What Are the Signs Of An Ending Friendship?

What is happening?

After several months of no talking, friends Naomi and Marla share mutual trepidation towards rekindling their once close connection. Their distance feels like a hole impossible to refill. Can they salvage this relationship?

Even friendships have expiration dates. Friendships can shut down with a sudden door slam or fizzle out quietly over time. We may not realize we have outgrown a friendship until a special scenario shows up to test its long-term staying power.

Changing the lens.

Releasing negative energy and returning to a neutral place is Naomi's priority. What buttons are pushing her? Identifying triggers helps us make informed choices. (more on choices)

Past influences inform the present.

Naomi reflects on her history. She recalls the sting of a long ago withered friendship. Her former friend often demanded center stage. She sashayed to others her material possessions. She sought superficial importance and admiring glances. At first Naomi felt charmed by her friend's stream of compliments, but it couldn't sustain their genuine connection. The loss was unsettling; it took Naomi years to reclaim her individual power (co-dependency), and move forward.

Commitments may change over time.

It’s tricky. One day we can’t imagine living without our friends - the next day we ignore incoming calls and dread a pre-arranged lunch date. Let's write down the names of three friends to whom we today feel committed. Are our commitment levels for each the same or different?

Naomi doesn't have many ties to her past. Marla feels like a comfy old chair - supportive and easy. Maybe it isn’t a good idea to reminisce about bygone days, Naomi tells herself. Maybe it’s important to spend time with friends who are more involved in activities I'm interested in and accept my current lifestyle.

Guilt and resentment block growth.

Ideally, friends bring smiles to our face, light to the heart and connection to spirit. We look forward to being in our friends' presence, and become inspired by their values and beliefs. When resentments or other negative emotions dominate our thoughts and feelings, we can no longer see a friendship through a clear lens. It’s necessary to shake negative energies loose. (more about guilt and stress)

Naomi pictures herself being run through the ultimate futuristic car wash. This car wash cleans up and resets body, mind and spirit. After the car wash reset, Naomi sits across from Marla. She sees her friend as a spiritual being - struggling just like her - to deal with life in an ego-driven world. Naomi reaches out to hold Marla’s hands, a gesture meant to convey an offering of Peace, Love and Joy. From this place, Naomi gathers insight on how to move forward (with or without Marla), and proceed with compassion.

Friendships contain doses of harmony and togetherness.

One-sided friendships are off-balance. Little fun. They lack emotional backbone, and often result in a situation where one person feels drained and alone. Friendships requires give and take. If you are consistently doing something for your friend and the friend is not reciprocating in kind, your friend is (deliberately or not) exploiting you. A fine line exists between carrying someone (burden) and caring for someone (selfless). It's often difficult to distinguish what's really going on ... who is carrying what.

Room to Heal and Grow

Resetting boundaries

Even if one person doesn’t see the relationship as one-sided, the other person may perceive it thus and feel uncomfortable. Once it feels off-balance to either friend, the relationship feels off. Clear signals of friendship boundary troubles are ongoing stress and judgment. Naomi analyzes her boundary crossings list between them. (more about boundaries) This is how they look:

I don’t assert myself in the friendship because I fear another Marla meltdown. I take a backseat.

Marla likes to tell friends absolutely everything going on in her life. She goes on and on. This feels overwhelming to me and way beyond necessary.

Codependency hurts our friendship. There are times when I am too sucked into her drama. I lose myself. I need to separate and prioritize my own emotional state and well-being.

Starting over or evolving?

Without warning, friendships naturally drift in different directions. People’s lives change and grow. It’s possible and predictable that people naturally grow apart.

Naomi’s willingness to reach out to Marla is key. Is she sincerely interested in what Marla’s been up to? Does she want to ask Marla to do something fun to determine if a mutual spark is still there?

Naomi’s perspective is evolving from hurt to acceptance. Now that the intensity of emotional and mental triggers has subsided, she becomes aware she is okay regardless of the outcome.

Grieving

Another way of healing and growing is to go through a phase of sadness. Naomi may never know or understand why Marla feels jealous of her. Despite her broken heart, she is tired of reviewing their scenario and dwelling in an indecision pit. Even if Marla did explain herself, the reason given may wholly or partially lack truth. Apologies don’t always make things better either. In the course of apologizing, we may unknowingly re-open wounds we didn’t even know existed for the other person, and thus pay a high price for our willingness to lay our souls bare.

Clearing the air and moving forward

Naomi’s coach asks her to write a letter to herself in this way: Imagine you are Marla. Write a letter from Marla to yourself. Using Marla’s voice and tone, describe her side of the story. At the end of the letter, Marla writes these words to Naomi, “I forgive you. Although we can no longer be friends, I release you from guilt and suffering. I wish you a peaceful life from this moment forward. Goodbye dear Naomi” Naomi signs the letter in Marla’s name.

Naomi senses her future life without Marla will be changed, but perhaps even better. She reflects with coach:

”I move forward daily. I embrace friends who are not threatened or jealous of me. I pray this heartache will pass with grace and ease. My healing and release of this old story is imminent because I embrace myself as strong and brave.”