WORDS by Riahta Ranford

Let me ask you a serious question: why do we have friends? No, really, think about it. There are plenty of reasons to make friends and even more to keep them, but I think we sometimes undersell ourselves and settle for whatever friend we can find, instead of taking the time to find the right people who will nurture and support us. 

We might have friends for convenience or at the most desperate of times, when we’re lonely. These aren’t reasons to stay in a friendship. And to find the ones that truly matter to us, we need to start weaning ourselves off the friendships that aren’t doing us any good. Plus, life will be surprisingly less of a burden once you’ve established that you need to let go of certain people to be happier. 

1. When they don’t respect you

Okay, this is super important. Respect. You’re a human being with valid emotions and have the right to be respected the way you are. Seriously, believe this and own this. It’s never nice to be walked over or silenced by a metaphorical ‘talk-to-the-hand’, but even worse when you start shrugging off their blatant disrespect as ‘it’s just who they are, I’ll get over it’. Please believe me when I tell you that you are worth a lot more than to be walked over or disregarded. 

2. When they don’t understand or accept your quirks

Maybe you like to dip salty McDonalds fries into your ice cream. Perhaps you still sleep with a childhood toy. Or maybe you prefer staying indoors and catching up on The Mindy Project to cradle your broken heart instead of painting the town red or blue or with vodka vomit. These beautiful quirks of yours aren’t mistakes or something to be ashamed of and if they can’t understand that or accept it, well there isn’t much point in forcing them to understand you if they can’t see past it. Don’t worry, there are people out there who still sleep with fluffy toys (that has me written all over that), you’re not alone. 

3. You feel drained or depressed after spending time with them

Everyone needs time to rant a little or weep with their friends and get things off your chest. That’s great. What’s not-so great, is when that person sees everything through a pair of unrelenting black, clouded and misguided sunglasses, and automatically assumes the very worst about your situation and doesn’t offer any solutions. There’s enough judgment in the world for a lifetime, just scroll through the all-consuming, ever-critical internet for proof. 

4. They aren’t willing to make any progress in their life

You’ve invested a lot of your time, energy and love in this ah-mazing person in who you can see so much potential, but they either don’t see it or desire it. This a difficult situation, a hard decision to cut them loose because they may genuinely be wonderful, but you can’t carry dreams for them. They must be the ones to take hold of their own dreams and face the challenge with determination. You can always be their supporter but instead of doing all the work, let them own their dreams. 

5. They always make excuses when you’ve made plans to meet up

Those many, many times you’ve tried more than a decent amount of times to set a concrete time and place to meet up, and each time they’ve said they can’t make it at the very last minute. Nothing is more awkward than pretending you’re purposely at the cinema on your own, instead of having to admit to yourself that your friend has once again bailed on you. Extra doses of whipped cream on that coffee please! 

6. If they’re never honest with you

I believe that honesty is a key in any relationship. I mean, imagine marrying someone you thought was a pen-pusher at a desk in a cubicle who turns out to be a member of a bikie gang or a CIA agent? No? Okay, I should really cut down on television time. In all seriousness though, being open and honest with each other is important to keep the lines of communication clear which makes sure there’s no miscommunication, assumptions or unnecessary confrontations. 

7. When you start lying FOR them

Need I say any more? It all begins very innocently, maybe naively, by lying to mutual friends for them. Don’t bend under the pressure or expectation of the friendship to feel obliged to start lying or covering up for them because it isn’t worth a) muddying the water with your mutual friends and b) sacrificing your values or tarnishing your reputation. 

8. When you don’t feel heard

Being heard and understood is something many people search for in relationships, and not having this can be a hard blow in a friendship. It may ‘slip their mind’ to ask you how your day was or how you’ve been, but really how hard is it to ask? I get it, people love talking about their lives but there needs to be a give-and-take exchange going on. Take a breath. Ask them how they are and really listen close. But if they aren’t reciprocating that with you, it might be time to have a cold beverage, don a onesie and evaluate this friendship. You deserve to be heard. 

9. They don’t take responsibility for their actions

These are the people who feel they can get away with almost anything (hopefully not murder) and usually leave a mess in their wake and then expect you to pick up the pieces. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but they are very much responsible for flushing that floater they left in the toilet the other night. Or the dishes that are piled in the sink after throwing a spontaneous party. Yes, even that fine they’ve been avoiding and perhaps hinting at you to help with money. Adulting is hard, I agree, but responsibility comes with it hand in hand. 

10. It’s the end of the world when you don’t have time for them

It's hard enough navigating your way through adulthood and you be swamped with your own life. There are suddenly bills you didn’t know existed that need paying and paying the rent isn’t this exciting adventure anymore. So it’s more than okay if you don’t have time for some people now and then. But if a friend is constantly creating huge dramas and demanding your time over small potatoes, this might be a good time to get assertive. 

11. They try to coerce you into something you’re not comfortable with

Drugs with fancy names, drinks that taste like lead and the like aren’t compulsory for you to try if you aren’t comfortable with them. If they’re trying that hard to persuade you, it really says more about them than yourself. So stand firm in your beliefs and know that you’re still very much a cool cat to be looking after yourself. 

12. You don’t feel successful/pretty/etc enough

Ah, yes. That friend who seems to be as thin as Angelina Jolie and just as gorgeous but also has the brains of Einstein and a job that doesn’t pay the minimum wage, not to mention gives to charity every month. It’s not cute if they’re rubbing their good works, success or looks in your face, and inevitably making every moment with them be filled with envy and a sense of inferiority. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought friendship was about being supportive and happy for one another, not a competition. Thoughts?

What other kind of friends do you think could do with letting go of?

Image Source via: Masha Mel

WORDS BY:  Riahta Ranford

Riahta is currently studying Counselling and Family Therapy. She enjoys baking on rainy days and going for dips when the sun is out. This naturally gifted wordsmith hopes to one day publish her own book and cycle around Italy.