Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to change other people? This is true even in loving relationships, where both people have an incentive to listen and respond to their partner’s needs.
It is especially true for our friends and acquaintances who, while they may care for us, are mostly interested in getting the most from their own lives.
Most of the time, these small differences are inconsequential. You could even argue that surrounding yourself with people who are just like you is limiting. After all, talking with people whose perspectives differ from our own is one way to expand our own perspective and become a better person.
Healthy debate aside, from time to time, we find ourselves being friends with someone whose values are so different from our own that our happiness starts to suffer. Is there anyone in your life who makes you unhappy? Do you have a “friend” who criticizes you unfairly or otherwise damages your self-esteem? Do you know someone who is making ethical decisions that are completely at odds with your own moral code?
If so, it may be time to stop trying to change them and, instead, look for a new friend.
I know this sounds harsh. After all, we are taught to believe that “good friends stick together.” We feel sad – even guilty – when a relationship ends. At the same time, each and every one of us has the right to be surrounded by people that make us happy.
There are so many wonderful people in the world – people who share your values, character traits and interests. If your life is filled with negative people, you will never have room for the friends and acquaintances that you deserve.
Romantic relationships aside, letting go of a friend who makes you unhappy doesn’t have to be dramatic or emotional. You don’t need to confront them or make a scene. You don’t need to justify yourself to them or anyone else.
All you need to do is start focusing on the people who make you happy. If you are always busy when your old friend calls, they will soon fade from your life.
If you feel like you have room for more friends, use services like Sixty and Me to look for like-minded people. Making friends as an adult requires us to reach outside of our comfort zone. Unlike other times in your life, making friends won’t happen “organically.” You may need to take a few emotional risks, but, in the end, they will pay off.
Have you ever let a friend go who was no longer right for you? Please join the conversation.
How do you know when a friendship is no longer productive? What do you think are the keys to making friends as an adult? Why do you think that we hold on to negative people, even when we know that they aren’t right for us? Please join the conversation.