Relationships – Know when it’s time to go – When giving becomes one-sided
Welcome back to The Realms of Relationships. In this edition, I’m going to talk more about friendships. I talked about keeping friendships healthy in my last column. In this post, I’ll share some of the flags that indicate when friends may be taking advantage of us.
Friendships are special to us because they are the people we choose to let into the most personal and intimate part of our lives, the people we trust most. But sometimes in our lifetime of relationships and friendships we may realize that a certain friendship becomes all give and no get back. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the signs that tell us that a friendship we may have with someone is not as fulfilling as it once may have been, how to attempt to repair, and how to decide if it’s time to sever ties.
Friends are those we permit into our personal spaces and hold dear to us. Friends are the ones we share common bonds with, share our world, our homes and often our hearts with. Friends are ones we can rely on for uplifting, favors, companionship, and the ones who have our backs. Do something to betray any of these bonds, it puts a dent into a friendship, and if we let misgivings escalate without confronting our friend about issues bothering us, or better yet, if we have confronted a friend over an issue and they tend to blow it off or ignore our concerns, consider petty, it may be time to re-evaluate that friendship.
As with everything that works smooth in life, there is balance. We take the good with the bad in stride and go about life. Sometimes there are obstacles we learn to work around, sometimes the obstacles must be confronted in order to resolve issues to restore an even balance. If the balance of a friendship begins to teeter, yet one party of the friendship doesn’t see it, someone must alert that person that more effort must be put into that relationship or it’s going to fizzle out. When one party is doing all the giving and supporting and there’s nothing in return – giving back, this is not a friendship. Make sure you’re not doing all the giving and being sucked into an energy vampire sucking relationship.
As a lover and not a fighter, I require peace in all my relationships. I’m a passionate person who cares about all people. I’m also a great communicator, which I learned to become as I’ve spent most of my life observing people and their behavior. If I detect an imbalance or a missing ingredient within a close friendship, I’m going to bring it up for discussion so we can get to the root of a problem to find resolution to continue on with the friendship, hopefully, strengthening the bond once the imbalance is corrected. But what if the other party doesn’t see our side or perhaps thinks we’re making too much out of something insignificant? Or, what if that person is completely blind to a troublesome situation and what if we become tired of rehashing the same issues that never seem to change? Are we just supposed to sit back and live with the lumpy situation, continuing to make excuses to pardon that friend from their faults, or can we keep making excuses to not be available for them? That becomes our decision. But for me, I learned a few relationships ago, when you become a doormat, it may be time to leave.
It wasn’t the first time I had to lay a friendship to rest. It happened maybe 3 times in my life when I decided it was time to part ways with someone who I’d considered a good friend but realized I was doing all the ‘friendy’ work. But leaving became easier to do with each friend because as the years progressed, I’d learned better to stand up for myself and to not be so easily roped in by people’s antics. Being an empath makes the process doubly hard because my whole life I allowed myself to get sucked into people’s drama because I felt sorry for them. Sure, they may not have been adding anything of value to our friendship at the time, but they were lonely, had a lot of bad breaks from life, and sometimes it was just convenient to have someone to hang out with, which some of us think may be better than being alone – but no, it’s not. I finally learned that being alone without a sidekick was better than being used, taken for granted and not appreciated.
One relationship I ended with a friend almost three decades ago was a smart choice. Amy was a friend I’d met within my circle of my closest oldest friends. I kind of inherited her as when we met through mutual friends, we were both single at the time and lived close to one another, which made it too convenient for her to pop over – a lot.
Amy ‘dropped’ by my place lots – especially when she was in between dating her ex- boyfriend and her ex -ex- boyfriend. I got to listen to the whining and complaining and felt compelled to come up with solutions to her problems. I got to cook her dinners, and rarely did I get to share anything about how I felt about things going on in my own life. And never would she ask.
Initially we were good company for one another – someone to have a meal with, go for a drink or watch a movie with. But after 2 years of it, my ear was getting too full of the ‘woe is me’ stories and zero growth in our relationship. Oh sure, after some time had passed, I did broach the subject with Amy, but I also grew to realize that whatever I’d discussed seemed to pass directly through both her ears, and she didn’t understand what being a real friend was. I call them fair-weather friends.
Fair- weather friends are those who come around or call when they have a need to be fulfilled – when it’s convenient for them. They aren’t necessarily bad people, more like self-centered, selfish, and often clueless when it comes to maintaining healthy relationships – romance or otherwise. These types of people will not go out of their way for someone else, usually have trouble in their romantic relationships for same reasons, and deny what they don’t like to hear.
