Lockdown has opened our eyes to a lot of things that weren't working in our lives - but does that include friendships?
Our relationships with our friends are just as important as our romantic relationships, sometimes even more so. Often they’re lifelong friends, other times it may be someone you met mere months ago and just clicked with. But recently, I began questioning why we hold our romantic relationship to a higher standard than other relationship, and why we may sometimes put up with more emotional labour, snarky comments and broken promises from our friends than we would our significant others. Some people see friendships as an unbreakable bond, particularly those friends who’ve been around the majority of our lives.
Despite the iconic Spice Girls singing that friendship never ends (I hope you’re hitting that high note right now), we may, of course, drift apart from some mates over tie.
But if there’s anything that we have all learned from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s to appreciate those around you even more. This is why it may actually be the perfect time to remove any toxic or negative friendships from your life.
Ending a friendship can seem even more difficult at the moment, though; with basically every form of communication available to us, we have no excuse for not staying in contact with someone, or for bowing out of plans over and over (what do you have to do, another Zoom quiz?!).
We’re told from an early age that friends are for life, chicks before dicks and all that – but the stark reality is that sometimes friends simply outgrow each other, and realise that they’re not the same people who once looked at each other as dear pals. Let’s be real, you don’t really need that friend who only contacts you if they’ve nothing better to do, or when they want you to be their emotional punching bag.
Unfortunately, there’s no step-by-step guide on how to end a friendship, and there’s also no ultimate list of signs that spell out when it’s time to officially let go of certain people. It all comes down to circumstances, and what kind of relationship you have with the so-called friend that you’re questioning. It’s a challenging, sometimes heartbreaking decision, and the reasons aren’t always clear cut.
Speaking to STELLAR, Sorcha explained that taking some time away from the outside world led her to rethink who was in her circle. “Like others, I have small friend groups from different areas of my life. A few from my childhood town, from college, from an old job – that kind of thing. I don’t see my friends from my hometown as often as others, but now that visiting them was out of the question, my eyes have been opened to some of their behaviour. Some have vastly different opinions on important life matters to me, which we’ve never really discussed in-depth.
“Just like so many others, I was quite worried throughout lockdown, and probably even more so now that things are easing. A couple of my friends weren’t taking these things seriously, they were organising and attending house parties, not adhering to social distancing, and now, they’re blatantly not wearing face masks anywhere.
“It may sound minor to some, and maybe it’s something that shouldn’t end or even disrupt a friendship. But to me, it just felt like complete disrespect, showing how selfish they can be. This then reminded me of other times where their disrespect and selfishness was so overwhelmingly obvious, even though I didn’t see it at the time.”
Often people say that when you go through a tough time in your life, you realise who your real friends are. A pandemic is the perfect example of that; while we’re all going through similar situations, seeing how others react to them can be eye-opening.
Sorcha reckons she’s not alone in questioning her relationships right now. “I realised that, even without their current behaviour, I would probably be better off without these particular friends in my life. I decided to put myself first,” she explains. “I explained to them that I didn’t think that how they were behaving was right, and of course, they disagreed. But immediately, I felt that a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I know that there must be other people going through the same thing, whether it’s due to the pandemic itself, other negative opinions or situations that may have come to light, or genuinely drifting apart.”
Over the past few months, we’ve been inundated with everything from TV ads to murals reminding us that in these unprecedented times, we need to stick together. But sticking with friends who only bring your mood down, constantly show their negative sides, and sneer more often than smile, just because an ad for a bank insists that we do so, isn’t exactly the way to go.
Of course, I’m in no way telling you that you should ditch all your friends who have made you raise an eyebrow once or twice – it’s when they’re genuinely affecting your mood and wellbeing, and you begin to dread seeing their name pop up on your phone, hearing their opinions or spending any amount of time with them.
If anything, now is the time to look at your priorities; your family, the friends you consider family, your significant other, your job, whatever it may be. Ask yourself, what lights up your life? And who makes your days seem more difficult than they need to be? Now is the ideal time to evaluate who and what you want in your life, and chop and change the areas that aren’t up to snuff.
Chances are, there’s at least one reason why you’ve been uneasy with this friendship. It could have been that you hid your feelings, bit your tongue, or put others ahead of yourself, but it’s time to stand up for your own happiness.
We’ve all read enough articles, watched enough TV shows, and experienced enough real-life stuff to know that it’s best to chat things through and tell the truth. So rather than attempting to give your friend the silent treatment until the get the picture, explain your side of things and get ready to feel as if a weight has been lifted off your shoulders too.
So if you do have some so-called friends that have left you wondering why you were ever mates with them in the first place, now seems like the ideal time to purge your friend list. Keep those who matter the most within your closest circles, and spend less energy on those who don’t particularly deserve it.
We’ll gladly sing along to Spice Girls, but there’s no need to take the advice from Wannabe as gospel.