When I talk to people about personal relationships, their minds automatically drift to the romantic.
Maybe it’s because we are full of expectations about how our ideal mate will be. We (hopefully) hold new candidates to those high standards, truly investing only in the most prime of prospects who have earned our trust and respect.
We don’t get into a relationship with everyone we date. We don’t date everyone we meet. And when the chemistry isn’t there, the values don’t line up, or when we can no longer stand to negotiate what to watch on Netflix, we find a way to say goodbye and move on to the next.
Why don’t we adopt some of these same practices for the people we befriend? Why do so many young people neglect to protect their hearts and their sanity from the other kind of personal relationship — friendships — when they can cause just as much heartache or damage?
I think more people should apply the rules of dating to their friendships. We shouldn’t accept behavior from a friend that would warrant a swift breakup with a significant other. For me, I’d never continue to date someone who continually ditched on our plans, but I know I’ve held on to friends who left me hanging more times than I can count.
Fortunately we aren’t limited to just one friendship, but we have to stop treating the majority of people like they are a good enough match to enter the inner circle of our lives. When it’s just not working out, we need a way to let go and move on.
The real problem here is that there is no protocol for ending a non-romantic relationship. There seem to be two wholly inadequate options: burn your bridges, or just phase them out. Instead of risking the drama of either of those, I know I have given away way too many second (and third, and fourth, and hundredth) chances over the years.
But in order to live the life we want, we have to be brave and let go of the things that don’t help us rise to happiness, success and peace. It’s a lesson I’ve learned countless times in my romantic life, and I am more than guilty of avoiding the lesson with my friends. But is it really that different? I’d like to argue that it isn’t.
As I toughen up and continue the process of turning into the person I want to be, I know that doling out a million second chances isn’t the smartest way to protect my heart or the investment I want to make in all of my personal relationships. Maybe it’s time to stop casually dating the friends that just aren’t right for us.