Let's be clear. Friendships grow and change from the varying seasons in our lives.
We've all heard the saying that compares people to leaves of a tree, and it's true. Some people are in our lives for a semester or a short season. Others can stay for years and it seems like they're integrated into our nuclear family. Still, even lengthy friendships sometimes come to an end, or at least a period of great change. Sometimes, it's no longer healthy for you to place energy into that space. That is okay. That does not mean someone is at fault.
Other times, our old pal may have become unsupportive to our new endeavors or simply only acknowledging you in ways beneficial to themselves. However, that "unsupportive pal" may very well be yourself. At one point in time, we can be one person, but years down the road we can be a completely different person. However, just because we are all bound to change does not mean that we will change at the same rate, or even change in the same ways.
1. The things that brought you together were trivial
From our time as giggling elementary school children, we learned to capitalize on the things we had in common with other people. As children, something as simple as having the same favorite color could be the basis of a friendship.
By our middle school years, we're creating a friend circle based on having similar music tastes or the same love for a television show. That is all fine if we're looking for someone to attend a concert with us or to just binge watch Netflix on Saturday nights.
However, when facing things like a loved one's passing or our first encounters with anxiety, those simple similarities will not matter. These people have proven we can have a good time with them. Still, as the saying goes, "everyone that smiles in your face is not your friend."
2. The foundation of similarities has stunted your growth
Building a friendship in our later years based on similarities usually stunts our growth. At one point in time, we can be one person, but years down the road we can be a completely different person. However, just because we are all bound to change does not mean that we will change at the same rate, or even change in the same ways.
Sometimes, we unconsciously keep previous, less evolved versions of ourselves on standby, ready to pull our old selves out to fit in with these people when we're around them. We've changed into a person that still loves them, but no longer fits in with their lifestyle.That skeleton of who we once were is nothing but extra baggage. Pretending to be the more naive, childish version of yourself from years past to please the people that once brought you so much joy is the same as pretending to be someone you are not. We are not that person anymore. Do not stunt your growth by taking steps back- or even by trying to bring them forward along with you.
3. They no longer confront you
Confrontation. Some of us hate being confronted and others hate confronting people. Nonetheless, if your friend were perhaps speaking ill of a person without regard for their circumstances, wouldn't you confront them?
Often times we humans make irrational decisions. However, with love, the people around us often guide us back to the "higher road" that they know we're capable of walking. From the elders in our family, that guidance may be a scolding. But from a friend, that guidance is a confrontation. They love you and want to see you aspire to higher reaches more than they care if they momentarily hurt your feelings.
If your friend has gotten to the point where they no longer care enough to correct you when they can, that may be a sign that they no longer have your best interest at heart the way a friend should.
4. Change creates a shift in heart posture
When good news arises, most people cannot wait to share it with those they love most. Usually, the people we feel the need to share the news with attributed to the help or watched the progress. Maybe they helped you study for that exam, or they read over your resume before you applied for that job. Maybe they're far away, and you simply told them about the event.
If you speak about your success and their attitude changes, that is a significant signal that their heart posture towards you has shifted. If you can no longer tell your friend about your positive news without them swiftly changing the conversation or being upset, it's highly likely the friendship you once had with them has concluded.
5. They are unsupportive
So many people in this generation are innovators or entrepreneurs. Often, I log on to social media to someone new putting their talent in make-up, styling, writing, crocheting, or baking to use. Usually, their friends are the first to comment and share with a caption along the lines of "My friend is selling her amazing product." or "She's having a discount for prom!"
It cost them absolutely nothing to take time out of their day to share your business endeavor with others on their friend list. Understandably, they may not be in the market to purchase the good or service you've tried your hand at providing, but their relationship with you led them to at least support you in any way possible.
If your friend is never at events you host, makes jokes about your dreams or ambitions, or maybe even flat out turn you down when you ask for help, their unsupportive actions may be a sign it is time to move on from them.
6. Their loyalty wavers
Most friendships have an occurrence that is considered "their thing." For some people, that may be the routine of going on movie nights every third Saturday or always meeting in the gym for an early morning workout. It may feel like an act of betrayal to be told "I've already seen that movie with someone else" or "I work out at night with someone else now." Their loyalty to your routine has changed.
This change is not always a bad thing. Again, we all grow and change. Having new people introduced into your life or having a shift in a normal routine is bound to happen at one point or another. This change is not to be held against them. However, how they go about the change is what you should evaluate them on.
How do they break the change to you? Do you find out from another friend, or perhaps their new commitment tells you in a malicious way? Are these changes discussed or adjusted for, or do they become a new reality without a replacement for the other party? How your friend communicates and modifies their time to include you in their busy lives is to be evaluated, especially when their new friend is wrapped into their schedule.
7. You feel their season in your life is up
People come and go. The person that taught you so much may one day be the one that cannot reach you. We all have someone that has crossed our path. Whether it was for two years or 12 years, they were with us for a season. Perhaps there will be a place for them again. However, the tension of growing up and finding ourselves is not always a good environment for people who were compatible with what we used to be.
We are all young. We're experiencing change, branching out, and growing into who we are to be. Just because the snaggled-toothed children we once were are not compatible with the life-loving youth we currently are, does not mean the gray-headed versions of us will not find our way back to each other.
Maybe at this point, we need new faces, ideas, locations, and new people to help us in our new seasons of life. Our growth can separate us from others, but it can also bring us closer. Sometimes that separation is for the permanent best. Only our future selves can know, however.
Some friendships are life long, but that does not mean they are active during all stages of life.
And some friendships are for a season. Let us not force them to overstay their welcome.
because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up."
We are reminded in Proverbs 12:20, "Walk with the wise and become wise,
for a companion of fools suffers harm."
We should focus on becoming better versions of ourselves. As we are worked on, the people we need will come into our lives and serve their season.
Let us strive to walk with the wise and also be wise.