When we have friends we say, “I have X in my life.” It’s an interesting phrase. We often assume friends will be in our life forever. Oddly enough, we don’t expect the same from a spouse. Marriages break up, dissolve, or suffer from “irreconcilable differences,” but we expect friendships to go on forever.
They don’t. Sometimes we become friends over a specific project, problem, or event. We work closely together. The glue that holds us together is the work we share. Long hours of work, and we share personal stories. It’s a friendship. Then the project or event is over or the problem is solved. The bond is gone. The friendship drifts. And that’s fine. Friendships aren’t necessarily meant to last forever, and when they do, it’s a wonderful thing. When they don’t, there are great memories and shared skills and accomplishments.
Friendships at work can also be difficult. People to whom we’ve told our darkest fears and shared our dysfunctional family stories with are suddenly no longer our co-workers, they are the boss. Or the needy friend is suddenly a direct report.
It takes a strong heart and mind to know when a friendship is working. It takes a lot of spine to end a friendship that is draining you dry and not supporting your dreams and ideas. A friendship is a balance. That means sometimes you won’t be on the receiving end, but if you are never on the receiving end, then you may want to re-evaluate the relationship. Which is no longer a friendship.
It’s hard to reconsider, and it’s easy to claim loyalty as a part of friendship, but a real friendship is a bond that is stretchable, not brittle. It floats, it doesn’t hold either party down. And it grows and changes as both of you grow and change.
Walking away is a hard road, but sometimes it’s necessary to your health, soul, and heart.
–-Quinn McDonald is deeply happy that her friends put up with her.