Friendships are one of the most underrated kinds of relationships. I don’t mean this in the sense that they’re understated or less popular than other kinds of relationships. But they are undervalued. As much as people love having them, they forget they need to put in the actual effort to get them to work.
Because of this, there’s a tendency for a lot of friendships to fade or worse, end badly. Just think, how many friends have you made and lost throughout the years? Some friendships begin out of convenience or necessity — a seatmate in class, the neighbor you pass by every day — and they end as quickly as they begin. Others are made of stronger stuff, a genuine connection or shared trauma, but are still susceptible to breaking.
Usually, it’s because we forget to maintain these friendships that they end. That’s not always a bad thing, because not all friendships are worth keeping, either. But at the very least how a friendship turns out should be done out of a conscious decision. Maybe something we can do to this end is applying the KonMari method to our friendships. We can question if they still spark joy in our lives, and move forward from that point.
A caveat is that obviously, we’ll only be using this on our more problematic friendships. On friends who become toxic or too demanding, or on friends who start hurting you (directly or indirectly). This is for the friendships who end up draining you more than they’re worth.
The first thing we do is separate friends by category, just like Marie Kon suggests we do with our things. It’s up to you how many categories you end up with but some I suggest are work friends, college friends, high school friends, and industry friends. This is to outline which friends are more central to your life.
Then comes the fun part: do they spark joy? Any person we consider a friend is probably one because we recognize some value in them, whether they’re fun, or useful, or have a sentimental attachment. But that’s not always enough reason to keep a friendship going. If they don’t spark even a little genuine joy anymore, then your friendship probably isn’t worth it.
Of course, life is a little more complicated than just sparking joy. Something you can explore is what the friendship means to you and vice versa. If one person is asking too much or giving too little, then it’s necessary to reconcile how you value the relationship with how your friend values it.
Most importantly what you should ask yourself: Is it worth it? Regardless of where your relationship is at, or how it got there, is fixing it worth all the trouble? If the answer is yes, then all other externalities lose their relevance.
In the case that you’ve decided which friendships are worth fixing and which aren’t, all that’s left is to work it out. Oftentimes, all that requires is good communication. Talk to your friends when you have problems with them, vent out frustrations instead of letting them stew. It’s 2019 and we’re all old enough to start handling our friendships maturely.
What point does it become okay to let go of a friendship?