You arrange to go out.
An excuse is made or they do not turn up. On MULTIPLE occasions.
No one picks up. You leave a message. Nothing.
You email, WhatsApp, text etc.
In fact, the silence is deafening. It resounds in your head more than the bells rung at Notre Dame.
The question is has this weird ‘music’ been playing a while?
If so, have you been:
- in blissful self-denial?
- trying to convince yourself that it’s not in your friend’s nature to give you the brush-off?
- or hoping that the friendship would eventually resolve itself?
There comes a time when you have to admit the truth. You cannot escape it any longer.
Cold. Hard. Facts.
The friendship is over.
This can be very traumatic for the system. It can feel like a death of sorts. Those you thought would be life-long friends have deserted you and you need time to admit it to yourself and start the grieving process. Now, sometimes this could be through no fault of your own. Other times you might be to blame. And other times it might be both of you. As they say it takes both hands to clap, and two to tango.
Either way, from personal experience, here are some signs to recognise when the death-knell should be ringing on your friendship:
1. One friend becomes patronising towards the other
Maybe it is a sign of growing up, but it is a pity what circumstances can change people. Unfortunately a rise in job, career or education can diminish the once pleasant characteristics of a person. They follow their dreams whilst perceiving you with derision for daring to pursue your own. The language they use in their period of elevation is condescending and you don’t have to try hard to read the gleeful gloating in having the upper-hand underneath.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with celebrating your achievements – they should be applauded! – but to constantly put the other person down as a result is worrying. If this condescension is now being so brazenly displayed, think: was your friendship a healthy one to begin with? Did one friend harbour deep-seated feelings of jealousy towards the other? Condescension reeks of insecurity. A real friend would genuinely want to see you rise and progress, not try to stamp all over you.
2. They are not interested in anything you have to say
Arguably one of the most shocking signs. Upon opening up to those about negative experiences I had suffered in the past, some ‘friends’ didn’t even bother to listen, ignored it, or just kept talking about themselves. They were heart-breaking ‘Wow!’ moments for me. I have less of these now, since I am discerning genuine friends from fake ones, but it can make you feel outraged. Should a topic of conversation always be on someone else’s terms or only about them? Friendships should work both ways.
3. They don’t contact you or do so weeks later (constantly)
Does it feel like you are doing all the work? You are the one always trying to communicate and greeted by stony silence? Or if you’re perhaps lucky you might receive a reply weeks or months later? Sure, they might have a genuine reason for their delayed or non-action but if this constantly continues, then unfortunately the other person does not respect you and doesn’t consider you a true friend. Break off with the contact (you are not desperate!) and move on. You are too amazing to be regulated to someone’s afterthought.
4. They constantly ignore your birthday
This speaks volumes, especially if you have told them over and over again when it is. When the day arrives, you hope that you receive a text, email or phone call or message (not asking for a present), yet you receive nothing. This happens year after year, particularly when you always acknowledge theirs. It can hurt all the more if you (or used to) live together. Don’t wait a decade hoping for things to change, wishing for a sign that they care, like I stupidly did in the past (a decade!). Unfortunately you might die before this ever happens.
5. They drop you like a hat as soon as something better comes along
This scenario can come without warning. Your friend doesn’t want anything to do with you and convey this through words, actions and body language (or by just disappearing!) yet they skulk back to you when things go wrong. You are the ‘default’ friend, a backup, someone to retreat to after their exploits have failed and they need time to lick their wounds and try the whole process again, at your expense.
6. You have to buy their company
The only way your friend will go out with you and grace you with their presence, is if you take them out, wining and dining them in restaurants, entertaining them in the clubs, pubs, cinema etc.
All at your expense.
This is hardly reciprocated, despite having a good job and money. If left to them they will be happy to burn a hole in your bank balance quicker than lighting a match to it. Since they don’t like to put their hands in their own pocket, you think that they would opt to do something fun, free or at little cost (like going to the park) or going for a coffee, but this annoys them just as much as you having the audacity to ask them to stump up the cash next time. They are supposed to be your friend, not your escort – don’t let them treat you as such.
7. They never liked you in the first place
Do you ever get the feeling that someone is tolerating you rather than likes you? You have something that you can offer them at a later date and it is obvious that they are just biding their time. You catch them giving you ‘the evils’, talking behind your back, and trying to sabotage your chances of success. For some reason unbeknownst to you, they are jealous of something they think you have and want it themselves. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Break this toxic relationship completely.
Sever every single thread.
If you know where this person is coming from, then you can’t be surprised if they stab you in the back. In fact, they can’t because they have been advancing towards you and brandishing the knife in your face!
You must end toxic friendships so that you can allow new ones to enter and bloom in your life. It may seem difficult now but the mourning process will lessen as the days go by and you will emerge wiser and healthier for it. Don’t let a few bad experiences stop you from forming friendships. Friends nourish the soul and can even have a stronger bond than family if you find the right ones. Expand your circles, socialise more, engage in a new hobby. There are so many nice people in the world if you are only willing to look.
Finally, to those who recognise these signs in themselves? Admit to yourself what you have done, so that you can try to change. You have to be willing to transform for yourself rather than anybody else. Don’t let these traits cost you the loss of a true friend. They are a rare breed and hard to come by. Indifference is a hard place to push someone who cared for you to, and an equally hard place to return from. Apologise and let your actions amplify your words. Those of us who have been hurt from this in the past tend to listen with our eyes more than our ears. Take it from there.
You are not meant to be alone.