Below are seven points of evaluation that speak to whether there may be just cause for a person to receive a title demotion (e.g., friend and/or acquaintance) or worst yet a potential dismissal.
1. Wrongly Qualified… Did you render the close friend title solely on time spent in the relationship? Were they ever qualified based on their capacity to carry out the duties or contribute to your personal growth? If you never truly assessed if being a close friend was something they could or should be, you can’t blame them for failing at the job. And, a close friend should never become a fix-it project. It’s not your job to make them a great friend. But, it is up to you to reposition them so they can be most successful in your life.
2. Acts of Betrayal… If the person committed an act of betrayal, has little remorse, no ownership, and no commitment to turning away from their offensive behavior toward you, it’s time to make a change. If they can’t take responsibility for their breach to your negotiated agreement as friends, you are officially at risk of further offense. Forgive them and be willing to accept they may no longer be capable of caring for your trust and well-being.
3. Why Not Me… If your success appears to be their mental burden, it may be time to make a change. A close friend is a silent and sometimes vocal champion for your greatest good. If you get a sense that your success is prompting a sense of jealousy, don’t ignore it. With close friends having heightened access to intimate aspects of your life, their measure of success should never be negatively connected to how well you’re doing. If so, their access may come at a price that outweighs the benefit.
4. Negative Impact… Close friends are good to you and good for you. A red flag should appear if both are not present in your friendship. If they put you down, amplify your worst attributes, spew negativity, reside in bitterness, and lead from an attitude of “it’s never possible,” their toxicity can only become an increasing liability. The reality is, close friends can champion you when positive, but they also have the power to weigh you down and limit your success if their negativity rubs off on you.
5. No Longer Vested… With busy lives, it’s not hard to grow apart or lose consistent communication. However, it’s not the distance that should cause the greatest pause. Instead, if you’re no longer vested in being part of their support system, cheering section, or have an unwillingness to do what’s necessary to minimize the gap, you’ve definitely come to a crossroad that deserves your attention.
6. Co-dependence… A close friend is a true blessing, however, it should never require not knowing where you begin and the other person ends. If the person demands you have unhealthy boundaries, you be their everything, or you experience little apart from them, it’s time to accept that you’re in a dysfunctional relationship and traveling on an unhealthy path.
7. Bird of Another Feather… As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. When you no longer respect the person’s decision making ability, you question their character, and/or have evidence that they’re on a path of sabotage and destruction, you should question whether or not you’re still birds of the same feather. Remember, chickens will never do well in an eagles’ flight pattern. If your feathers are too different from theirs, you may have no choice but to make a change.
Dr. Nicole LaBeach is a success strategist who has changed the lives of all who dared to strive for their personal best. She represents a new generation of life, relationship, and executive coaches. Dr. Nicole is the CEO of Volition Enterprises, Inc., a premiere personal and professional development firm. Please visit her website: www.askdrnicole.com.