Hello, yet another segment from Clever Dudette on the topic of “Marriage and Life“. I think that when we talk about cleaning out our closets and donating things, and discuss the topic of personal finance, we also need to talk about personal/emotional finance. And one of the topics I would like to address is that topic of cleaning out our emotional closets.
None of us like to compare our friendships to finances and debt, but in reality they are that: Friendships are an insurance policy. You put time and effort into them, and sometimes you see that you’ve lost money ( i.e., have been disappointed) and sometimes you can see the great rewards of this friendship (when times are good and you feel close to them). We all go through those periods where we might be the “bad” friend.
But, every once in a while you need to take stock and find out if that friend is really worth it. As Mike can attest to, I RARELY say the final goodbye to a friend–I’m usually the one who’s left going “what happened to that friendship?!?” I have three friendships-gone-bad over the years that I just can’t figure out what happened or where things went wrong. But for the most part, even though I might not feel like I get much out of the friendship, I still stick with it and devote my time and energy into it (and may complain about it to my closest friends in the meantime). But, these close friends and Mike have been challenging to me to look at those friendships more closely to determine whether they’re hurting or helping.
Points to consider when taking stock of your friendships
- How long have you been friends with them? How much have you weathered with them? One of my closest friends has been with me about 1/2 of my life. She’s like a sister to me. There was a period where we both drifted apart to grow up, and although I wondered “what happened”, I weathered through it, we communicated about the problems, and now we’re really close again. She’s worth the stock that I’ve put into that friendship.
- Look at the ratio of time and effort you’ve put into the friendship versus gotten out of it. Granted, many people go through a depression of sorts and they need you more than you need them during those periods. So, friendships aren’t always 50/50 (in fact, I think that they should be 100/100 as in marriage). But if you are always the one who makes the effort of calling them, going to visit them, sending them things/doing things for them, and you get nothing in return, you should ask yourself if it’s really worth it. This is a question that I have been asking myself a lot lately: I have a friend in which I am always asking her to do things with me, I bring her food, etc, I call her, but I rarely get anything back. I therefore feel unappreciated and ask myself often if it’s really worth it. There’s a difference between being selfish and being taken advantage of.
- Do you make the effort? Sometimes it’s you who’s the “not-so-good” friend. Are you always bailing out on them? Are you only a friend to them when it’s convenient to you? Do you call them often, try to make time to see them? Find things to do with them that makes them happy?
- Are they trustworthy? Are YOU trustworthy? Does your friend say one thing and do another or are they pretty true to their word? Examine their motives and yours.
- What is the purpose of the friendship? If your friend is only there for advice on cars, finance, and you’ve tried to “go deeper” and talk about more stuff and they’ve disappointed you, just keep it on the level of friendship that they are comfortable with and find other people to fulfill the other needs you have.
- How do they make you feel? (I know, guys, this one is hard). I’m not asking whether they always agree with you (because it is important to have someone to give you a different opinion on a topic). Do they make you feel better about yourself or are they always criticizing you and putting you down? If you are married, how are they towards your significant other? No one wants a friend who trashes those you love. Do they challenge you to be a better person?
- When you talk to them, is it like no time has passed since the last time you talked with them? I have several dear friends who are like this–we may go through periods of not talking for a couple of months, but when we talk again, it’s like no time has passed and we’re chatting like we just saw each other. Keep these friends. Trust me on that one.
Once you have examined that friendship, now what?
- Examine how you’ve been with that friend. Maybe you’ve been a bad friend or you have disappointed them in some way. If you believe in God, pray about it and ask for His guidance in the situation.
- Talk to your friend. Tell them how you’ve been feeling, or schedule some time with them to do something that both of you like to do (play racquetball, go for a run, go shopping).
- If they aren’t willing to talk to you or don’t have time for you, forgive them (silently), forgive yourself, and give them space. True friends will come back to you. In the meantime, enjoy the extra time you have that you’re no longer devoting to that person!
When I look at my friendships over the years, I realize that I haven’t always been the best friend and person to those around me. But, it’s all in the effort. The first step to any change is recognizing that a change needs to be made. Never think that a friendship was useless–we all learn from each other.
So, good luck examining those friendships and getting rid of those emotional debts!
Photo Courtesy of [Haley7]