Friendships can add so much richness to our lives, helping us feel connected, heard and valued. When friendships are thriving, they feel easy. You feel revitalised after spending time with them and know at its core, the friendship is true.
This isn’t always the case, however. People change and in turn, so do our relationships. Sometimes we grow apart. Our friendships become a burden, something that causes stress, worry and uncertainty. When this happens, it is time to implement a little self-care.
This may look like setting boundaries on your energy and time or even saying goodbye to the friendship. Here we look at a few ways to ensure your needs are taken care of within a friendship.
Note how you feel after interacting with them
Do you feel refreshed, full of energy or in need of a big old nap? If a friend is quite demanding energy-wise and you seem to be spending more time listening/consoling than talking, it’s time to check in with your boundaries and whether or not you are being heard in the friendship (remember, friendship is a two-way street).
If you feel drained, set boundaries on your time
This includes text messaging. Being bombarded with messages all day every day is enough to make anyone retreat from a friendship. Allocate certain times to respond to them or ask to call/meet-up for a proper catch-up instead. If they seem to want to meet up a lot and you’re finding it difficult, again, set some boundaries and explain that sometimes you’re busy or have other plans.
Know when to step back and sign-post to professionals
If a friend is struggling with something, it’s understandable to want to support and help them. Of course, this is something as a friend you should do, but be mindful of when it stops being helpful. If you find you’re repeating yourself or are worried your friend needs further support, try and encourage them to seek advice from a professional – whether that be from a doctor, counsellor or life coach.
Make meetups more mindful
Instead of relying on Instagram stories or tweets to catch up with what your friend is up to, ensure you make time for more meaningful meetings. Meet up for dinner, a cup of coffee or go for a walk when you really want to catch up. Avoid distractions like the cinema or shopping if you’re keen to have a really good chat.
Ask some difficult questions
Are you benefitting from this friendship? Have you grown apart? How would you feel if you didn’t have this friend in your life? Sometimes we can become a little trapped in friendships because they’re ‘old friends’. Give yourself permission to grow and change – and if this friendship is no longer right for you, it’s OK to let it go.