Amy treated me like her personal Shrink or a sounding board for all her dilemmas – and there always seemed to be one with her. Me, always feeling as though it’s my duty to fix people, was kept in the vortex way too long.
Eventually, as that time in my life became a huge growth spurt in growing my self-esteem in both friendships and a crappy relationship I was in at the time, I realized then that it was time to unload the pressure of that relationship too. Without a fight or a phone call, I just slithered away. I first took her calls, but made myself consistently unavailable to her ‘drop over’ requests. Then eventually, I just stopped answering her calls and faded out. A good indicator I was right in doing so was that she made no attempts to further contact me or even questioning why I just cut her out. This was a confirmation it was time. There was no need to second-guess.
Friends who suck the life out of us are what I call energy sucking vampires. They are needy people who will swoop right in on us if we offer them a cushy nest. They are the ones who will ask for favors, visit and forget to leave, borrow things and never return them, and most known for draining our soul. And if you are an empath who constantly finds yourselves attracting these types of people, it’s time to become more aware of these behaviors and how much you will allow. Weigh out the pros and cons of a relationship. If you’re finding the con column getting a little too top heavy, it’s a good idea to consider cutting the ties.
If you find that you’ve discussed your feelings with your friend and they deny any actions you’ve pointed out, become defensive and/or accusatory as a lame defense, deny or blame you without admitting, apologizing, or ultimately, getting angry because you brought up the discussion, it’s pretty clear that your suspicions were right in the first place and it’s time to go. Empaths in particular, tend to let things drag on a little too long because we will do our utmost to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings, often taking the zings ourselves to keep the peace. But if it’s not peaceful, we need to leave.
There are no age limits, time limits, friend limits. You shouldn’t put a timeline on a friendship – meaning: Just because you’ve invested ‘x’ amount of years in a friendship and it doesn’t feel right anymore, doesn’t mean you must remain because you’ve put in the time. No. If you’ve put in the time and the friendship and it’s not growing or feeding you back in any way, it’s time to move on.
Do you have a sticky friendship experience you’d like to share here?
You can find the other posts in the series: D.G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships 2020
I’m a nonfiction memoir writer who writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. My intent is to inspire others by sharing my stories about events I encountered, and the lessons that come along with them.
I love to laugh, and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When I’m not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find me writing with humor in some of my other works and blog posts.
When I was a young child, I was very observant about my surroundings. Growing up in a tumultuous family life; otherwise known as a broken home, kept me on guard about the on-and-off-going status of my parents’ relationship. I often wrote notes, and journaled about the dysfunction I grew up in. By age seven I was certain I was going to grow up to be a reporter.
Well life has a funny way of taking detours. Instead, I moved away from home at eighteen with a few meager belongings and a curiosity for life. I finished university and changed careers a few times always striving to work my way up to managerial positions. My drive to succeed at anything I put my mind to led me to having a very colorful and eventful life.
Ever the optimist, that is me. I’ve conquered quite a few battles in life; health and otherwise, and my refusal to accept the word ‘No’, or to use the words ‘I can’t’, keeps me on a positive path in life.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling. Find out more about D.G. Kaye: D.G. Kaye Writer
Books by D.G. Kaye
One of the recent reviews for Conflicted Hearts
In her book Conflicted Hearts, Kaye recounted her vivid memories of painful experience growing up with a narcissist mother whose interest was partying, smoking, gambling and getting male’s attention to herself. Her mother threw out her father frequently and had male companions in the house with the children’s presence. Kaye’s father returned home long enough to make babies but had no guarantee to stay. She felt sad for her father. She couldn’t concentrate at school. Instead, she expected the disappearance of her father or anger from her mother. She did not receive the nurturing needed for a happy childhood. Instead of being a child, she felt responsible and be the parent to her father. Later, she found out that the paternal grandparents didn’t like her because her mother was pregnant with her and caused her parents’ marriage. She felt it was her fault, and that she was the reason for her father to marry her mother. She considered herself as the black sheep, the accident. If her father married someone else, he would have been happier. Her mother was never home and had babysitter watching the four children until Kaye was twelve and became a babysitter.
Aunty Sherry was the only adult to show her guidance, concern and attention. Sherry got married in her forties and didn’t have children.
Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US
and: Amazon UK
More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads
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My thanks to Debby for taking on the challenge this year of exploring the complexity of relationships, and sharing strategies to improve the way we manage those important to us. As always your feedback is very welcome. Thanks Sally