Fri(end)s? – The 8 Main Reasons Why Good Friendships Fail
I’ll be there for you cause you’re there for me too
Back in 1994, a little unknown sitcom called Friends aired on our screens for the very first time.
Soon, the amazing characters became our own friends, as we let them into our lives and they allowed us to frequently share in their joys and pain, as all good friends do…
Then in 2004, the sad but inevitable happened. The sitcom, after ten years, finally came to an end and aired its final episode.
We had to say goodbye to the adventures of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey, as they went on to the next phases of their lives. It was a sad time for all, especially saying goodbye to such close friends but in the end, it was for the best.
Many of us have recovered and moved on, as we generally do in life.
Onwards and upwards, isn’t that what they say?
Does it always have to finish with the end?
The whole thing got me thinking, if you were to ask most people, one of their biggest fears would be a long term friendship coming to an end, yet ironically it’s right there, staring most of us in the face, like one big cosmic joke.
But why are many of us still so bad with dealing with it and why is it never spoken about, like it’s one big taboo?
We have support networks for loss of relationships, family, jobs and even children, yet many of us are poorly equipped to deal with losing a good mate. Which is why a lot of us take it so hardly when it occurs.
So I thought I would take you through my stance on it all, and hopefully ease the pain of a leading character in your life, taking their final bow.
Exit, Stage Left
If this hasn’t happened to you yet that, you are either super young or super fortunate but for the majority of us, it is a reality we’ve all come by at least a few times in our lives.
It is the losing of…..well not losing, losing makes it sound as if there has been a loss of life or something major. It is the re-categorization of friends. Not just any friend though, those you would categorise as groomsmen or bridesmaid material. Those who could easily fit into that Best Friend category.
Now that I think about it, it doesn’t seem so harsh now to use the term ‘losing’. I remember discussing this subject with a colleague and she said her best friend had confided, if they permanently fell out, she would go into deep depression and may not be able to recover. Their loss of friendship would be on a similar scale to the bereavement of a relative and on a number of levels, it would be even worse.
I think many people could find losing a good friend under any circumstance just as depressing.
Understanding the effect such a loss can have on people, I’m putting together a series of posts that will cover.
- The main reasons why we do it,
- When we should/shouldn’t do it
- How to feel if we think it’s happening to us.
Hopefully whenever you reach this point with a person, you’ll be more informed about the decisions you make.
Right, on with Part 1.
The Main reasons why Good Friendships Fail
Sometimes it’s a conscious decision, most of the time, it’s life operating all on its own. However what are the main criteria that determines whether you should let go of someone who you’ve treated like a brother/sister your entire life?
For me it goes like this
1.Life gets in the way
Regardless of what many people say, a lot of good friendships are based around entertainment. You tend to want to stick around people who are good company . Unfortunately though, life doesn’t always present you with the opportunity to be fun.
Boring shit gets in the way
I remember one example of this with a friend I had at University, who wasn’t studying at the time. They just didn’t understand that at certain parts of the year, I had to knuckle down and revise so couldn’t go out and party.
I had essentially turned into the longest commercial break ever and he was waiting for the main show to start up again but it never came quick enough for him.
So we eventually ended up hanging around people who were more likely to cater to our own needs and limitations. In the end, he got tired of asking and we ended up drifting apart completely.
This is one of the reasons why alot of people start spending considerably more time socialising with their work colleagues than their older fiends, just because they are always around and already fit into their lives.
For most people the people you see 50% of the time will (in time) become closer friends than the people you don’t 100% of the time. It’s just the way it works.
2. You are in different stages in life
This is a real tough one because we all grow at different rates and it is almost impossible for two people to grow at exactly the same speed and time. Saying that, life cycles tend to happen in 5-7 year stints. typically you have stages like
- Young adult
- First time working
- First time living alone
- Serious dating
- Home purchase
- Middle aged
Depending on which one you are in, will determine your general interests and what occupies your mind. Even though people don’t grow at the same rate, good friends tend to meet up at similar phases and work through life at a similar pace.
Now if for some reason one friend stays behind while the other goes ahead, things will generally stay fine as long as there is just a single phase between them. However once this gap opens up to two/three phases, it usually spells disaster as the two individuals just can’t relate to the other’s day to day drama and it’s best to just wish them well while you carry on.
That doesn’t mean neither doesn’t want the best for each other, it just means neither chooses to focus their time and effort on each other.
You also see this happening in people’s mid life crises, where they struggle to hang onto their youth while their peers plough forward. Soon both sides become un relatable and fracture opens up between them that continues to grow year after year.
3. An imbalance in the (support) dynamic in the relationship
This is an interesting one. A good friendship I find, is one that is based on equality and honesty. Both parties enter into the venture willingly and in truth wish to gain nothing from it apart from the company of the other.
