I don’t know about you, but I take friendship extremely seriously. In order to even be considered my friend, I must trust a person unconditionally. Trust can take a long time to cultivate, and for some people – a very long time. I have been burned before. I think we all have, right? That’s how we learn to define the level of trust we expect and create boundaries around it. So, in a lot of ways, being burned can actually be beneficial for us.

We formulate our relationships around our personal definition of trust. Dictionary.com defines trust as, reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, or surety of a person or thing; having confidence.  This simple definition isn’t really simple at all. When we break it down, trust is a reliance on another person or object, so it’s no wonder things can get complicated.

Take the word integrity, for example. My definition of integrity vs. your definition of integrity might differ greatly. Since integrity is largely based upon moral principles, there is a lot of grey area in its respective definition. Each of our childhoods involved different circumstances and experiences, filled with many complicated relationships. These relationships created models in which we have formulated our perceptions around what is right from wrong, good from bad. As we grew older, these interpretations molded our adult relationships – still based on our perceptions. As a result, we often times misjudge people and situations, while aware of it. We believe that we are “right” and the other person is “wrong”. The grey area is where we should keep our focus. We should be curious about this grey area. This is where our differences lie and more importantly where connections can be cultivated.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about the ‘grey area’

  1. How true are my assumptions and what judgements am I making?
  2. What makes me “believe” [blank] to be true?
  3. Where in my past do I recognize similar behavior or situations? Have I been surprised in the past? If so when. And if so, why?
  4. Have I taken into consideration the other person’s viewpoint? What past relationships could they be basing their definitions on?
  5. Am I listening and remaining open to other possibilities?

Once you begin to explore a relationship or situation from this vantage point, you can then decide whether or not to put your energy into nurturing it, or not. You have the choice to either accept the friendship and continue to work on finding “common ground” or “break up” and go your separate ways. The latter is where things can get awkward.

You know it’s time to “break up” with your friend when….

You’ve had it! You have given the relationship your all, and tried to understand the behavior of the other person, but it’s not working. Here are some things you might have noticed.

  1. They are self-interested, egotistical, and never show concern for you or your interests.
  2. You feel that you are always the one making the effort. No matter how many times you let them know that they are not putting the same energy into the relationship as you are, their behavior doesn’t change.
  3. They have broken your confidence and/or betrayed your trust more than once.
  4. They don’t have your best interests at heart.
  5. You stop calling them and they don’t seem to notice.

Here are some tips on how to “break up” with your friend…

  1. Ease into the break up by giving them chances to show you how much they care and if they don’t respond, there is no need for you to respond. Let it go. Don’t start an argument or confront them.
  2. Incite conversations about your concerns with the friendship. For example, “I really would appreciate it if…….” or “I liked when we used to……”  but be open to listening to the other person’s response. Don’t jump to judgement. It could be a simple case of awareness. If they get stuck in defense mode, then move on.
  3. Never bad mouth your friend. They came into your life for a reason and they have a purpose. Most likely, they are providing you with a very important lesson you need to learn.
  4. Support one another in future friendship choices. Don’t get jealous.
  5. Let time lapse. Time heals all wounds.

One of the hardest things to do in life is walk away from someone. But until you realize that no matter how slowly you walk, they will never come running after you all you’ll really be doing is running after someone who has already walked away from you.