Reassessing Friendships in the New Year

By Jessica Glynn, LMSW

Friendships can change drastically over time, making it important to assess these meaningful relationships and how they are affecting us. Especially, if you feel the friendship has been changing in a negative way. When friendships struggle from a disagreement, disappointment, or inconsideration, it can affect us deeply. Often, the reflections on our friendships come at a point of change in our lives. During a difficult time, can that friend be there for you equally to when all is going well? Alternatively, if you are experiencing new positive changes in your life, such as a progressive career change or a new romantic relationship, is that friend truly happy for you or does jealousy start to arise? Here are a couple concepts to consider when deciding if a friend in your life is deserving of your time and energy.

Reciprocity: Does your friend put similar effort into maintaining the relationship? If one person is always trying to make plans, and the other is not following through or canceling last minute, this can feel very hurtful. Typically, if a friend values your relationship, they will make time to keep the friendship going strong. All relationships require time and nurturing in order for them to be a positive support in our lives. If one person is consistently absent, then they cannot expect their friend to wait around for when they are ready to put forth sporadic effort. This also holds true for reciprocity in sharing vs. listening. Each person should be allowed the space to share and have the other listen with a supportive, understanding ear. If one person is always the sharer and one is always the listener, the listener may miss out on the support they need from that friendship and feel resentful.

Positive Support – Does your friend provide you with positive support and make you feel good about yourself? Often, when we've know someone for a long time, we start to feel comfortable joking around or poking fun at one another. When this light hearted, jovial banter becomes increasingly hurtful or negative, this may be someone who is trying to put you down rather than supporting you to feel proud and good about yourself. It is important to a healthy friendship that you can acknowledge these feelings with your friend and they respect you enough to alter this behavior. Whether friends are there to support you through a break up or there to celebrate with you over a great accomplishment, it is important that you feel your friends truly wants to see you happy

Trust - Are you able to tell your friend personal issues or feelings and know that they will be held in confidence? If you notice you and a particular friend’s conversation always seems to trend towards gossip, this may be a red flag to take into account. Not only could this be a sign of a jealous or competitive person, but could also leave you questioning what they are saying about you to others. Trust is an important component to a friendship that is a source of support in one’s life. If that trust is not there, you may as well be telling your personal secrets to any passe by willing to listen. A friend that you can confide in will be one that will hold your personal conversation as privileged, even when they are angry with you or you have a disagreement.

Jessica Glynn is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you find yourself seeking support with navigating friendships visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.