Sometimes the equal friendship can turn into a surrogate parent/child dynamic where one individual ends up either emotionally or financially looking after the other. I have a few examples of this below.
3.1 One-Way Crisis Management.
It’s 2am in the morning and you have that important interview tomorrow. your phone rings and you guessed it, it’s your friend who is going through another episode of crazy trauma. Do you let it ring or do you pick it up? It doesn’t matter because before you know it, it’s 7am and you’re still rattling on the phone.
To be honest shit like this is what being good friends is all about but if this privilege is frequently abused, it can put a strain on even the best relationships. Further more, when you find out your interview was unsuccessful, their phones are off and there are no where to be seen.
You then start to notice when you ever do catch up, the conversations always seem to revolve around them. You even throw in the odd cancer scare comment to see if they bite but nope, their drama always trumps yours. Always, always always.
Instead of reaching for knife, you just stop reaching for the phone in the early hours and both you and your friendship start drifting away.
3.2 Withdrawing and foregoing payment from the Bank of Best Friend
Money is a real hard one to manage, I’ve seen friendships go array for as little as 50 bucks.
I would say this, never part with money unless you don’t mind ever seeing it again.
You should treat it like a charitable donation and if it is likely to cause friction between you and your friends, don’t do it. Also notice that in most circumstances, the money you provide won’t solve their financial problems, rather just get them in another sticky mess down the line and prolong their dilemma.
Also remember fundamentally, if they don’t get it from you, they will get it from someone else, don’t play to the tune of
‘You’re my only Hope ‘
Remember Obi-wan Kenobi fell for this shit and ended up dead, he didn’t pick up no fucking medal in the end, didn’t even get an honourable mention. Then that bitch just found some other Bums to continually bail her out of trouble. Some friend Leia is…. SMH
If you continue along this path, soon you’re role as a friend will change to just being the bank roller. Now a significant part of your interaction is based around being asked for money while simultaneously being avoided for months in order to dodge giving it back.
If you are on the borrowing side of this, you should consider borrowing off a formal lending institution (or family) rather than from your chums. You end up putting your friends in a strange position where they feel pressured into helping and bad for asking for the cash back. In the end their friendship becomes secondary to the financial crisis you are in and let’s be honest, most of the time it doesn’t solve it, it just opens up the door for more and more money to be asked for.
The breaking point usually comes in the form of one party either saying they won’t pay that cash back or the other party saying they won’t provide any more cash.
It’s at this point both parties decide to split the bill.
3. 3 Private Chauffeur
Money isn’t the only example of this, you find this also happens in other circumstances involving pretty much any material item. A good example of this is where say someone has a car and the other friend doesn’t. The token shotgun passenger is constantly in contact with said friend just to get regular lifts everywhere.
You know giving friends lifts is a right of passage when you first get a car but then some people take this too far, either trying to make you the designated driver all the time, or worse, their very own private taxi service. I’ve seen friends break up because one automatically expected the other to pick them up from the airport when arriving back from their holidays (without even asking).
Again, this can go the other way, with great car comes great responsibility. Who ever has the wheels has the biggest say and if they wanna cock block you on a night out, there is nothing you can do about it. Holding your vehicle as a trump card to win any argument while on a night out is not only unfair, it’s a lil cruel.
What do you think Optimus Prime would say to that?
3.4 One way Resource provider
Then you have the friends who always seem to turn up when you have food, alcohol, drugs etc but as soon as you are out of supplies, you never seem to hear from them. One way resource relationships I think is what you call them.
Don’t get me wrong, the taking isn’t the worse part of this. The worse part is when you try to interact with them but there’s nothing in it for them, the dynamic always turns into a parent/child one with the child being scolded but they are generally uninterested and feel they’ve done no wrong and both parties become little bit more vindictive towards one another.
I just think some people always end up taking their friends for granted and when you end up being utilised for what you have rather than who you are, it leaves you felling a tiny bit hollow.
In this situation, both parties are just living on borrowed time.
4. Distance/Geographical location and technology
When good friends move apart, we start off with good intentions and will meet up a few times a year, which will go down to once a year than once every few years etc.
This phenomena on its own is bad enough but now we have the added facet of technology making the whole thing twice as Bad.
Social media sites like facebook are advertised as being capable of bringing people closer together. Hmm, not quite. While they can reunite long lost friends, when you’re not being advertised too or being inundated with cat videos, all they do is it make it a million times easier to stalk people on the outside of your core friend periphery and garner a false opinion on their lifestyles.
The problem happens when you start subconsciously treating your core friends in the same manner. Because most people put their important updates on there, any mild curiosity in catching up with someone is piqued by simply checking their pages. Facebook has also remedied this unnecessarily proactive behaviour (it’s 2016 for the love of GOD) by having their updates turn up on your feed, so now you don’t have to stop watching those cat videos to catch up.
