Saying goodbye to a friend or family member who doesn’t really have your best interests is a difficult process. Walking away doesn’t happen overnight; you don't wake up one morning and realize someone is not a good friend.
The truth is, you’ve probably known this relationship is one-sided for quite some time, but you continued making excuses for their bad behavior.
- She’s probably really busy and forgot we were supposed to hang out tonight. Again. It’s okay.
- He probably forgot I wanted to see that movie with him and he invited someone else. It’s okay.
- She didn’t seem very excited for me when I told her I got published in a magazine. I’m sure she has a lot on her mind right now. It’s okay.
We constantly make excuses for insensitive behavior because it’s coming from someone we love.
Why is that? Why do so many of us do this? And why is it so hard to stop?
If it were easy, we would say goodbye to any relationship in our life that wasn’t a two-way street. We would break up with every partner who didn’t treat us as we deserved and we would leave fake friends behind.
The problem is it’s not that easy to stand up against someone we care about.
It’s not that easy to call the people we love out or to tell them we're no longer going to stick around and suffer the consequences of their selfish ways.
But when we look at our relationships, romantic or otherwise, we tend to weigh the history of our relationship subconsciously. Yes, one of the things we hold dearest to our hearts is the time we’ve invested with this person.
If we’ve spent 10 years building a life with our partner, no matter how many of those years were unhappy, those 10 years are important. And when we’re ready to move forward with our lives, we wonder if it’s really worth it to just walk away from 10 years. We tell ourselves––10 years is so long. I don’t want to start over with someone new. I don’t want to start the dating process over. I don’t want to accept that in those 10 years, he never changed.
The time we’ve spent in any relationship complicates things. And time aside, as much as we like to tell ourselves we’re strong enough to walk away, that’s not the reality. Truthfully, it takes courage and a lot of confidence to accept you’re not loving yourself by keeping this toxic person in your life.
It takes lots of self-love to walk away from a life-long friend who is hurting you or someone you’re in love with, even though you know you’re hurting yourself by keeping them around.
I have a friend that I used to call anytime something good happened to me.
We had been friends for many years and been through a lot together. Although we didn’t have much in common as of lately, she was still someone I considered a friend. The problem was every time we spoke on the phone, I could tell she wasn’t really listening to what I had to say. It was almost as if she was just waiting for me to finish speaking so she could share her thoughts. It was rude, but I always just excused it by thinking, “Well, that’s just the way she is. She’s not a very good listener.”
One of the last times we spoke, I was in the middle of a personal story when I heard a lot of noise in the background. I stopped talking when I heard her talking to someone else.
When she got back on the phone, she didn’t even acknowledge that I was in the middle of my story. She didn’t apologize because I don’t believe she was aware I was telling her a story before her interruption. It made me really sad, but it made me feel even worse when she said, “It was great talking to you but I have to go.” In the middle of my story.
For a moment, it hurt my feelings. Just for a moment. Then I became upset at myself. I realized this is how she’s always been.
Why do I get upset when others act the way they’ve always acted and treat me the way they’ve always treated me?
Unless I stand up for myself and vocalize my issues with their behavior, why would I expect anyone to change on their own?
The same mantra goes for the “friend” who would reach out to me once in a while, never asking how I am, or asking anything about me at all. All she would do is text me for a favor she assumed I would already do for her. Not asking for a favor, but telling me. Because she knew I’d probably say yes. And while in the past, I may have agreed to help her out without acknowledging that I was being disrespectful to myself by doing favors for her, I couldn’t do it anymore. That is not true friendship.
When I look back at our relationship, I realize, she was never my friend.
A real friend would never promise you a ticket to a show, and then give it to someone else without an explanation. A real friend wouldn’t invite you on a trip last minute, and then uninvite because someone else better agreed to come and there wasn’t enough space for both of you. A real friend wouldn’t ditch your plans because she was tired, and then you find out later, she went out with other friends instead.
These examples are from my real life, and they are not true friendships.
Relationships cannot be one-sided.
It’s unhealthy and feelings get hurt. One person is taken advantage of, and if you’re a nice person, it’s usually you.
I have found myself many times in a one-sided relationship and I was always the person who would offer and never receive. I would present my friendship to them and the other person would gladly take it but never reciprocate.
I used to think, “Well that’s just how I am.”
I’m a sensitive, thoughtful person. When I care for someone, it’s with all of my heart. I’ve always considered myself to be a nice person but toxic people take advantage of that. Now I know, it’s necessary to say goodbye to those kinds of people. It’s a part of our self-growth and improvement. And there is nothing wrong with ending a relationship that is one-sided.
This article is for all of the sensitive people who don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The ones who always put others before themselves. Don’t ever stop being kind. Your kindness is part of what people love about you and it makes you who you are. But don’t let anyone interpret your kindness as a weakness. Those people are the ones you need to say goodbye to.
There is nothing wrong with saying goodbye to a toxic friend.
There is nothing wrong with saying no to hanging out with people who never do the things you want to do. There is nothing wrong with loving yourself enough to recognize that you shouldn’t keep the company of fake friends who don’t support your dreams as you do theirs.
Love yourself enough to say goodbye to any relationship that isn’t serving you and walk away.
Easier said than done; I know.
This type of courage and self-care takes practice. It takes maturity. It takes compassion.
But we should love ourselves enough to recognize we deserve friends and partners who are as invested in our feelings as we are in theirs.
© Jessica Lovejoy 2020. All Rights Reserved.