A friend and I had an interesting talk on the topic of friendship recently and she brought up two really great questions that i’m sure we’ve also asked ourselves at some point in our lives. First she asked: how do you keep yourself from feeling used by others – especially when it comes to friends. She then followed the question with: when you do feel used, what should you do about it? Should you value the friend for who he/ she is or end the friendship?
Let’s delve into the second question first, shall we? A friendship, like any other relationships, takes two people to make it work but unfortunately there are many cases where we find that only one person in the friendship exerts the necessary effort, time and attention to maintain the friendship which leads to that particular person to feel used. With that said, since it is common for friends to ask favors and for help amongst each other, some may look at the situation as deals amongst friends. They believe that in a friendship, that particular person they call a friend are obliged to help and do not see a friendship as a give and take relationship.
In any types of relationships, communication is key to a successful friendship. Personally, i’ve been in a situation where I felt “used” by close friends and whilst it is difficult to muster up the courage to “confront” them directly, I found that talking about the issue head on is the most effective way of sorting it out. Coming into the discussion, it is crucial and in your best interest to view the talk as a positive discussion rather than as an attack. Be sure to be kind and give your friend an ample opportunity to verbalize their side of the story. The talk should be a conversation – not a monologue, it’s important that both sides are heard. Keep in mind that it is certainly OK to hope that the talk will alleviate the issue and in turn make your friendship stronger than ever because it some cases, it certainly does happen. However, prior to having the talk, we need to come to terms of the possibility that your friend may not see things the way you do. It may end up with the fact that he/ she is so strongly set in his/her ways that they flat out refuse to see your point of view and/ or make any effort to change the situation.
When the latter occurs, should you accept your friend for he/ she is? or should you move on? The answer really depends on you. Should you decide to come to terms with your friend’s shortcomings, you need to truly accept that it is likely that there will be more disappointments in the horizons. Old habits die hard they say and truth is, however much we want and hope for them to change, unless they themselves decide to change and take action, the situation will reoccur in the future. If you are willing to keep this friend, you must accept this consequence.
However, should you decide it’s time to end the friendship, accept that it could be just as if not more painful than ending a romantic relationship. Do remind yourself that however painful that it may be for a while, you are looking out for your best interest. Remind yourself that in order to lead your best life and become the best version of you, you need to surround yourself with people who value your friendship. Those who believe in you and will be there for you. For me, that is the simple answer to my friend’s first question. The best way to prevent oneself from feeling used is to surround ourselves with people who are just as invested to the friendship as much as you cherish their friendship.
This type is dilemma is certainly no easy feat to go through but the good news is that it helps you to realize who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore and who always will. When you find those who matters and who always will, be sure that you treasure them and let them know that you appreciate having them in your life because they are truly rare and priceless.