It’s this nonchalant behaviour to people and conditioned indifference which means you are more likely to let a true friendship slip because you’re tricked into thinking you’re both still connected when infact neither of you have any clude about what’s going on in each other’s lives.
They should rename their website Falsebook, I think it’s more fitting.
5 Lack of reciprocation
This beauty falls under Newton’s third law of social gravity..
I do something for you, you do something for me.
Even if it doesn’t end up being of the same magnitude overall, the relative effort should be the same. If you are not capable of reciprocating, then you should at the very least acknowledge the gesture and be grateful right?
A lot of people think friendship is a two way street. It really isn’t. I think if you are friends with a person, it’s because you want them in your life and shouldn’t be because of what you can get out of them.
Think of it similar to a Doctor/Patient relationship. Monetaery renumeration aside, Doctors help their patients simply because they are able to. They wouldn’t withhold treatment if they felt their patient wasn’t able to reciprocate in their time of need. When you look at it like that, you realise how nonsensical this entire standpoint is when applied to friendships.
So if you do a good deed for a friend, it should be because you wanted to help them out. It definitely shouldn’t be a be an underhand act you want quantified/acknowledged, and definitely not one you demand reciprocation for in the future.
I mention this because recently, an old friend of mine from school has started distancing himself from his housemates because he’s fed up of doing all these things for them and having it ‘thrown back in his face’.
This is something I see a lot, especially for people who are friends with addicts etc, they all seem to have that sobering moment of,
‘I did this and gave up that to help, then they just stab me in the back’
Well there are three points to that.
- Firstly, no one forced you to help, you did it because you wanted to.
- Secondly, You can’t make someone feel bad for helping them out in the past. That’s just tough titties.
- Lastly and most importantly, friendships are never equal.
Most people will find this concept hard to grasp, mostly due to our social conditioning. This brainwashing suggests friends have equal equity investments in their relationship and therefore should put an equal amount of resources into making it work.
In reality, this is far from the truth but this is the cause of many good friendships going array.
Just because you are a good friend to someone,
Don’t expect them to be a good friend to you.
I would also say don’t use acts of kindness as equity to value your stake in a friendship.
In theory, it shouldn’t change how you feel towards someone if you thinks they may be taking advantage but I guess many people get affected if it keeps happening.
In any case, this change in dynamic is a textbook example of how one starts to distant themselves from someone else. It’s also one of the hardest ones to repair.
6 An perceived act of betrayal leading to future loss of trust
Getting to the top of someone’s friend list takes some serious time and when you get there, it’s not an accolade to be taken lightly.
People often share their deepest and darkest thoughts with you and reveal things they’ve never told another living soul…ever… You’re also their first point of call, when times are hard. As reward these friends would plunge into the depths of hell to get you out if they had to.
Such is the bond between two great friends.
So what happens when a friend betrays this trust? For example, they either use information you’ve told them against you or they’ve taken advantage of a situation you’ve been in? Further examples of this are listed below but we’ve all had this happen to us, shouldn’t be hard to find some common ground on this one.
- Telling lies about you
- Turns your family/friends and family against you
- Taking advantage of you
- Sleeping with your partner/sibling/parent/child
- Steals money out of your account
- Getting you fired from your job
- Gets you into trouble
- Putting family/friends/kids in danger
It’s a mighty fucking blow and for some reason, we STILL haven’t be taught to deal with this kinda betrayal. There is no support system in place to tell us,
‘Hey, you are just as likely to be screwed over by you’re closest friends as by stranger, BUT it’s gonna hurt more because you’ll be blind sided by it.”
Everyone is human and everyone is likely to let you down at some point, just as you are likely to let other people down too. I don’t think we should automatically cast nets over certain people in our friends network and state
‘These people are more noble than anyone else’
It’s bullshit, we’re all fallible.
All this does in the long run is make you colder and colder as our friend circles gets smaller and harder to move into. Ironically, that just puts unnecessary pressure on the few who remain till BAM, once again, someone else betrays your trust and history repeats itself.
Multiply this across a few billion people and you can very quickly understand why the world is in its current shitty state.
Now I know for a lot of people, close friends don’t get any second chances at this, it’s a ONE strike, and you’re out kinda affair.
I think that decision should depend on three things
- The severity of the situation
- The perception of the level of betrayal
- Your expectations of said individual.
I’ll just briefly touch on the expectations side of things because this is usually the deciding factor on whether the friendship remains or not.
While alot of people would like to think the people they consider their best friends also view them in the same magnitude, this isn’t usually the case.
However, it’s this false perception we use in judging their behaviour. Usually this boils down to, if we were put in said situation, would we have acted differently?.
Most of the time, our righteous hypothetical answers are YES, which is why You often hear the statement
‘I would never do that to you’
The problem still comes down to trying to interpret someone else’s actions based on your own value systems, while coming to the realisation that you’re not as important to them as you once thought (when instead you should be trying to understand the situation from theirs).
