By Jordan Sapir
As a part of Spring Cleaning, it’s important to evaluate the relationships we have and the people who we are spending our precious free moments with. We all know how few and far in-between they have become.
With age and wisdom (try not to laugh) I’ve realised just how sacred friendships are and how important it has become to hold genuine valuable friendships, which can grow and mature with time. Holding on to relationships of the past can have a devastating outcome.
It’s important to learn how to share your love and be loved and respected in return.
I had a best friend a few years ago. We’d been through everything together — graduation from university, the party years, we lived together in our first apartment abroad, marriage, pregnancy and motherhood. It took over a decade in this disparaging relationship to realise that we were both wasting each other’s time. My last straw was when her husband suggested we needed therapy.
Should we hold on to friendships like old college tees or should we eventually just let go and move on?
After a long friendship with the aforementioned friend, I spent a lot of time (wasted) trying to figure out what happened. We had very different views on life, which was great until we had children. She was so annoyed, vocally so, that I reverted back to being a health nut, gave up caffeine, exercised, didn’t want to find out the sex of my baby, refused the European glass of red wine. All the things I saw as being a good mom, she saw as over-the-top and annoying. It didn’t take me long to realise that her feelings came from her own insecurities within herself. It wasn’t the things that I was doing that were making her angry, it was the things that she was not doing herself … all of which were out of my control. Instead of internalising her issues with herself, she was letting it out on me.
Now, when I evaluate my friendships in my newly highly time sensitive life, I think about one very important characteristic:
Is this person secure with themselves?
Of course we all have insecurities and many of us struggle with wanting the things we can’t have or being jealous, which with and in itself is only an inner struggle of not understanding why someone else gets something that we can’t have.
Here’s how I matured and realised that there are different types of friends, roles they play in your life, how to decipher the difference between a truly mutually beneficial relationship and a relationship of convenience.
The Longtime Friend: Someone who has been in your life since you can remember. You grew up on the same street or went to primary school together. They know who your first kiss was, where it was and how awful it was. They helped you pack to go off to college or abroad. They did a fairly good job keeping in touch and you don’t have to talk to each other for ages, but still maintain some sort of mutually beneficial relationship.
The Longtime Friend You Need to Keep: This friend not only has known you all your life, but understands the person whom you have become. Even if that is different from who they are. They don’t judge you on your past or say things like, “The person I know wouldn’t do something like that.” or my personal favorite “You’ve changed so much.” Of course I’ve changed, I got my training wheels and braces off and no longer eat Ramen noodles out of a styrofoam cup. People change and grow. If the people who you surround yourself with can’t understand that, maybe it’s time to move on.
The longtime friend you want to have around supports you and is by your side, even if that means waiting for you to find yourself and watching you make mistakes. The long-time friend, whom adds value to your life, doesn’t need to talk to you every day to remain friends and doesn’t judge you if you suddenly become a vegan or want to study Kung Fu in Qufu. They just support you and love you for who you were, who you’ve become and who you want to be. They love you for your values.
After spending 24 hours negotiating with your toddler over whether wearing pyjamas outside is appropriate attire and where to place and expose body parts, the last thing you want to do is be judged and ridiculed by someone whom you consider a friend.
Now, I have friends that I can just grab a coffee with, have a good laugh and go back to the heave hoe of my everyday life. No complicated discussions, non-judgmental, easy going friendships. I don’t know too much about you, you don’t know too much about me, but we’re working slowly on developing a relationship.
Then there are mommy friends. If our kids weren’t friends, we’d probably have nothing to do with each other, but since they are connected at the hip, we’re forced to spend every moment together. You’ve seen me lose my shit with my kid, the deplorable site of a 3-day old dirty kitchen and have probably had to wipe my kids butt at some point. Although you’re friends by default, you still seek advice from each other, can have a good laugh and help each other out every so often, fine by me.
Not all friendships in adulthood have to be so intense. Our guidelines to choosing friends has to fit into our new lives. We have to think about our families first and friends second. Some people who are currently in your life, may not realise that. Especially child-less friends. If your friends don’t understand who you’ve become since entering parenthood, then they may not be your friends. Friends should add value to your life and not stress you out. Friends should make you feel good about yourself and your life choices and not discourage you from following your dreams. Your friends should support you in your career and relationships. Your friends should symbolise the types of friends that you would deem acceptable for your children to be friends with. Friends don’t judge, mock or chastise you for wanting to be a better person. Whether that be your parenting style or your decision to be a stay at home mom. True friends can give you their opinion except that you see things differently, yet still support you on your path.
As adults, it’s okay to let go of friendships that are no longer fun, mutually beneficial and tumultuous.
I barely have time to do anything for myself. The one thing I want to make sure of is that I’m spending my time building relationships that matter. Relationships that are positive and relationships that grow with me and not against me.
So while you’re purging the excessive in your life, think about some emotional absolving. Are there people in my life who are making it more difficult instead of easy?
If that doesn’t work listen to a 2-year-old. I recently asked my daughter if she’s friends with a girl in her playgroup. Her response, “No mommy.” I asked, “Why not I thought you were friends?” “Frieda no share and push.”
Apparently, it’s a great deal more simplified for children.
If your friends don’t treat you the way you want to be treated, it is fair to say they are not your friends.