Let’s get this straight: people change. And as sad as it is, there’s not much you can do about that. What you can do is choose how you react to change. In the case of friendships, this can be especially difficult because on one hand you look at your friend and see all the great memories you’ve created together. But on the other hand, you may be looking at your friend and realize you’re looking at a person you don’t even recognize anymore. So what’s the next move? Do you talk to them and see if things can still be salvaged? Or do you slowly let them drift away and surround yourself with other people that can be there for you? The answer is never simple. Before deciding how to handle a friendship you’re worried about, please consider these red flags and remember that this decision should be entirely up to you.
1. They never (or put minimal) effort in your friendship
Nothing is worse than a one-sided friendship. It will only leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated, and disappointed. If you notice that your friend isn’t putting in the effort to be there for you, consider what stresses they may have in their life. Did your friend just start a new job she secretly finds overwhelming? Is that new guy she’s talking to filling up her schedule? Whatever it may be, try to put yourself in your friend’s shoes before talking to them about it. It’s one thing for life to be overwhelming for a time, but it’s another thing for patterns to emerge. If your friend is constantly unable to be there for you to hang out or can’t even be there for you emotionally, it might be time to reconsider what a friendship means to you.
2. They prioritize other people (or things) before you habitually
We all have that one friend whose boyfriend always has to tag along. Or that friend who always has to work or is simply “too busy”. However, there is a fine line between balancing time for everyone in your life and prioritizing some more than others. If you suspect that your friend is incessantly putting you last, try talking them about it. Odds are, they probably don’t even know how you feel! If you have a problem with a significant other or crammed schedule, try to come up with a detailed plan to make time for each other. People typically react well to honesty and they react even better when you’ve been proactive for the sake of spending time with them. If you’ve tried this and there is still no difference, remember that you’ve done your part to make things work! The ball is now in their court.
3. You’re constantly worrying about them
You shouldn’t have to compromise your own daily routine for the sake of theirs–especially if they can’t return the favor. It’s one thing to be there for a friend going through a rough patch, but it’s another thing to constantly feel like you have to worry and keep tabs on them. This could lead to frustration, exhaustion, and an even larger division within your friendship. If you’re concerned that your friend needs the help of a professional, try gently urging your friend to seek aid of a professional.
4. Things aren’t the same
Friendships without trust will always be rocky. If you find yourself uncomfortable at the thought of talking through any issues you have with your friend, discover that you’ve slowly been compromising your values and beliefs, or find yourself wondering where things went wrong–these are all clear signs that things are not the same. As I said earlier, how you choose to react to these red flags among others is entirely up to you. In the meantime, I suggest talking it out with your friend, being firm with your boundaries, going out to meet new people and have new experiences, and taking a break from any ounce of toxicity in your life.