You still feel the sting from losing that friend, the one you really liked, maybe even loved, until they let you down. Whether they disappeared or you cut them out of your life, all you know is they weren’t there for you when you needed them. Good riddance! Well, maybe, maybe not. Prepare yourself for an extremely touchy suggestion. Maybe what was good to be rid of was you.
A good friend will keep you from falling into the abyss. But, what if you’re determined to jump, and they’re afraid you’re going to pull them down with you? Should a friend really have to prove their loyalty by risking their own welfare to be there for you, when you’re determined to not be there for yourself? Was this a case of being dumped by a fair weather friend, or did they flee for shelter from your disaster-prone life?
Fair weather friends are defined as people who are only around when things are convenient or pleasant for them, but when a crisis develops, or they have to go out of their way for you, they always have some excuse for not being there. This person lets you down. At least, that’s how you see it. And sometimes, probably most of the time, you’re right. Then, again….
What if the problem is not that they’re a fair weather friend, but that you’re a storm chaser? If you’ve been involved with someone long enough to consider them a real friend, not just casual, and you begin to feel they’re starting to let you down more and more, until one day they really let you down at some critical moment, is it possible they’re not letting you down so much as escaping the riptide pull of your self-inflicted wounds? Did they really leave you in a time of need, or flee to save themselves?
Maybe you lost a friend, because you drained them of all they had to give, or cornered them into doing something that was against their nature or a risk to their well-being. Was there something about their friendship you valued, but then you kept taking from them more and more? You borrow a nice outfit, a nail gun, their car, a few hundred bucks, because they have it and you need it and that’s what friends are for, yes? You call at 2:00 in the morning to cry on their shoulder, again, text 20 times a day, or can’t have a single conversation without venting anger, anxiety, or despair, because you got dumped, quit your job, gambled your rent money, or just think the world is out to get you. Maybe your friend did oblige, in the beginning, and oblige and oblige, yet your temporary situation never seemed to get any better.
You’re still hurt, because you know all that you would have done for them if they were in your shoes. But, are you sure they’d ever allow themselves to be in your shoes? Scores of good people living steady, responsible lives have had their own interests harmed by trying to help out a friend. Perhaps you didn’t get what you think you needed, because your friend has better sense than you and was trying to help break your pattern of self-destructive behavior? Does that make them less of a friend, because they won’t abandon their good sense to indulge you?
Maybe your friend was there for you, but you were so absorbed in your need, you couldn’t see it. If you’re a friend, you accept that a friend can give only what they have to give, not necessarily what you need them to give. To expect more from them than who and what they are is to set them up to fail you. It’s not their job or responsibility to fix you or fix your life, so why do you get to judge them if they don’t deliver on what you want?
If you find yourself losing friends, maybe you need to be alone to learn how to be a friend to yourself, first. Perhaps what you need more than a friend right now is the chance to step back, self-soothe, and revisit who you are and how you handle your troubles. Are you too exhausting? Are you disaster prone? Do you lean so heavy on your friends they can’t breathe? Is the only way you can feel loved or important is when someone is rescuing you? Are you lashing out at a friend, because they didn’t do for you what you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do for yourself?
Sort out from your relationships those friends who are too needy, too exhausting, too demanding, too emotional, too draining, expect too much from others—and make sure the one who really needs to be removed from the mix isn’t you. Don’t be so quick to trash a friend who didn’t meet your expectations, either. Consider if what really needs to be trashed is your search for a human crutch, and, once you’re sure you can walk on your own, maybe that lost “fair weather” friendship can be recycled into something more authentic the second time around.