While the country still seems to be in the grip of winter, the inevitable truth is that spring is approaching. And that can only mean one thing: spring cleaning! Though the tiny hoarder that lives inside all of us might be screaming in defiance at those two words, we know that some kind of outing-with-the-old must occur in order to make space for all the new that the season will usher in. So, as much as it might pain you, prepare yourself to say goodbye to that favorite blouse of yours. Sure, it’s seen you through some of your more memorable times, and it fits you like a second glove, but it forgot your birthday and always texts you back at least a week later and never asks about how your life is going… Wait? Did we say blouse? Our mistake. We actually meant to say friend.
We’ve all had that friend at some point or another in our lives. Some of us might even have that friend in our lives right now. You know the kind we’re talking about. The kind where you secretly feel more dread than excitement when you picture hanging out with her. The kind that, after you’ve spent time with her, has you seriously pondering why you’re even friends in the first place. In the spirit of the upcoming season, take a hard look at your friends and acquaintances and consider letting go those ones who no longer fulfill the definition of “friend.” Having a hard time deciding if someone should get the axe? If you notice any of these in your life, get to choppin’:
Unless you’re a supermodel with an A-list stylist at your beck and call, you’ve probably committed a fashion faux pas or five in the past. If she catches you at the right moment, a good friend will pull you to the side and gently make you see the error of your ways before the damage to your sartorial reputation is done. Keyword: gently. If you have a friend who’s constantly nitpicking at your appearance, or the people you surround yourself with, or the things you like to do, and you think that this is completely unwarranted, you need to sit your friend down. Ask to see her law degree and her gavel because, unless her name is Judy and she presides over a courtroom, she’s got no right to judge you. Bailiff, please take this bad friend into custody.
One important aspect of a healthy friendship, in our opinion, is flexibility. Life is unpredictable and you never know when a storm might hit, so you shouldn’t mind taking a rain check for dinner or drinks every once in a while. But if your friend is constantly backing out of plans last-minute, or is late to said plans, or doesn’t show up at all, and the only explanation she deigns to give you is “Sorry! Something came up!”… ditch the umbrella (and your friend) and focus on the people in your life who can make plans with you and actually keep them.
While there are two kinds of mooches in the world, both suck equally. The first kind is the physical mooch: she’s always leaving her wallet in her other purse, or conveniently forgets that it’s her turn to spring for drinks. You cover her (like a good friend, of course), but you never get paid back and it happens again. The second is the emotional mooch. Like a bad cellphone, she drains your inner battery by constantly talking about her problems and her life, and you rarely get a word in besides “yeah” and “oh man, that’s horrible.” Unless you have pockets deeper than the Marianas Trench and a doctorate in therapy, you’re going to find yourself destitute at the hands of this friend real soon.
The Negative Nancy
Sometimes life sucks. Nothing seems to be going right. You lost that promotion. You found out your significant other has been barking up a new tree. You hate the world, and it seems to hate you right back. In times like these, you can count on friends to sympathize with you, and even wallow with you in your despair. A good friend will indulge you for a bit, and then help you drag yourself out of it. A bad friend will egg you on, and then she’ll drag you down into her own pit of misery simply because she wants someone to suffer along with her. We all have our rough patches, but no one in their right mind chooses to stay in them forever. If you have a friend that makes Eeyore look like a ray of sunshine on Prozac, it’s time to ditch that raincloud because, honestly, who needs more negativity in their lives?
One of the harsher realities of life is that nothing stays the same (as much as we wish it would sometimes). This is where the aforementioned flexibility plays an important part. So your co-worker-turned-bestie just got transferred to a job in a different city. That doesn’t mean your friendship has to wither because you won’t see each other as much. It just means it has to evolve. Things like distance or busier schedules or other relationships can put a stress on friendships, but solid ones will be able to withstand that pressure and grow from it. However, if your friend can’t remember to acknowledge the important moments in your life, like your birthday or a graduation or a parent’s death, or doesn’t respond to your texts for weeks, and never picks up the phone when you call… you might need to consider the idea that your friend has checked out of your friendship. Maybe it’s time you do the same.