Letting Go of Friendships & Walking Alone

With fools, there is no companionship. Rather than to live with men who are selfish, vain, quarrelsome, and obstinate, let a man walk alone. 
Buddha

The older I get, the fewer people I really choose to open up to. It’s like I’ve found the perfect dress silhouette or my favorite food and I just want to wear it all the time.

I’ve found the people I know who will see me through this (and future) seasons of life, and I don’t necessarily need to seek other confidants. Of course, I’m happy to make friends - it’s just that all of the closest roles are happily filled.

But what do you do when the issue isn’t getting new friends, but is actually getting rid of old ones?

When good friendships go bad

Of course, there’s the obvious falling out - the friendship ends in a blaze of animosity and finality. But what about the quiet, subtle endings?

This is where honesty and careful consideration of the people you once held so dear are essential. There are three outcomes of this analysis, and some mean that you might be better off without that person.

If this friend still adds value and joy to your life, then nurture that friendship. Allow it to grow and create scenarios where it will blossom - road trips, coffee dates, skype calls, have at it.

If this relationship no longer adds value or joy to your life, and in fact tends to remove value or joy, then it’s probably time to start letting go. You might find that the relationship is one-sided, based on drama or gossip, or is just unhealthy for you. More on letting go later in this post.

But first, let’s talk about the difficult third situation.

Friends with neutral benefits

I’ve found this to be the case most often with old or out of touch relationships. People can still hold a huge place in your heart, but no longer add or remove joy from your life.

This is tough, but it is a situation that can be handled with love and kindness.

Let the person go slowly, maybe by making yourself less available to them. Don’t force yourself to cut off contact - remember, this person has been important to you. The times you do speak with them or see them in person will then be more special than they had been before.

If they didn’t get to the point of having a place in your heart, then it’s much easier to reduce contact to the bare minimum.

I know this sounds a bit harsh, but keeping people around just because you feel bad about letting them go is like keeping every bit of clothing you’ve ever owned. You don’t really need it, it doesn’t fit, it’s no longer usable...so let it go.

Letting go

The clothing analogy is not to mean that it’s easy and emotionless to let go. Sometimes, the people who start to detract from our lives are the people we held closest at another point in our lives.

If you truly believe it’s for the best, then remind yourself of that. Work on deepening other relationships to help ease the (sometimes painful) transition. Think about it this way: am I happy sharing the deepest parts of myself with this person, and is it safe for me to do so?

Safety in friendships means that you are accepted, with much kindness and little judgment, and heard out. A positive friendship is not one that will immediately reject you the moment they disagree or when you need them the most.

If you feel like you can’t let go because you don’t have many other friends, then know this: it really is about quality over quantity. 

Having more people around you doesn’t make you a full person. Having the right people around you means that you have help to realize that you already are a full person. Even when it’s only one or two others.

Going back to the quote from the beginning of the post - it really is better to walk alone than it is to walk with people with whom you no longer share a mutual respect. Kindly see them off to their new path, then start your own in the direction you want to go.