It’s a rare thing to see a relationship come back from this breakdown in perspective. Personally, I’ve never seen one fully recover. These scars run deep..
7 Change in Opinion (could be related to the above)
This is a real big thing and I’ve seen it cause major wedges between people. The latent reveal of true opposing opinions can often come at unexpected times, causing a huge shock to people on the receiving end. They usually come in the form of an overall disapproval of at least one significant aspect of another individual’s lifestyle choices…
- Disapproval of someone’s partner or lifestyle
- Economic choices
- Political stances
- Diet choices (Meat, vegetarian, Pescatarian, Vegan)
- Dress style
- Tidiness (i know people who have stopped visitng friends because of the state of their homes)
- Religious choices
While this may feel like a betrayal on some levels, I’ve kept this one separate because there’s not necessarily an act associated with it, it’s just an opinion and sometimes that’s enough to cause the wedge. In many cases the thoughts can be considered much worse than any associated acts. Kinda like if you’re partner admits they wanted to cheat on you but didn’t, that still counts as a fuckery in many people’s books.
Speaking of partners, what do they say when you start dating?
Never talk about religion or politics and Pokémon preferences
The same general rule applies when you tend to meet people as kids, albeit it was just a natural thing rather than being contrived.
For a lot of children, they surround themselves with people who share the same views/hobbies as themselves. You find that their close friends think similarly to them. People do this because they are insecure about the world around them and prefer to surround themselves with those they share the same views with, suggesting their views must be correct because there’s strength in numbers.
As the individuals within the group grow older, they gain new insights into life and exposure to different facets which evolve their views on certain subjects. However in order to not rock the boat, they regress to the group like mentality whenever they meet up with their old friends.
If they no longer agree with the group mentality, this causes a slow simmering bubble of tension to build up until it comes to a breaking point. That’s when all hell breaks loose.
An example of this may be two female friends where one has a child and the other one doesn’t. After leaving a child in the care of the friend, the mother realises that her child was disciplined for something that she didn’t agree with. After an initial confrontation, the Pandora’s box is opened and it turns out the babysitter thinks the mother and child needs Jesus in their life because it’s born out of wedlock and is considered sinful…
Revelations outta the blue like this is akin to seeing your parents in a porno, you just can’t wipe that image from your mind and it mentally scars you for life.
But why does this happen to hit us so hard in the face?
The main reason I think is that your closest friends over time end up lying to you the most to keep said friendship going. However there comes a point where the lie comes in direct conflict with how they view themselves and in that moment, they would rather protect their EGO rather than the friendship.
It’s far easier to put someone else’s lifestyles under the bus than to look at yourself in the mirror.
Still Rivers and all….
8 Knock Knock, Who’s there?, No one Mofo
(Effort to Maintain relationship)
This is another circumstance that happens unfortunately but it’s best to talk through it rather than try to explain it
So you find this fantastic event and think your best friend would like to come but when you enquire, they are unfortunately busy and can’t make it. So they decline and you both say next time. But the next time something comes up, there is another reason to decline from the same person. Worst off it could be for the same reason.
And so on and so forth.
You feel like you are being rejected and in order to remove the feeling of being less important, you start to do one of two things.
- You will stop asking your friend to events
- You’ll start asking people to things who are more than likely to say yes.
With time, you’ll start to associating these new individuals with having a good time and stop asking your old friend to come and join you, thinking the answer will stay as a NO.
We’re still simple creatures and we aren’t developed to deal with rejection of any kind. Many of us would simply choose to avoid a situation like that happening again rather than take a steel toed punt of rejection to the groin
So in order to feel less rejection, you still start assuming your friend is always busy and will stop asking them out.
Then finally your friend ends up with some time on their hands and is now waiting for the call of the next adventure but their phone never rings. The tide has already gone.
Both you and your friend now see each other out on social media and make their assumptions the status quo is the preferred option and thus the fracture between you both is complete. Now you feel even more rejected and purposely decline seeing your friend, even if you are free, out of pride.
I think this is what most people describe as drama.
So What Happens Next?
Fuck, reviewing some of these topics, makes you wonder how anyone ever ends up staying friends for more than five minutes.
So now that I’ve covered the main reasons why friendships fall apart, you have an important decision to make.
- Do you want to rebuild the friendship?
- Do you want think it’s time you both moved your own separate ways?
- Do you wanna go to bed after reading this volume of the Bible?
I’ll give your eyes some time to rest, hopefully you can come back for Part 2 of this post where I can answer these queries.
If you have any other examples to go with my main ones, feel free to add them. If you think I have missed anything major do holla but note this.
If you like this and would fancy some more interesting insight into friend relationships, please feel free to check the posts below