Faith & Encouragement | Finding Peace | Social Issues | Thoughts

5 Steps Toward Real Friendships

January 19, 2017

Alternatively titled:  What to do when you just don’t LIKE someone and you want to get on with your life.

Oh!? That’s never happened to you? You’ve always been a great, big, brilliant ball of sweetness and sunshine, adoring everyone?

Good for you, Pinocchio…

For the rest of us, this happens sometimes and, despite some very creative efforts to make ourselves more likable or a whole lot of effort spent on being the one to search out the “hidden treasure” within this other person, there we are.  On the other side of all that effort and a perceptible and distinct ruffling of feathers whenever That Person comes in the door.

Spoiler:  You don’t have to like everyone.  You just don’t have any excuses to be rude and unkind.

Maybe this happens when you’ve spent a lot of time trying to be friends and they just don’t reciprocate, to your frustration and disappointment.  Or, maybe it’s the interaction with their own family or other friends that will grate on you.   They are so bossy. Or they are master manipulators. Did you make assumptions about their character and intention because the words they used are the words that played havoc on your childhood and still bring with them the sting of rejection and fear?

There are people who seem to be instinctively aware of all of our soft, tender places and, often unintentionally, being in their presence feels like sharp sticks consistently stabbing at our unresolved conflicts.

It’s weird. I know, right?

Sometimes it’s the sum total of  little things and you wish you could walk right past it. Grow up, get over yourself… But… You just can’t.  There’s a red flag waving and you can’t seem to ignore it.

Their mannerisms are annoying – the way they talk to others or emphasize certain words. Maybe it’s in how much or how little they gesture. The sound of them eating. Maybe there are real concerns beyond the insanely petty.

Perhaps these are the people who refuse to take ownership of personal issues and, instead, consistently rely on everyone else to make up for their weaknesses. Maybe the struggle lies in the way they parent or how they “share” also often called complaining about everything. Everyone. All. The. Time.

Maybe they always having an excuse for… Everything.

Not all of these are deal breakers, to be frank. There are plenty of times we just need to breathe deep and extend grace with a big, fat, helping of Get Over Yourself.

But, sometimes?

Well, there needs to be a game plan for how to stare ourselves square in the issues and find a way to Get Over This Person.

If it were as simple as avoidance I think that would be my first choice. But often, most often, that isn’t the ticket.  Although not to honk my own horn, I am AMAZING at avoidance.

However, Life is rarely that simple.

What if these uniqe human beings are part of your work world, your faith community, extended family, your children’s community, your spouse’s friend or co-worker?  Notice I didn’t say, spouse or children.  We don’t get to check out with them.  It’s different.

Friends and acquaintances?  They are a their own critter.  They just are.  We need to live with the understanding that we can take a few steps away and gain some perspective.

How do you friend break up with the person who pushes all your buttons?

Now, in the words of former President Obama, let me be clear.  I’m not writing this to give us an excuse for rudeness or justify throwing away people who are more “complicated” than others because we are too lazy to work with someone willing to make every effort to become more than what they are.

When my kids push all my buttons, I don’t throw this list at them.  When my husband makes me want to gnash my teeth and search for Shakespearean insults, this is NOT my method of choice for resolution and a happy marriage.

This is about those folks in life that just, just, just create a perfect storm of crazy and exhausted wherever they go. 

Are you ready to let those relationships go? 

I’m so glad you are! Me too…

Here’s what I do with the individuals who have worked their way into a select group of people I call “Crazy Makers.”

  1. Take a step back from being in their physical and virtual presence.
    1. Hide them on social media. Quietly. Unfollowing, not unfriending.  No vague insinuations or announcments needed.  You are taking a vacation from their lives not creating more drama.
    2. You have permission to say NO to attending non-essential gatherings where they are present.  You are on a personal vacation.
    3. Keep your interactions to a minimum – You don’t have to say more than hello or stay in the break room while they loudly eat a banana.
  2. Let go of the emotional hold you’ve allowed them to have over you.
    1. This isn’t the person who yelled at you in the 4th grade – Their loud voice isn’t your problem and, really? It’s not their problem either.
    2. You can’t make them love you – If you have spent the better part of your life feeling unloved by people who matter, this acquaintance cannot fix all of your issues through their acceptance. Letting go of that expectation is dynamic and freeing.
  3. Take a long, hard, honest look at the benefits and costs of this relationship.
    1. What does this person ADD to your life/world/work place?
    2. What does this person COST you in time, emotional energy, mental gymnastics to not be seriously uncool yourself?
    3. Are there enough GOOD things to balance the BAD?
    4. Yes? = Figure it out. No? = #4
  4. Give yourself permission to leave it unresolved and not be friends.
    1. There are some mysteries requiring the light of eternity to unravel. This might be one of them.
    2. At some point, after high school, it becomes obvious we are NOT going to be friends with everyone. This is perfectly acceptable.
  5. Stop looking only at yourself and this situation. Choose to focus on the people in your life who bring out the best in you.
    1. Quit letting this Crazy Maker steal the spotlight and shine light instead on the friend who loves you.
    2. Tell the good friends how much they mean to you. Practice gratitude for the abundant blessings which often become mundane and every day.
    3. Fill your home, office, heart, and life with the uplifting, positive, kindnesses of the amazing group of people you have in your life and QUIT letting the actions of the one influence how you see yourself and this marvelous life you have been given.

There aren’t any money back guarantees and this is not a foolproof method, in case you were wondering.

However, I can share with you this. When I put these five little steps into practice I am much, much happier with the people closest to me.  There are some folks worth the hard work of dealing with issues and they are the ones willing to work just as hard as I am to figure our bad selves out.

Ultimately, breaking up with the people who push my buttons and don’t care much about my heart makes a much happier me.

  • Wait. I’m sipping from a cup I got from you and it says Crazy Maker on it. I thought that was from that party with those people when we . . . Oh. 😉 I agree. I always feel better when I just give up, and let crazy makers move on. I’m getting a lot better and not forcing people to like me. Sort of. You like me right? Good. BTW. Nate made coffee today from my favorite pot. Not sure how he did it, but all of the grounds were on top of the french press circle thing. Chewing my coffee as I type. I might need dental floss before I go to town.