Making Friends: Part 4
Knowing when to walk away
Much like allergies, some people are just not good for others. You may know someone that likes another very well but for you, it's the same as your allergy to mold or strawberries. Nothing good ever comes of contact with them.
If you come to that spot in a relationship, remember that the first step is always communication. Make sure you understand what's really going on before making a decision. Pay attention to the things that are unsaid as well as spoken. Trust your gut. Learning to recognize when a relationship is worth fighting for and when it's worth leaving is super important. Here are some examples:
Person lies to you or about you: Leave. That's a form of abuse no one should tolerate. Trust is one of those things that is not replaceable in a relationship. If you think it was a mistake, they get a single "second-chance*" but if it happens again, leave. It sucks, but it's the best thing for you. This is all part of betrayal. Like a spouse cheating on you, lying is an absolute disrespect to you and the relationship.
*I will amend this one with the Christian charity I feel I must impart. My father used to say, "Trust is the easiest thing to lose, but the hardest to regain." It is rarely worth the considerable amount of time and energy you will need to expend to try again with someone you can't trust. Not that it can't be done, but it's rarely simple. Parents and children seem to do it best, but beyond that - it's a tough choice. It requires the other person actively choosing to change themselves and demonstrating that at all turns. In which case, you must decide to take that risk and stay on your own.
Person is unreliable: Fight for them. Unreliability tends to be a result of events ongoing in someone's life. It's very often a sign of distress. Find out why they aren't reliable any longer (assuming you didn't make friends with a flake in the first place) or if they generally have some habits they don't realize are off-putting. Communication and contact can help with this.
Person is in crisis: Depends. If a person is depressed / alcoholic / on drugs / etc. (in crisis!) then the last thing they need is to be abandoned, but they do need honesty and boundaries. If they are insistent on not taking control of their own life and making healthier choices, especially if their behavior is starting to spill into the lives of others (be it yours, their children, etc.), the first thing I could recommend would be intervention. Here's the catch - intervention is the final chance. If they reject it, flat out make the choice to continue on a destructive path, you have to distance yourself from them. You will still care but sticking around from that point is enabling, and that's not healthy for either of you. This is especially difficult with spouses, family members, and children - I'm not going to lie, it it heart breaking, but you can't help anyone else if you're being drowned at the same time.
Person is drama: Depends. Do they know they are drama? Can you tell them and know they will correct the behavior? If yes, fight for them. If no, leave. It's that simple. The best way I've heard it recently is, "You don't have to be in their movie." You have your own life film going on, don't let them change the plot.
Person is negative: Fight for them. So, here's a tricky one. The best way to fight for someone overly negative is to tell them and explain you won't be around it. Distance yourself from them, but don't leave altogether. Limit your contact. Contol the interactions. Leave when negative speech or behavior begins - immediately and without apology, though you should explain you don't enjoy being around the negativity so you'll see them later. Negativity is a bad habit - like biting your nails - but you can control it. You just have to want to control it, and usually realizing you're pushing loved ones away is enough of a catalyst.
Person is dangerous: Leave. Whether you're dealing with an abusive spouse or a member of a gang - if they are endangering you or your loved ones, leave. There is a time to negotiate and give second chances, but this isn't one of them. Broken and dead are states no relationship should leave you in - end of story.
If you find yourself having to walk away, say your farewells and explain but don't apologize for making a healthy choice for yourself. You're going to mourn the loss if the relationship was real and valuable to you, but you'll find yourself happier and with space for more love and joy going forward.
Recently, I've had to evaluate some relationships I value a lot. It's difficult because no one wants to hurt or cause hurt, but I have to do what's best for me and my family in the end. The final decision isn't made yet, because communication hasn't happened. But in the end, I know that I have amazing support in the others in my life - and tomorrow, God willing, the sun will shine.