We all have friends who drive us a little crazy. Their inability to commit to plans is unmatched, their addiction to rap music could make ears bleed, and their aversion to fast food makes road trips far too healthy. But some part of us finds their quirks endearing (that’s what you guys think about me, right?), and if not endearing, the benefits of being their friend far outweigh occasionally pulling our hair out.
And then there are the friends who don’t just drive us crazy, they make us crazy. Sometimes we wish that public displays of frustration were socially acceptable so we could shake, maybe even slap, some sense into them. The only thing we can count on them to do is disappoint, and more time is spent banging our heads against the wall because of them than actually enjoying time with them. We chase their friendship and we aren’t really sure why. In general, we’d say they’re just a bad friend.
What I’ve been wondering lately, though, is whether or not there really is any such thing as a “bad” friend. If we’ve had to label them as such, are they really a friend at all? Probably not. At least not the close friend we wanted them to be. And that’s a hard pill to swallow.
When we label someone a friend, we project a certain set of expectations on them, whatever expectations coincide with our personal definition of friendship. And when someone consistently can’t meet our expectations it hurts, its frustrating, and strangely enough, sometimes it makes us try harder. For whatever reason, we’ve decided we are friends, should continue to be friends, and we’re going to make it work.
But despite what we’ve been through together or how close we used to be, sometimes we just have to face the facts. Our friendship has run its course, at least for now, we have grown apart, and circumstances have changed. They may truly have all the makings of a good friend, but they no longer have the makings of a good friend for us.
Sucker punch to the gut.
Its a hard reality to face, and its not easy to accept. But while it might not feel right, it really is ok. When we change our expectations of someone from what we hoped they could give us to what they actually can, we’re no longer disappointed and our emotional energies are restored. Instead of viewing them through a foggy lens of unmet expectations fueled by a label they don’t fit, we can extend the courtesy of seeing them for who they really are.
This doesn’t mean that we need to find a bridge and buy some matches. We don’t need to mail them a letter with their name crossed off our list. Its not that black and white. We might still see them at parties, text them a funny article on occasion, “like” their Facebook posts, and never stop caring about them. We might even still refer to them as friend. But amidst all of that, we can stop expecting more from them than they can offer, and free ourselves from the emotional drain.
So let’s stop investing our energies in what makes us crazy, and instead wipe our brows, put down the square peg, and accept that it can’t be forced into the round hole.