Are you a draining friend?
Clutch your pearls, and grab a glass of wine. Because mamas, we are about to dive into something a teensy bit uncomfortable!
Mom life is more than a notion. Aside from our endless duty cycle, we juggle so many relationships: our significant others, kids, families, in-laws…and our friends. Hold that thought. Can we go back to friends for a second? Because this is the taboo subject I want to focus on in my friendship series. Adult friendships are hard and complex. When something goes wrong, we tend to say things like, “It’s not me, its you.” Doesn’t it feel good to say it out loud? It’s such an easy, yet lazy assessment of what is wrong in our friendship. We just blurt it out, sit back, relax, and wait for them to fix whatever it is they have going on. But, the real translation is: “I don’t feel like identifying or acknowledging my own shortcomings (if I even have any, because I’m actually fantastic), so let’s just focus on yours, ‘mkay?”
Worry about Yourself!
When friendships start to deteriorate, many of us are guilty of looking at the other person as the sole problem. If fact, we could probably deliver an entire laundry list on what they need to change about themselves. Let’s be honest, most of us have Ph.D.s and various terminal degrees in Other People’s Issues. We can expertly and flawlessly serve up a dissertation on how they need to fix themselves, complete with bullet points and alphabetical outlines. And we’ll get the friendship back on track when they are done. Stop me when I’m lying…
But take a step back for a second. Could the problem be… you? Are YOU the one draining the life out of the friendship? It’s time we switch the focus from looking at others, and turn towards ourselves. In most cases WE are half the problem, if not more (okay, some of us are the entire problem, but I digress!) Now, now, don’t fret. What if I told you that being the problem is actually good news? Think about it. We can’t change the other person. You will go gray waiting a year, decade, or century for them to come around. But we have complete and absolute power over our own self-improvement. So congratulations! You, yes YOU, my dear, already have what you need to turn your friendship around!
- Have you recently developed friendship anxiety?
- Are you currently experiencing bouts of jealousy-fatigue?
- Do you have elevated levels of friendship-pistivity (aka, you’re always mad)?
If you have any of the above, consult your inner doctor, because YOU may be the flu your friendship needs to kick.
Symptoms that YOU may be the problem!
- Are territorial. Simply put, sharing sucks! Toys, food, friends. You feel some kind of way when your ace-boon-coon spends time with other people outside of you or has a new friend. It hurts to imagine your precious BFF gravitating towards someone else, or a new person coming along to knock you off of your bestie throne.
- Keep score. You keep mental tallies and can call a score better than any NFL referee. Flag on the play! Oh, honey, your score-chart is so comprehensive, you can confirm who said what, when, on which day, whether it was raining, and which earrings you were wearing when it was said! Yep, I know my fellow scorekeepers well! In fact, I have my laminated score-chart in my purse now!
- Are “tit for tat.” You sit back, watch, and deliver match-for-match blows. Forget matching, you are the master of one-upping! I mean, who wants to be outdone?
- Over-analyze. You find yourself trying to connect random dots, take virtual fingerprints, and read between lines that don’t exist. “What was she really trying to say? Because if you refer to Exhibit D…” Yes, women make the best detectives. But sometimes we take it too far!
- Overreact. If you find yourself quick-to-anger or often apologizing, this may be you. Do you quickly type angry messages without sitting back to consider how it will be received? Do you get impulsive with your clap-backs, but then wish you could take it back?
Have I hit a nerve yet? Girlfriend, you are weighing your friendship down! But once again, I have good news for you! There is power in self-awareness. Acknowledging our shortcomings are half the battle, and now it’s time to act.
Want your friendship to blossom? Treatments to be a better friend:
- Be confident. Turn jealously into confidence and know you are irreplaceable. Your security is a respected virtue and allows your friend to be a free spirit.
- Relax. Ditch the scores because you don’t need them! True friendships don’t have tallies because they are inherently imperfect anyway. Let your friend be right sometimes. Who cares? In fact, I’ll go ahead and pull my score-chart out of my purse and trash it along with yours! We can do this!
- Let it go. You don’t need to get even or one-up the person you love. If your friend does something you don’t like, either gracefully tell them or let it go. That’s real love.
- Be easy. Don’t over-analyze and pick at them. Going through all that mental data doesn’t stress anyone out except YOU! Instead, use the time to plan a fun friend outing. It will go so much further.
- Pour a glass of wine. Just because. I mean, it pretty much fixes all life’s problems anyway! But seriously, if you feel yourself getting angry, do something else. Binge on Netflix. Grab your glass and escape. Don’t be tempted to angrily clap back or jump to conclusions you’ll feel bad about later. Sleep on it and approach it with a clear head in the morning.
Role model healthy friendships for the kids
Friendships should not stress us out or drain the other person. Sure, your friend has to work on their issues too, as I know it takes two. But this isn’t about them, we are focusing on US today. We have learn how to be better friends to those we love. In addition, we must teach our children how to have healthy friendships as well. But we can’t preach to them what we aren’t living ourselves. I challenge you today. Take a step back, consult your inner doctor, and treat yourself to a better you!
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