One Dead Giveaway A Friend is No Longer A Real Friend
Hey, friend. Ever thought about the list of the things you’ve forgiven your friends for doing over the years? I know I have mine. For example, it includes forgiving them for:
— Being inconsistent.
— Being a little messy.
— A little rude.
— For changing.
— For no longer being compatible.
But there is one thing that cannot be forgiven.
Frankly, it should not be tolerated. Period.
Friends hurt each other from time to time, it’s natural. Sometimes we say or do something that invades someone's personal space or crosses an invisible boundary. We get offended or hurt and we see how, if not addressed, it changes the whole dynamic of a group setting or the vibe between two people. So what matters is what follows: the call-out and the response.
A good sign of a healthy relationship is usually tested at this point. And if your friend can’t or isn’t willing to listen to your mini-intervention, then it waves huge red flags. I know it did for me recently after a 14-year friendship went quickly down the drain over the one thing that would’ve saved it.
Everyone’s communication style is different, but a friend’s resistance to admitting their faults for hurting you shows a lacks empathy and trust. It reveals more about their personality and their idea of power over you and others.
It is a subtle disregard of your feelings. A mockery of your pain. And what such friends fail to realize is that calling them out on their shit is often very hard on the accuser as much as the accused. And I want you to understand this when you’re the one on the end holding the gun to their head, feeling like a piece of crap for doing so.
You Deserve To Breathe Clean Air
No real friend ever wants to put another in a bad situation. Bringing up an issue and asking for an apology often comes from a place of insecurity needing to be quashed or a set of boundaries needing to be rebuilt.
At any age, we desire high-quality, healthy relationships. Yet as we get older, we crave it more. I’m currently unafraid of being honest about who to weed out of my life to keep those healthy ones. If I’ve offended my friends in some way, I want them to tell me — and vice versa — so that we can have an open conversation where no one feels awkward or judged. Hurt and been hurt, we all want people in our lives who support each other and move forward together.
Apologizing may not always be enough, but the effort of simply saying “sorry” is more powerful than people realize. A simple sorry can soothe open cuts and quiet fears. A simple sorry can create a safe space where both sides want to willingly admit and correct their faults. A simple sorry can lead to faster healing and a bond stronger than before.
Don’t tear your heart out for someone who refuses to hold it.
I get that not everyone has grown up in healthy environments where such morals can be nurtured or instilled, but you should not have to spoon-feed a friend what you need to feel heard.
You should not have to spend two hours of your life trying to explain to someone — supposedly close in your life — when you or others feel disrespected.
You should not have to spend two hours of your life trying to reason why the integrity of your friendship or an entire group relationship is at risk.
You should not have to spend two hours of your life trying to suggest outlines for how to repair the damage— gently I might add, to not make them more offended.
You should not have to do all of this with a friend…all for them to investigate every claim you make and argue why they’re not the problem. Counters usually sound like this and they’re the ones you need to look out for:
- Someone else is the problem, so go fight them— They call this triangulation in Psychology Today.
- It was the situation at the time — It’s not an isolated event that gets to be forgotten. Someone got hurt. We’re trying to redraw the line in the sand now so it doesn’t happen again.
- You’re remembering it wrong — This is a common example of gaslighting. Vox did a great article on it so you can recognize the signs.
- Well, you’ve done bad things too — Silly me, I guess I’m the one who should apologize to you and everything cancels out.
Someone unable to apologize will usually pull out one or more of these lovely excuses in the hope that they’re off the hook. It comes from a place of victimhood, not agency, and you should have friends in your life who see the value in the latter.
This is What a Real Friend Will Sound Like When the Chips Are Down
“Oh shit, I didn’t realize what I did hurt you, man. I’m really sorry and I’m glad you told me. Anything I can do to help or fix it?”
The wording might be different depending on your friend’s lingo but you understand the tone. You can hear the genuine empathy. This is the green flag you need to look out for in your friendship. Forgive the friends that take the time to see and respect you, even if it’s hard for them based on their personality or communication style. And please gently leave behind the ones that outright don’t.
So I hope you can continue to forgive your friends for a multitude of reasons. If you already do, that’s great! But please be careful of the ones who don’t deserve it because they refuse to apologize when it actually hurts you. And if you feel like the relationship is no longer serving you, then you have every permission to leave it and find the ones that do. The healthiest ones will always endure and sometimes even blossom in these conditions.
I know with the pandemic currently pushing everyone’s buttons, many of us feel like our closest relationships are being tested. But I’m here to remind you that your feelings are valid and that you should stand up for yourself (and others) if you felt disrespected.
You’ll be better for it in the end, and so will the person you talk to — even if they don’t know it or are too late to see it.