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friendship issues grown women

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Friendship politics are incredibly delicate. While romantic breakups are painful, at least everyone understands the need for them. Unless you’re polyamorous, you have an understanding that you’ll just have one partner. If that relationship isn’t doing great, you end it. However, with friendships, it’s different. There isn’t a true need – at least not an obvious one – to end a friendship, because it’s not like you must get rid of one friend to make room for another, the way you do with a romantic partner. That could be the reason so many of us hoard old friends to whom we no longer feel close in the same way we hang onto clothes we no longer use: “It’s not harming me to keep them around. Maybe someday they’ll come in handy.”

While it may not seem like you need to sever ties with one friend to make room for another, you actually kind of do. Each of us only has so much emotional and mental bandwidth to utilize, and every person in our lives takes up a little bit of it. Don’t you want to maximize your emotional and mental real estate by filling it with the right people who energize, inspire, and motivate you? A few really close friends are worth so much more than tons of acquaintances, and yet, we often let friendships fade into associations without even realizing it. When that happens, you take a more passive role in those friendships, going through the motions to keep things alive rather than really nurturing the relationship. Here are signs that’s happening in one of your friendships.

You plan, cancel, reschedule, repeat

You talk about making plans with this friend often. You have a cycle, by which you text one another to make a plan, say you need to check your schedules and get back to one another, take a long time to do that, make a plan, cancel it as the date gets closer (for a silly reason), reschedule, cancel that, and eventually, put a pin in it. You can do this over and over again, and suddenly realize you only see each other a few times a year. Maybe less. However, all of that communicating about potentially seeing each other gives the illusion of being in one another’s lives.

You mostly text

Most of your communication happens over text now, and major events prompt the contact. For example, you text each other “Happy birthday!” or “Happy New Year!” Then you go through an obligatory exchange of “How are things?” texts. You give surface-level updates, and then go silent until the next special occasion. You might be like some faux friends who stay in touch by sending one another funny memes, gifs, or articles from time to time. You riff about that, and get the impression that you’re still connected because you still share a sense of humor, but your friendship would be at a standstill without meme accounts.

You don’t do the deep dive

When you do chat, you ask questions like “How is work?” and “How is your family?” If you live in different parts of the world, you even ask about the weather. You go over the very surface-level topics to essentially make sure the other is still alive, married, in the same industry, in the same house, etc. But you do not discuss deeper topics, like revelations you’ve had about your passion in life, your emotional status, your breakthroughs in therapy, things like that. You and this friend have very little knowledge of the deeper inner workings of each other’s psyches and feelings.

You meet up at odd hours

You know what your prime social time is. Those are probably your Friday and Saturday nights. You give those to the people who make you really happy. You give that time to people with whom you feel really close, and who you can fully be yourself around. That is your most precious free time and you’re selective about who you spend it with. You don’t spend it with this one particular friend. This friend you see for, say, 10 a.m. breakfast on a Saturday, or a 1 p.m. walk on a Sunday. You hang out by going to the gym together early on a weekday. But this friend wouldn’t be the friend you hit the town with on a Friday night.

They only know the old you

With some friends, you feel like they really don’t know who you are today. When you talk, you only talk about the good old days. You revert back to the state of mind or maturity level you were at when your friendship first formed. You may not even like who that is today – you don’t like the old you, or that old version of this friend – but you only get along when you revert to that. Ultimately, you feel like you have a second identity that this friend knows nothing about. Having this friend around your closest friends now would be awkward because each party sees you entirely differently.

You wouldn’t inconvenience yourself

You would no longer go out of your way to see or speak to this friend. You don’t make time for them, but rather, you slip them into whatever free time you have left over after planning out things with your preferred friends. This friend is essentially on your B list…or C list. Even for phone calls, you would rather not spend your time on the phone with them. You call this friend while you are driving, waiting in line somewhere, or walking your dogs. If you can’t multitask while talking to this person, you’d rather wait to call until you feel you have to. Basically, you only see them as deserving of part of your attention.

You don’t know their circle

You don’t really know the other people this friend seems to hang out with. You have heard a lot about her other good friends, but they’re all just stories to you. You’ve never met the people she clearly spends a lot of time with. When you catch up, you hear about the trips or girls’ nights she had with other people. You aren’t a part of those memories. You just get the play by play after the fact. Likewise, this friend has never met some of the most important people in your life. It says a lot if introducing one another to your circles is not a priority.

You’d feel uncomfortable asking for a favor

You would feel completely rude asking this friend for a favor. In fact, when you think of asking her for help, that’s when you realize just how surface-level your friendship has become. You know that it would feel completely random if you asked this friend to drive you to the airport, pick you up from surgery, help you move, watch your dog, bring you soup while you were sick, make a professional introduction for you, or anything along those lines. You haven’t made nearly enough deposits into that friendship bank to be making withdrawals. And if this friend asked you for such a favor, you’d feel put off.


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You wouldn’t lean on this person

You don’t speak to this person during tough times. You just don’t feel close enough to this friend to retrieve any real comfort from her when you need it. You know who your real friends are based on who you want around you when the going gets tough. You want to be around or hear from friends who you feel deeply care about you. Then there are friends who you totally ghost during rocky times. You only catch up with them when you’ve come out of a tough time and can put on a happy face again. This friend fits that category.

You’ve missed major updates

When you catch up with this friend, you learn major things have happened in her life since you last spoke. They happened a long time ago, and this is the first time you’re hearing about it. Maybe you learn this person was seriously ill for a while, or had an invasive surgery and went through physical therapy. Maybe you learn they had a mental breakdown. Perhaps you learn they’ve been in AA now for several months. Maybe you learn that they’ve quit their job. But, while they were going through that, they didn’t reach out to you. They too go ghost on you during their hard times.

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