3 ‘Friends’ You Need To Lose Right Now
Life is just too short, are we right??
“Hell is other people,” philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote. My take on that is, “Hell is the wrong people.”
Like many women, COVID-19 has been a time of reckoning for me — a time to take stock and scrutinize my relationships. The pandemic has reminded me that life is way too short and precious to surround myself with the wrong people. The hard part is knowing which ones are wrong. Even though it sometimes felt cruel, I finally managed to cut three kinds of “friends” from my life.
Whenever we got together, it was wonderful. She made me feel cherished, and afterward I would think how lucky I was to call her a friend. Then time passed. Weeks. Months. And I tried to push a niggling thought to the back of my mind: If I don’t make the first move and text/call/IM, will she ever reach out to me? Look, we’re all busy. We all get caught up with kids and work and spouses, and sometimes friendships get put on the back burner. But friendship is a two-way street. If you’re always the one holding out the olive branch, there’s a problem. True friends make an effort to stay connected; that’s how they let you know they give a s**t. This has happened more times than I care to admit. I give too much, then I resent the lack of reciprocity. Since I was always the one checking in or suggesting a get-together, I set myself a little test. I went dark for a while. Though it was tempting to reach out, I didn’t. I wanted to see how long it took her to contact me ... if she contacted me at all. The results broke my heart, but they told me all I need to know about the friendship.
We had so much in common, yet every time I mentioned something good in my life, I started to notice a trend: She and hers did one better. At the time, she was gracious and complimentary about my achievements. All the while there was an undercurrent of competition running through our friendship — a one-upmanship that I never signed up for. A high school friend was so smart and ambitious (or plain insecure) that she felt the need to quietly sabotage or “top” everything I did. It wasn’t until others pointed out the pattern that I got out of Dodge. This recently happened with another friend, who later admitted she was jealous. While it’s great to share interests and passions, life isn’t reality TV. My friends and I aren’t contestants on Survivor or The Bachelor. There’s a reason envy is considered a deadly sin. Friends should be happy for you; they should strive for their own success and happiness without coveting yours.
Gossiping is something all women are said to do, like going to public washrooms in pairs. But gossip is not natural or harmless; it’s a low form of communication. When two of my close friends fell out with each other, I found myself the monkey in the middle. It was horrible. So I told them I loved them both, then respectfully asked that they keep me out of their dramas. For years they fought and then made up, and then fought again. Inevitably one would ask about the other out of “concern” — when she was really just fishing for a scoop. If she were genuinely concerned, she would have reached out directly to our mutual friend — not through me. Eventually, it occurred to me that if my friends were talking behind their backs, it was just a matter of time before they talked about me behind mine. Gossip and trash talk should be reserved for celebrities and politicians, not the people you supposedly love. The older I get, the fewer friends I have. And I’m OK with that. Over the years, I’ve Marie Kondo-ed much of my social circle. It hasn’t been easy. Even though it was the right thing to do — and losing some friendships hurt, at least I know the ones I’ve kept are real and worth keeping.