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Archive for the ‘Communication Series’ Category

We’ve talked about a lot of aspects of relationships throughout this series, but this may be the hardest one to breach. Letting go of a friendship that’s toxic or just no longer there is hard–harder than trying to make a new relationship work.

I’ve been there. Twice I’ve had to really think about letting go of a relationship, and it’s a hard thing to do. When you have a relationship, it’s a hard thing to question, because you love that person. But when it’s no longer healthy and it’s sapping you of energy, there’s something wrong. And maybe it’s time to let go.

 

One-Sided

One relationship I held onto for years before realizing it just wasn’t there anymore. I did everything I could to keep it going, initiating conversations, happy when he actually responded. Of course, he was the only childhood friend I wanted to keep in contact with, so it was hard to let go of that friendship.

But I had to let it go. It became a one-sided friendship, all of the effort coming from me to keep the relationship going. When a friendship becomes so one-sided that the only time you hear from that person is when you contact them, and you’re generating the entirety of the conversation as you’re having it, then it’s no longer a healthy relationship. You’re putting much more effort into it, and honestly, that other person may not even be thinking about you until you contact them.

This isn’t to say that those friends who you always have to contact are like that–I am in no way saying that. There are many people out there who just struggle with making initial contact, as we talked about here. The difference is in whether or not they even seem interested in keeping up with your life. If so, then they’re just not the type to reach out. If not, you might want to consider letting go of a potentially one-sided relationship.

 

Nothing You’ve Done

There are other reasons to let go of a friendship with someone, though. Another reason I’ve encountered is when it’s just not the same relationship anymore. Two of my friends in college dated, and I was close to both of them. But their relationship didn’t last, and neither could all the relationships that surrounded them. The relationship I had with one friend stayed, because it was very outside of the relationship we had as a group. And although the other one was outside of the group as well, I was too connected to my other friend. Keeping our relationship alive hurt him, so I had to let it go.

Sometimes, letting go isn’t for your own good, but for the other person’s. If your relationship is causing them pain, they’re not going to pursue that relationship, no matter how badly you don’t want to lose it. Sometimes, to help them out, you have to let go. Because you care too much about them to hold on and hurt them.

 

There are many other reasons to let go of a relationship; maybe it’s become toxic in some way, or maybe you’ve just grown apart and it’s hard to let go. I won’t go into detail about other reasons here, because I don’t have the experience with them. I’ve not seen them in action, and I would rather not talk about something I’m not sure about.

If you have an experience you’d be willing to share, or you want to add to something I’ve said here, feel free to join in. I’d love to hear your stories and start a discussion on this topic. It’s hard to let go of a relationship, no matter what kind of a relationship it is.

 

Communications Series

1 – Communication with Life’s Stresses

2 – Reaching Out and Being Intentional

3 – Reaching a Deeper Level – Big Talks

4 – Your Friend but Not Theirs

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So far in this series, we’ve talked about communication when life is stressful, reaching out to others intentionally, and taking a relationship to a deeper level. This week is a little different, but still relevant to what we’ve been discussing.

Picture this: You have two different friends, both of whom you’re very close to. With each you’ve reached some of the deeper levels of friendship and companionship. They’re both very dear friends of yours. But they hardly know each other. They’ve met a couple of times, but haven’t really had the conversations or time together that you’ve had with each of them. And soon you find out there’s some misunderstanding between them, some tension that you only notice after it’s been voiced to you. But they’re not good friends, so how do they work it out? How do they get together to talk when they’ve not done so before? Do you have to be the go-between?

This is something that can happen often in life, whether when we’re in school, work, or another large place we’re at for a while. And when this scenario comes up, you can feel the tension on both sides. Conversations with each person about the other and what’s going on seem strained and heavy. Almost too heavy for you to bear the weight of both.

Each person is your friend, but not theirs–not the other’s friend. This can easily put a strain on both of your relationships because you don’t want to lose either of them. You don’t want to be prioritizing one over the other, and you start worrying that you will or that you are.

Yet the best thing you can do in this situation is stay calm. Try to get both sides of the story if both friends are forthcoming about it. Then help them get in touch to set up a time to talk it out among themselves, and step back from the situation. There’s not much more you can do.

But what if they don’t want to try to work it out? In my experience, if they’re both close friends of yours, they’ll want to work it out. If they’re close friends, they’ll worry about the strain it’s putting on you and make it a priority to talk about whatever problem there is. But you can’t force them into it. And if they won’t take the time, question why. Ask them what it is that’s holding them back, and hope that they’re honest with you.

This can be a very hard thing to deal with because there’s really nothing you can do. And that’s hard. But you can’t control others’ feelings, thoughts, actions, or desires. It has to be completely up to them. And if they won’t, talk to them about it. Let them know how much it would mean to you if they did. And if they still won’t, then you may have a legitimate reason to question your friendship.

