As part of my new school year resolutions, I’ve decided that I need to get better at friends – meeting them, encouraging friendships, and dealing with friendships that don’t work or are bad for me. We all have a few of those friendships that are terrible, hurt our self-esteem, linger too long and make us miserable. In my last blog post I mentioned an article from Ask Polly about breaking up with a crappy friend. (As a small sidebar, I’d like to mention how fantastic Polly is. I never thought that I’d have a favorite advice column because it feels like having a favorite astrologer or telephone psychic — you know, weird. People maybe would not think you respect yourself enough if you go around talking about how an advice columnist changed your life, but Polly’s advice is personal, very insightful for someone who isn’t a therapist, and most of all it makes sense. I can’t recommend her column enough. Sidebar over.) It really solidified for me that I have some bad friends habits, namely getting into friendships that are one-sided or just don’t work and that it’s time to cut them out.
On dealing with your bad friend, Polly says:
Is she a shitty person? Probably not! Maybe you remind her of someone from her family and she needs to work something out with that person, through you. She has just as much of a right to her issues as you do to yours. Issues are just deep, passionate desires covered in shame, dripped in extra shame, boxed up in shame, and tied up in a big shame bow. But once someone treats your issues like a big pile of unnecessary garbage, it’s hard to treat theirs with care, too. Two people with issues and baggage and subconscious confusion and shame in the mix need a lot of generosity and goodwill between them not to feel like they’re perched in the middle of an enormous garbage dump.
But you know what? Some people will welcome your garbage. You’ll knock on their door, feeling small, and they’ll welcome you in and they’ll make you tea and they’ll say, “Let’s go out back, where you can dump all that garbage onto the ground and we can sort through it together.” I know that sounds like a fantasy. But good, smart, patient friends who care a whole hell of a lot are not a fantasy. Be one to someone else, someone who deserves it, and you will find one or two or five or ten in return.
And if you feel sad, after you say good-bye to your bad friend, remember that it’s okay to continue to love something that’s gone, something that never worked to begin with, a broken thing. Endings are not always so neat. Our hearts crave old connections, even when we know they’re not good for us. It’s okay to feel melancholy over the loss of a close friend. It’s okay to not get over it immediately.
What’s not okay is asking for love, over and over again, from someone who can’t give it to you. No more going to the desert in search of a cherry Slurpee.
I asked my friend Sarah, who is a GREAT friend and has many great friends because of her greatness, how she has as many good friendships as she does.
All of my good friends are very similar to me. the two I’m really close with at school all have the same personality type as me. I confirmed it by making Meyers Briggs. It was bananas. literally the same. ENFP
Oddly enough I am also an ENFP, which neither of us knew before this conversation and I guess confirms our entire friendship.
She also said
One thing I’ve noticed is that I like people who are in tune with their social surroundings. People who are good at reading others and knowing when to say things when appropriate. It’s like….along the lines of having good EQ.
So these are two tricks from someone I consider to be a very considerate, thoughtful, and giving friend. I should also add that Sarah is great at sussing out BS in a person and great with drawing boundaries against unhealthy friendships. That is also half the battle when starting a new friendship.
So what are the things you look for in a friend and how do you find them? More importantly how do you make a clean-cut when deciding to end a friendship because I think it’s hard to be decisive.
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ALSO, should I start an Ask Polly fan page? Asking for real because my love is for real.