Sorry! I can’t be the friend you need.

How many times have you said that? Zero? Yup! Thought so!

Actually we have a tendency to befriend people too quickly and too easily. There is no readiness testing for a simple friendship . There isn’t much thought that goes into how compatible the two of us are. There isn’t really a “dating” period. There is just an overwhelming rush to be friends as soon as someone so much as laughs at our joke or has the same taste in clothes as us or watched the same movie as us last night or has the same pandora list of songs.

And honestly, it would be so much nicer if this was all that friendship required of us. If friendship was all about cracking jokes, discussing men or women, matching outfits, sharing earphones it would be so much easier. It would almost be the easiest relationship. If friendship was just that.

But sometimes things take a different turn.

Our friend could go through a break up and we might have to be there for them and listen to all the sad reminiscing of their previous love life.

Our friend could lose a parent and meet a financial crisis and we might have to scan the internet and the daily newspaper for available jobs. May even have to go door to door to look for a job for them. We may not be able to go to our favorite places together now.

Our friend could fail miserably at a test that we aced at and we might have to forget our success and lament their failure with them.

Our friend could pick up smoking and wouldn’t listen to us.

Our friend could become depressed for no apparent reason and we may have no idea how to help them.

Or simply, the most conceivable yet the most avoided scenario: WE MAY BE OVER OUR FRIEND.

How many of us can conscientiously analyze if any of the above or a variety of other situations become true for us?

Can we identify our role in a situation like this? Can we acknowledge that we may not be the best person to give advice? Can we realize that sometimes people need to be left alone? Can we also may be recognize that we cannot get sucked into our friend’s problems so much that we become resentful of our friendship? Can we also, without a bias, accept our shift of loyalties in a friendship and that we are simply not capable of remaining friends with a particular person any longer?

Friendship has been described over ages as something that is as pure as silk woven by the best of worms. When actually, even the best of friends have every reason to go in opposite directions if any uncertain situation arises. They don’t have to stick it out. They don’t have to see it through to the end. They can bow out at any point and say “sorry! I can’t be the friend you need”.

And sometimes, just like that, of its own volition and accord, a friendship can fizzle out. I think we are embarrassed to acknowledge this scenario the most because we feel this is a dishonesty to our relationship.

Sometimes it’s important to know when we are not contributing or may be negatively contributing to a friendship. Just because friends don’t have any definitive way of saying good-bye doesn’t mean that we leave one friend hanging. Accept that it’s natural to feel like your work with this friend is done. That there isn’t much in this relationship that stimulates you, excites you or interests you. It’s important that in order to have a good friendship and good memories that we make an exit when our own need for something more from a friend is bigger than our need to remain a friend. When we take the courage and the time to explain to our friend how this friendship is coming to a clinical end, we are doing ourselves and them a favor. We’re making room for someone else, likely a more willing person, by vacating a spot. We’re being considerate by being open.

Not returning our friend’s phone calls, hanging out with another set of people, trying to actively avoid our friend makes it difficult for them to move on. Like any relationship in life, when we’ve moved on from a friendship, let our partner know. That’s the only decent thing to do.

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