Your friends should be able to make sacrifices for you if they care about you, just as you would make sacrifices for them. This is a problem that’s bothering you because you care about them, because you care about how they’re hurt or whatever it is they’re feeling. In my experience, a deep, lasting friendship is one where there’s mutual sacrifice. And there’s no way to get around that.

So if you ever have this kind of an issue, or even sense something like it, take the time to figure out what it is. Ask those involved about what’s going on, and do what you can to facilitate conversation between your two friends. But don’t keep yourself in the middle or run yourself down with worry. Do what you can, then step back and let them take it the rest of the way. It has to be up to them.

 

What do you think? Do you have any experiences similar to this? What are your suggestions? We all have relational problems in life. Let’s help each other through them.

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Part 3 of my Communications Series.

Part 1                       Part 2

 

In Part 2, we talked about reaching out to others and intentionally doing so.  However, that’s just a starting point. At the start of a relationship, things tend to be around surface level: asking how the day was, talking vaguely about family, friends, and life. But to reach a deeper level more serious talks need to happen.

Once we’ve established a relationship with someone and have become friends, we can take that relationship deeper by talking about some of the bigger things in life: issues in the world and our views on them, the deeper aspects of our personalities, families, and life.

Many times, conversation will work itself around to these topics, but that doesn’t mean that we’re voicing the extent of our true views and values. A specific topic can come up several times throughout a friendship, and you’re likely to learn new insights and thoughts about each others’ views each time. Part of this comes from us changing/gaining perspectives throughout life, modifying our views and how we understand our values. But it can also come from feeling comfortable enough around someone to show them what we hold dear, deep inside.

Becoming comfortable around another person can happen in a variety of ways: it can be how someone listens or talks, it can take time and familiarity, or many other reasons that people have. The point in both parties feeling comfortable is that it breaks down walls that normally hide certain aspects of our views. These walls are built because of fears we hold. Therefore, for two people to feel comfortable around each other, we need to work at breaking down walls and fears: both in ourselves and whomever we’re hoping to connect with.

In Oneself

In order to break down our own walls, we need to know what they are, where they came from, and what they’re protecting. To know what our walls are, we have to do some self- and/or soul-searching. This can look different for each person, so I’m not going to address it in depth in this post. Many times, however, this comes from reflecting on our interactions with others and in what we decide to share with those we don’t know well.

Next, we need to look back and reflect on our lives. This includes childhood, teen years, and any other experiences we’ve had, whether with strangers, failed friendships, family, etc. With each wall we discover we have, we should take the time to find where it came from and how long we’ve had it. This leads us to the last big thing we need to know.

What am I protecting with this wall? A question we must all ask ourselves, because there is always a reason. Using an area of time the wall formed, can I find a specific memory centered around this fear? The ultimate question here is: What am I so afraid of that I won’t share it with anyone?

In Others

Breaking down our own walls is difficult, but breaking down others’ is more so. With our own walls, we can search through our own experiences and find out why they’re there and what they’re protecting. But with others, we probably don’t know them well enough for that. So we have to be patient and stick by them, waiting for the right opportunity and conversation to pull in some deeper personal questions. However, if we ask deeper questions of another we must be prepared for their questions as well.

And as I mentioned above, there are different things that help break down walls. One of the biggest things for me is someone taking the time to listen to what I have to say without interrupting. It’s someone waiting as I pause to gather my thoughts and form words, someone who doesn’t feel a need to fill the silence. If someone sits and listens, as well as shares about him/herself, I’m more inclined to share who I really am with that person.

The difficult part here is that everyone’s different. So we must be patient.

 

There are many aspects to deep conversations, but something I’ve found is that most of the time they’ll flow naturally from a more lighthearted conversation. We don’t have to force them, but we don’t want to avoid them either. If there’s a point in the conversation where we can insert a deeper question, we should do so and be prepared to respond to whatever he/she has to say. And we should be prepared to answer as well.

But don’t let feeling unprepared stop you from asking a deep question. The most likely thing is that you will have no idea what you’re going to answer to the same question, but you’ll learn about yourself in the process. I’ve been here many times, and it’s helped to deepen some of my relationships to a point where I start to feel as though I’ve known these people forever, rather than a few years or less.

 

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you all about how you’ve experienced deep conversations. Please share below or email me at andi_gregory (at) outlook (dot) com.

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Part 2 of my Communications Series. You can find Part 1 here.

In my last post, I touched on the feeling of being the only one to reach out. Often, I feel I’m the only one reaching out to others, trying to make plans ahead of time. And because of this, I not only start to doubt my friends and whether or not they want to hang out with me, but I start to doubt myself.

As I’m thinking about hanging out with a specific friend or group of friends, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I’m the only one that reaches out. In and of itself, this isn’t necessarily a trap. The trap is the thinking that follows this initial thought: the thoughts that you’re the only one being intentional, that you’re the only one who wants to plan to do things.

