The other day I checked my phone and found a message from a friend waiting for me. And soon more messages appeared. They were all some variation of my friend's frustration and disappointment in me not responding to a Facebook invite she had created just two days before.
My internet had gone out prior to her invite so I never knew about it. I could not get on Facebook or any other website for several days. When I explained this to my friend she relented. But I began to have doubts about whether-or-not our friendship was healthy.
Why would a friend think that I was purposely avoiding her, especially after we had already agreed via phone to attend the exact event she decided to create a Facebook page about? Something didn't add up.
The first thing I did was check if there was something I might have done to cause the confusion. But after speaking to a mentor about the issue it was clear that the problem was not with me.
My friend and I did go to the event and had a good time but I still felt uneasy. Trust had been broken. My friend was doubting me friendship and care for her. Why?
Any relationship in life takes time to build. Friendships are a very special blend of trust, respect, and wisdom. When any of these three elements are missing, friendships can become sour. How far things sour depends on how well both sides of a friendship can recognize the issue and resolve it with kindness.
But what happens if a friend simply doesn't see the problem? What happens if a friend becomes too needy and reliant upon you for emotional stability?
It can be that a friend is now envious of your accomplishments or opportunities. It could be a friend is not willing to look at their personal issues of low self-esteem. It could be that a friend is not turning to the Lord as their source of fulfillment. Or perhaps you are at a new stage of life and your friend is not comfortable with the changes happening in you.
I think its important to recognize that friends are not meant to be 24 hour personal counselors. If a friend is constantly dumping all their drama and frustration on you, then its time to seriously consider stepping away from the relationship for a bit.
Friends who become nags, easily offended, or "clingy" are all signs of trouble in a friendship.
The difficult thing is to know whether-or-not the friendship is salvageable or even if you should maintain it.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- If I continue my friendship with so-and-so would she continue to act this way?
- Do I feel encouraged or drained after spending time with this friend?
- Am I hesitant when I see a text or email message waiting for me from this friend?
- Is this friend happy to listen to me or is it always about her life issues?
- Have I failed to set up boundaries in this friendship and can I still do so?
Returning to my story, my friend and I talked about the incident. I learned that she was having major troubles with her family, in particular with her mother, and felt stressed and unappreciated.
I reassured my friend that I would not abuse her the way her mother did. But I also realized that I now had to be more mindful of my actions toward this friend. I don't mind being someone others can lean on from time-to-time. But I also see the potential for her neediness to grow and for me to feel drained.
We both have friends who run in the same circles so it was to our advantage to talk things out. And I made a point of stating that good friends exercise mercy and forgiveness. I also stressed that its okay and healthy for us to have other friendships too, which I do.
A new set of boundaries have to be put up so that we can both enjoy each other's company, encourage each other, and yet respect our individual time and emotions. Part of that is letting my friend know when I am and am not available to chat.
- Having a phone does not mean that I will always be able to message her.
- Just because I have internet access does not mean I will be checking Facebook every day.
- If I am unavailable once-in-a-while to communicate it does not mean I am angry or rejecting her.
Might there be some boundaries you need to look at with a friend? Could you be part of the problem? If your friend is needy is there something you can do to encourage them to pursue a healthy friendship?
May the Lord encourage you and lead you in your friendships!
" Wounds from a sincere friend is better than many
kisses from an enemy."
~ Proverbs 27:6