There has come a time in every relationship that I’ve had with most of the people I know… where I have had to walk away from them for a while. Either they create too much stress for me or they say things about me to my friends and family that are simply not true. Perhaps they are well-meaning and try to help when I complain about my problems, but instead they say things that go completely against my grain and I just smile and nod and then don’t bother to return their phone calls.
I know this sounds petty and childish, but it’s really not. The truth is, sometimes friends grow apart. Sometimes things change and the really great friend that you once had isn’t such a great person for you to be around anymore. I have a friend who refers to these people as “toxic individuals” and it’s a really good phrase for them, especially because I think that the moment a relationship with another person becomes toxic, that’s it. It’s over.
There are the sorts of friends who claim to be friends with both you and your spouse, but who ultimately end up telling your spouse “Why don’t you just leave her?” These are the people that convince you and your spouse that you are unhappy in your relationship, even when you aren’t actually unhappy in your relationship, that can cause your marriage to fall apart. In these circumstances I defer to the wise words of Dr. Laura. “It’s your marriage. Why is anything that happens behind closed doors any of anyone else’s business.”
It’s not. I stopped airing our laundry a long time ago because I read those words in one of her books. Now, when I hear the gals start husband bashing… it makes me uncomfortable because I know what it’s doing to them while they’re not even thinking about it. It’s making them feel bad, when there’s nothing to feel bad about. It’s not right.
The hard one for me though, has been walking away from friendships when they stop being healthy. When you start arguing with someone (with whom you have no emotional attachment other than friendship) every single time you talk to them, it’s really time to walk away. The problem I run into is that I’m not good at giving up on people. I will keep trying and keep trying and keep trying until eventually I find a way that works. I tend to hang onto relationships with people long past the point of their being constructive or healthy for either party because I am such a positive thinker. I always tell myself, “Things will get better. We’re just going through a bad patch. This will pass.”
But sometimes, it doesn’t.
I have a friend whom I love dearly and admire for lots of things, with whom I no longer have anything in common. We really haven’t had anything in common for about two years now. His life has finally settled into its groove and so has mine and our friendship really allowed us both to look at our lives differently at a time when we both desperately needed to re-evaluate the way we thought about life. Now, that process is over. I’m happy, he’s happy and we have nothing left to talk about. This is so true that every time we do talk anymore, we argue. Mac vs. PC. Cats vs. Dogs. Apples vs. Oranges… and when he says, “Let’s change the subject”, well… he doesn’t.
I love him and he is my friend but this isn’t working. All it does is make both of us feel bad and when I try to explain this he just throws his hands up in the air and walks away.
So here I am. Me, not giving up, but walking away because there isn’t a choice.
Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t like I guess. I know, that in the long run, this is better for both of us, but it feels like such a cop out. I hear Dr. Laura though, in the back of my mind saying, “Go do the right thing.” and I know this is it.
You can’t have a friendship with someone you can’t even engage in amicable conversation.
You just can’t.