Where Do You Fit In? The One Expectation That Will Kill Any Friendship

Best friends are not always forever

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Photo by Elijah O’Donnell from Pexels

Good friendships are hard to find and even harder to maintain.

Recently, I’ve been reevaluating my friendship circle and thinking about where I fit into each of my friend’s lives.

Where did this pondering streak come from?

This quote I read on Facebook really resonated with me:

Have you ever read a quote and it stabs you right in “the feels”? This quote did something to me.

In the last couple of years, most of my close friends have been going through some kind of transition: Breakups, moving, university graduation or acceptance, babies, the decision not to have babies, and the list goes on.

I have never seen less of my friend circle and to be honest: It sucks!

It’s not just them though — it’s me too. I’m the matriarch of my little nuclear family and I’m a writer. As we all know, both of these roles can be isolating.

However, I still have time for those who matter to me. If you want to keep a friendship going, a two-way street is paramount.

Sometimes you need to know your place in someone’s life, because you might get hurt if you expect too much. — Unknown

Someone who is very dear to me taught me the lesson this quote is trying to get across. We were close friends for years, talked daily, and seen each other at least once a week.

Then a major transition happened in her life.

I watched her slip away and felt hurt the entire time. I reached out constantly and tried to salvage our dying friendship.

She would post pictures of herself with other friends at events I was not invited to. Whenever we hung out, it felt forced on her part.

I would write messages to her, asking to get together and never received an answer. That shit hurt and if I’m being honest, it still hurts.

Then I found this quote, I realized she wasn’t a bad friend but my place in her life had changed. I was no longer a close friend but an acquaintance to her.

Our lives were going in different directions and we had changed individually and collectively.

She was not wrong, but the way she told me the friendship had changed was.

I have stopped reaching out to her first but I keep the door wide-open for her return.

What would have happened if I didn’t read this quote?

I would’ve continued to attempt to breathe life into something that doesn’t want to live. I would be resentful, angry, and hurt.

  • Instead I’m letting my friend go while thinking: “Fly little bird, fly!”
  • Instead I’m making new friends online through the writing community and reconnecting with old friends.
  • Instead I’m spending time on myself and the people who want me in their inner circle.

I realized what my role in her life is and I stepped back. To me, she is now an acquaintance and that is perfectly ok.

So how do we know when to reevaluate our place in someone’s life?

There are many tell-tale signs that your close friend has become an acquaintance. Typically, they make themselves known but we are in denial and don’t recognize them right away.

  • If your friend is sometimes canceling or forgetting the plans you’ve made.
  • They seldom reply to your messages or emails.
  • They seem to have time for others but not for you.
  • They know something major is going on in your life and they don’t reach out.
  • Something feels fake or forced when you’re interacting.

The signs are similar to the “breakup dance” most of us have experienced in the past.

There is an exception to this rule: If you think your friend is depressed, don’t pull back. The signs of depression can be similar to the signs of a friendship changing. If other friends or family are noticing the same things with this person, it’s not about you.

In this case, nothing changes. Keep reaching out to them until you get an answer. If no one in your circle has heard from them, call the police to do a wellness check.

You have noticed the signs of a transition in your friendship, what do you do?

It’s a simple act that says a lot: Step back.

That’s it, no need for a dramatic gesture. Do not delete them off of social media and do not tell them you’re stepping back.

NEVER involve any of your mutual friends in this decision.

This will only sour things further. By simply stepping back, you’re keeping the friendship open but you’re also maintaining your dignity.

Now, the ball is in their court.

You have done what you needed to do for this friendship. Chances are you are exhausted from trying to salvage something that is no longer there.

Trust me, It will be liberating to leave it behind and close this chapter — for now.

This doesn’t mean the friendship is over: You’re “on a break”.

What if this is your only friend or your best friend?

I am lucky enough to be very social and have a number of friends and friend groups.

I realize not everyone has the time to build these groups or some people only like to have a couple friends at one time.

Needless to say, this makes “stepping back” difficult, but it’s still possible!

It’s time to make new friends!

  • Observe people at work, find someone you have commonalities with, and talk to them!
  • Make friends online through Facebook or Twitter. Chatting online is a good way to pass the time and it’s relatively safe as long as you protect yourself.
  • Reconnect with old friends and family you don’t see a lot.
  • Join a new activity and meet people through your new hobby.

Regardless if this is your only friend or not, they’re sending you a clear message by not reciprocating your efforts.

You have to respect their wishes and move on — for now.

Remember, this doesn’t mean the friendship is over, think of it like you’re “on a break”.

A healthy friendship is always a two-way street.

If you sense something is off with your friendship, it probably is.

Knowing your place in someone’s life ensures that you don’t have high expectations and this keeps you from getting hurt.

When both parties know where they stand it makes a relationship flow.

When one person thinks they’re more important in someone’s life than they actually are, this is where problems arise.

Look at this as an opportunity to make new friends who want to maintain a friendship with you.

Love yourself and your friend enough to say goodbye — for now.

Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics.

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Wife, mother, and researcher of a myriad of subjects. I love to write about anything and everything! Writer for The Startup, Better Marketing, & The Ascent👊

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