Just like relationships, not all friendships are made to last forever. A close group of friends is essential, and everyone falls out now and again, but what should you do when things start to sour? We spoke with leading life coach and Daily Express columnist Carole Ann Rice for her advice...
Let’s go back to basics – what are the signs of a healthy friendship?
It may seem obvious but in a healthy friendship, you genuinely enjoy being with that person and look forward to seeing them; they make you feel good, add something positive to your life, understand you and are interested in you. A good friend has your welfare at heart, will always be there for you and recognises if you’re having a hard time.
What are the warning signs a relationship may have become unhealthy?
If you find your friend is starting to take you for granted more frequently, becomes unappreciative of your kind gestures and isn’t putting effort into the relationship, things could be becoming one-sided. A bad friend will purposely leave you out of things, turn up late, use you as the butt of jokes, is rude to you, doesn’t return your calls or uses you for their own needs without giving anything back.
At what stage should you confront your friend?
First, check in with yourself – how does this person make you feel? Do you feel overlooked, misunderstood or comprised in their company? If so, it might be time to confront them. Just be sure to do this in a constructive way – for example, if they're always late, let them know how that makes you feel rather than accusing them of being a bad friend: “When you’re half an hour late every time we meet it makes me feel like you don’t really care or have time for our friendship.” Don’t be afraid to confront a friend, no matter how far you go back – just because they’re an old friend doesn’t mean they’re a good friend. Dynamics can change.
How best to deal with jealousy?
It’s only human to be a bit jealous, although when it comes to friendships, it’s likely a jealous friend is envious of something that is missing in their life. Try to suggest ways in which they can find happiness themselves and remind them that although some people’s lives look perfect, everyone has bad days.
Are there any non-negotiables when it comes to friendship?
If a friend is abusive then they’re not a friend. Equally, if they’re wholly unreasonable you should question what they’re bringing to your life.
How to apologise if you’re the one in the wrong?
Simply be open and willing to apologise. Ask your friends to warn you if you’re doing something that doesn’t make them feel comfortable or happy and make sure they know how much you value their friendship.
How best to cope with losing a friend?
Losing a friend can be very painful. To deal with this, try and figure out the circumstances that lead to the friendship ending. If you feel you’ve done what you can to sustain a friendship but it hasn’t worked then focus your energy on the friends that make you feel good. Understand that some friends aren’t forever; they're great for a while but that can’t always last. Try not to be bitter about a failed friendship, simply move on and accept it was a friendship of circumstance rather than a friend for life.
And how can you address the effect it may have on your wider friendship group?
Falling out can throw off group dynamics and make people feel uncomfortable, so try and reassure the group that although you and that particular friend don’t talk there’s no reason why you can’t all be friends. Maturity is the best policy.
For more information visit RealCoachingCo.com