And more pessimism evolves from there. Personally, I start to wonder why my friends want to hang out with me. I start to wonder if I’m not enough of something for them to contact me. I start to feel I’m not as important to them as I thought.

I’ve recently had a bout with this line of thinking, and I didn’t combat it well. I let it get the best of me. But I’ve learned from it, too. I’ve learned that being the one to reach out and make the plans isn’t a bad thing. I’ve learned that people think differently, that different personalities and worldviews contribute to either reaching out or not.

And I’ve learned that this line of thinking should never deter me from reaching out to those friends and trying to make plans, even if the plans are just to meet up for a meal or coffee. That no matter how many thoughts like that creep into my mind, I needn’t let them get the best of me.

As people who desire relationships, we need to reach out to those around us, to those we care about. But we shouldn’t be dismayed and hurt if others don’t reach out to us as well. Perhaps reaching out is our way of being intentional, but not theirs. Perhaps theirs is being present in the moments you’re together, in the times you spend with one another.

We shouldn’t be afraid to express ourselves and our desire to spend time with another person in the ways we do and know best. Maybe that’s reaching out, maybe that’s spending time, and maybe it’s something different altogether. The best way to avoid any blame-games with close friends is to bring up the idea and discuss it.

Grow closer to one another by finding what each other see as being intentional, and learn how each other view the world. This helps avoid hurt and raises awareness between friends.

When I brought this up with a close friend, I learned that he doesn’t view the world the same way I do; that he sees sitting in class together, though we aren’t talking, as time together. And it is. But for me, it’s not intentional time together, not enough to continue building a relationship on. And I let the pessimistic thoughts get the best of me. I let them tell me I wasn’t good enough, that he wasn’t invested in our relationship, that I wasn’t important.

But those thoughts were very wrong, and he told me as much. With our differing worldviews and personalities, we saw different things, and he wasn’t aware that any inaction on his part was hurting me. After sitting down and discussing it, I’m going to try to remember that differing personalities doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. And he’s going to do his best to remember my views, as well.

But it doesn’t mean I should stop reaching out to make plans, with him or with others.

 

What do you think? Have you ever experienced anything similar to this? How do you view reaching out to others? What does “being intentional” mean to you? Don’t be afraid to discuss it with a friend, share below, or ask questions of me. 🙂

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To each and every one of us, our relationships are important. Yet sometimes we lose those relationships because of a lack of communication, no matter how important they are to us. Communication in relationships can be difficult, especially if we’re far from our friends and family. Under life’s busyness and stresses, we don’t communicate as often as we should, or sometimes not at all.

As a current college student, I understand how busy life can get. This last semester for me has definitely modeled that, with eighteen credit hours that included a remote editing internship and classes in freelance writing, philosophy, law and policy, and platform building, with an on-campus job thrown in. Needless to say, I’ve tried to be very careful about my timing of things, but it’s been hard to keep up some of my relationships here.

Of my closest friends here at school, we’ve all had really busy schedules where our free time often doesn’t overlap, especially after we’ve factored in homework time. At first, this was quite a struggle for me, as I had lots of friends that I wanted to see on a regular basis. But with time, effort, and sacrifice I’ve been able to keep up with most of my friends this semester.

When we’re stressed, overwhelmed, and all of our time is taken up by school’s classes and homework, or life’s work and responsibilities, we need to be conscious of the relationships that are important to us. We need to be fully aware of how much communication we’re having with those friends and family. Sometimes, we have to make some sacrifices in our own lives to keep a space open for that communication to happen, even if that may mean sacrificing time with other friends we see more often.

We need to make that contact and communicate on a regular basis if the relationship is to be sustained and continually growing.

“But what if I’m the one always reaching out?” This is always a good question, and for certain personality types, such as myself, it’s something that crops up fairly often. Many times, we feel we’re the only ones reaching out, that if the other doesn’t it means they don’t care or don’t want to talk to us.

I say that’s lies. Every bit of that is a lie. Think about it. There are times others have reached out to you. Or think about the reactions you’ve gotten from others when you’ve reached out to them. I, for one, tend to forget this when I feel I’ve been the only one reaching out. From my own experience, those I reach out to are always reciprocating and happy that I took the initial step. And some people have the type of personality where they just don’t think about it all that much; it happens because we’re so different. And those lies that come into our minds, that make us feel unloved and unwanted–we need to ignore them and continue to reach out, to make those connections with those we care about. (There will be more discussion on this in a later post; it’s a big topic.)

So what should we do when we see ourselves in danger of losing a friend because we never see them or talk to them due to conflicting schedules? We need to see what we can do to rearrange our schedules temporarily to catch that friend and talk about it. Then the two of you can work it out, can agree to rearrange your schedules so you have time to communicate and keep that relationship going. I, for one, am immensely glad I did this so I could keep the relationships that are important to me. And I will continue to be open to it.

 

What do you think? You’re welcome to share your thoughts and/or story below, or if you want to hear mine, feel free to ask. 🙂

 

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