We’ve all had a moment that leads us to evaluate a relationship. Whether that was a time you were sick and your friend unexpectedly brought you soup, or when you were going through a rough time and a friend left you in the dust. It’s times like these that show us not only who we have been wasting energy on but who we are not giving enough of our time.

Here are some tips for knowing whether it is time to let go or time to hold on tighter:

  • Relationships should not be a one-way street. Do you find yourself always initiating contact? Are you the one constantly reaching out or checking in? If so, it may be time to consider if the energy you are devoting to that person is reciprocated. Easiest way to do this? Stop initiating contact. Wait for that person to reach out to you. If you don’t hear from them for weeks, you know where you stand.
              On the flip side, be conscious of yourself. Check your relationships and honestly evaluate if you are holding that response-only role. If you identify that you are a ‘responder’ ask yourself, “do I want to hold onto this relationship?”, “do I care about this person?”, “are they adding value to my life?” If the answer is yes, step your game up! It takes a few seconds to send a text.
  • It is rare that friends stick around for every stage of your life. Growing up, we think our BFF is really going to be our ‘bestie’ forever and ever. However, that is usually not the case. Don’t get me wrong, some people get lucky and are still close with their friends from third grade, but most of us do not share that experience and that is OK.
              As we age, we grow, learn, and develop. Our personalities, interests, and sense of humor change and differ from others as we move through life. You are not a bad person if you come to terms with this fact and let your childhood friends take a backseat. We have many modes of communication (social media, email, text, etc.) that allow you to keep in touch without using a ton of time and energy.
  • Friendship is not black and white. We are conditioned at a young age to think that someone is either our friend or they are not. I challenge you to break away from this idea and steer towards categorization. Whether you categorize by mode of communication (phone call worthy, text message worthy, Facebook-only, no contact) or on a scale (best friend, social circle, acquaintance, etc.) you shouldn’t have a yes/no communication strategy for maintaining relationships.
              Quality over quantity. If the majority of your relationships are in the gray area and only a few are in the white and black you are doing well. To put this bluntly, we are too busy to successfully maintain a large number of relationships in the best friend/phone call worthy category. Having a few high-quality friendships is not only easier to maintain but provides more value to our social lives.

  • Don’t feel guilty for letting go. You aren’t doing yourself a favor by straining to hold on to relationships; and you aren’t doing others a favor by barely holding on. Don’t be afraid to focus on who is important to you! Redirecting your energy to hold on to strong relationships will not only benefit you, but will benefit everyone involved.

You can be kind and gracious while implementing this friendship maintenance strategy. Maintaining your social group does not make you a bad person. If you cannot take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Redirecting your attention will help you to maintain a meaningful life.