A few weeks ago I answered a question on how to break up with a friend without burning bridges. The gist:
“ Be honest or just let that friend drop away. Don’t respond and don’t think twice about cutting out negativity, or toxic ties even if it’s family. Sadly many times it is. Then you are cordial and loving when you have to see them and you are better off when you don’t.” – 40-something, artist, producer, Los Angeles
But sometimes it’s not a break up that is needed – just simply some space. For many women friends are their lifeline –always there when jobs and dreams and boyfriends come and go. The shoulder to lean on with tears both from laughter and from fears. However like every relationship…there has to be some ebb and flow. Even the best of friends need a break everything now and then. These are four times you need to give your friends a break or give them some space.
1. Give them a break from being an emotional dumping ground. Sometimes you’re so caught up in your trauma that you can’t hear what your friends are saying or going through. Or you simply just have the same basic conversation over and over with subtle variations and questions. You should set a limit on length of time you’re allowed to dominate a conversation about your breakup, bad boss or crazy friend.
You do get a break up / laid off grace period. And a friend should always have an ear for anything bothering you, even if it was the same thing that was bothering you last week and last year….just not for the entirety of the time you talk. You are not going to see it at the time, but you are being selfish at best or at worst, grossly downplaying your friend’s issues because yours loom so large in your mind. So understand when they stop returning your calls so quickly.
2. Space to not talk about your problems. The other side of this is that you have to understand there will be times your friends just need space from hearing about your problems. They just may have some personal issues they are dealing with so they just don’t have the space to take on yours.
3. Space to not talk about their problems. A build on #2. Sometimes you need to give a friend a break to deal with their issues without having to tell you everything. A sign of a good friendship isn’t that they have to tell you everything…all the time…on demand.
4. A break from bitching about your job. When you and a work friend continually trash talking your job it just sets a negative force in motion. It likely makes the job worse than it really is. Even if it is you just complaining to a friend who doesn’t work with you, at some point you have to take it as a sign you need to do something about it other than talk.
5. Space to change. Sometimes we like to keep our friends they way we were when we found them. Remember those memories when they do chance and support their growth and nurture them through the growing pains.
6. Space to make mistakes. Enough said. A true friend is a non-judgmental friend. You can give them a loving opinion and share you concerns but you can’t live their life for them (this does not apply to issues concerning dangers to your health).