Where are the Sunday school programs that teach human beings how to be decent to one another? When’s the class that shows people how to have friends they don’t take for granted? And if you find yourself surrounded by peers who don’t truly care about you, where’s the support group filled with everyone else who’s been thrown aside?
Friendship shouldn’t be difficult. It shouldn’t be an act of congress to get together. There shouldn’t be a set of conditions that must be filled before you can call someone up. Most importantly, it shouldn’t be one-sided.
Being the friend who would take a bullet for someone that barely spares them a second thought isn’t easy. You give and you give and you give; all the while, they’re taking everything you’ve got. You convince yourself that they love you the way you love them, even though they’ve never given you a real reason to believe it. It’s an endless cycle of give, take, and disappointment. But enough time goes by and you have to wake up.
The fact is, not everyone knows how to be a friend. Maybe, some people just aren’t capable. Whatever the reason, you don’t need to make excuses for them. You do, however, owe it to yourself to walk away. Surround yourself with people who are ready to give you everything you want to give them.
I highly doubt there’s a person alive who hasn’t been burned by a friend at one point or another. Friends can break your heart too. Sometimes, that heartbreak is almost worse.
But how do we stop it? Do we start teaching our kids how to be good friends? That sounds like common sense, but believe it or not, not all people teach their children to be considerate people. Do we teach our kids how to work through rocky patches in friendship?
Well, we are already great at filling young minds with delusions of guaranteed second chances and an endless supply of forgiveness. Or, do we teach our children how to walk away when their friendship is leaving them unsatisfied?
It is critical that people of all ages understand this age old concept. We choose our friends. If someone is not meeting the standards of friendship, it is okay to leave that relationship.
I’ve felt trapped in a friendship before. I’d been guided toward forgiving those who wronged me. Now, I’m not saying forgiveness is wrong (I, personally, think it’s the key to closure), but it’s incredibly important to differentiate between forgiveness and letting people take advantage of you.
At no point in time have I owed any of friends a single thing in this world, even if I had myself convinced I did.
Guess what? You don’t owe your friends either. Nowhere is there a contract requiring you to stay in a friendship where you are not treated as an equal or respected. Walking away from someone, for your own sake, does not make you a bad person. It makes you a strong one.
It’s been said that we change our friends every seven years.
If this is the case, then why do we praise friendships that have lasted longer and discredit newer friendships? And more importantly, why do we constantly reiterate that staying friends forever is what everyone should aspire to, regardless of how those involved are treated and feel?
We romanticize unhealthy, codependent relationships and it needs to stop. Those of us left in unsatisfying friendships deserve to free themselves without facing ridicule and judgement.
I can confidently say I know what it means to be a friend; just, not everyone does.