4 signs Friendship Has Gone Wrong (and What to Do Next)
Relationships are the human form of economic systems at work. While we may not be consciously aware of the rules of the exchange system, sometimes we may feel we come up on the short end of the rewards of a friendship or romance. When this happens, it’s important to honor our insight and, if needed, take action. We may need to restore the balance to a relationship that's no longer working, or cut loose and let go.
Here are 4 signs that a relationship is out of balance:
1. You feel worse after spending time with a person, rather than better.
Friendships and romance may not always run smoothly—in the best of relationships you are comfortable enough to "be yourself"—but when bad feelings consistently outweigh the good, it may be time to revise your relationship investment strategy.
2. You find yourself wanting to ignore texts, emails, and calls from a person you previously jumped to answer.
When you begin to feel that you are too busy, too tired—or too happy—to respond to a person's requests for your time and interest, ask yourself if this is a pattern in the relationship or something going on in your own life. If it's really you, maybe you need to alert the friend about what's going on for you in your life. If it's them, maybe you need to be more up front or let your silence indicate your level of interest in continuing the relationship as it stands. And if it's the relationship, maybe you need to check in with this person and see if the feelings are mutual. Chronically out-of-balance relationships require the input and effort of two people to continue.
3. You regret the things you do when you're in this person's company.
When you're with a particular friend, do you gossip too much? Drink too much? Spend too much? Make decisions that you regret later? If you are losing self-respect or self-direction in a relationship, it's a sign that you are giving too much, and allowing the other person to expect too much.
4. You find yourself asking, "How did I end up in this relationship?" or, "Why do I let this go on?"
These are signs that you are keeping a balance sheet in your head and you are recognizing that the relationship is taking more energy than it should.
Know your Value
Reflect on your level of self-respect and the resources you have to offer. We all have the choice to set our boundaries and communicate our limits. What are the gifts that you are bringing to the relationship: Emotional support? Energy? Time? Loyalty? Faithfulness? A willingness to provide favors and instrumental support when needed? When you add it all up, do you still believe the relationship is worth the investment?
If you are making choices about what you will invest in the future, acknowledge where you are over the limit in your behaviors and cut back on giving that is taxing, not sustaining you. If it is really the other guy who is encouraging or guilting you into doing more than you feel comfortable with, then it is time for a "friendship detox" or "friendship cleanse."
Here are three questions to ask yourself if you are on the fence about a relationship. If any of them raise red flags, dig a little deeper and see if you are ready for a relationship cleanse:
What am I getting from this relationship?
What is the emotional debt I feel I am owed, but am not seeing fulfilled?
What is the toll that this relationship inequity is taking on me personally?
Only you can decide the next steps. Weigh your decision carefully.