It happened when my daughter was still in the church nursery. She was barely talking, and she was already mentioning her two “friends” by name. I was caught off guard by my daughter’s strong desire to find friends. But what started off as cute antics has grown. Those girls are still all friends 11 years later. And fortunately, no one still bites each other any more! Deep friendships are something most of us long to find. Friends can make life so much more fun and the hard times more bearable. Other times our friendships can be a source of great personal anguish. So how to know when to keep or fire that friend is a survival skill we should all attain. It will help us to draw and treasure the right friends and walk away from people who will drain us.
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How to Know When to Keep or Fire that Friend?
As we go through this conversation about friends, I would love if we would first look at our boundaries when it comes to our friends.
Do you struggle to allow others to get near you? Sometimes our past wounds from people makes it easier to keep everyone behind a wall. We tend to share very little with others. If this is your struggle, I would love to encourage you. Examine the “Keep the Friend” list below. Would you take a small leap of faith and allow one person who meets the standards of a “keep the friend” to be invited into your inner circle? Start small by sharing some bit of personal information about yourself.
Perhaps you lean the opposite way. You allow everyone into your inner circle when they really should be kept out in acquaintance land. Not everyone has earned the right to be in your inner circle. And you are the one that ultimately can decide whether to allow a person into your inner circle. Look below to see if any of your current “friends” have violated the “Fire that Friend” rules. If they have maybe it’s time to spend less time and share less with them.
You are a person worthy of being valued and cared for by your close friends!
Alright, so let’s jump in!
Keep the Friend if they are supportive of you.
A genuine friend wants to help you when you need help. They ask how you are feeling and genuinely care how you are doing. There is a balance to the relationship. Sometimes things are focused on your friend and what is going on in their life. Other times your friend is rearranging their schedule to be there for you.
A good friend gives to the relationship and makes you a priority. They will make an effort in the relationship by calling or texting and making time to get together.
There should be a certain comfort level in the relationship where you feel like they have your back. You may have times when life is busy and you all don’t see each other as much, but you know if you needed them they would be there for you.
Keep the Friend if they are respectful of you.
A healthy friend recognizes that you are talented and wonderful in your own unique way. They don’t feel the need to compete with you . They know their own worth and are not threatened when you enjoy successes. If they can promote you or bring attention to your skills they jump in to do so. In fact, they may be the one to point out the hidden talents you hesitate to recognize.
When you all poke fun at each other it should feel fun and not like they are secretly jabbing at you. You feel valued and safe in the friendship so when they laugh at your foibles or shortcomings it’s with the understanding that they also see the value of the real you.
Keep the Friend who listens to you.
Your friends are going to let you down at some point. We are all human and chances are we will do something stupid and hurt our friends at some point. However, the friend that is a keeper will listen when you say that you were hurt or confused by something they said or did. They will acknowledge their responsibility for their action. A good friend may say they are sorry they hurt you. They may say that this is an area they struggle in so you will need to decide if it is a flaw you are willing to live with like they live with yours.
Sometimes we will disagree with one another. After all, we are our own person. But you come to appreciate one another’s point of view and you know that your friend will listen to your ideas and beliefs.
Keep the Friend who understands your other obligations.
Friendship is work. We have to make an effort if we want to develop genuine relationships. However, as we get older we have a lot of responsibilities at work and at home. A friend who understands this and works together with you to maintain the relationship is priceless.
Sometimes relationships shift such as when one of you gets married or takes on a new job. It may take sometime to figure out the new groove. A healthy relationship should be able to gradually find a new flow to it. And when you get together things feel comfortable and you can’t wait to catch up with one another.
Keep the Friend who shares similar values and goals.
I have learned so much from my friends. I have learned how to be more organized, a better hostess, a better friend, a wiser person and more from my friends. Surrounding yourself with people who are a little smarter than you in some way can be a great way to improve yourself.
Too often I see people pick friends who are the exact same as they are or even a little less mature. It can feel safer.
When it comes to those friends you pull into your close circle make sure that you both have something to offer one another. Else you may find yourself pulled further away from your values and dreams.
So how do we know when to let a friendship end?
So now that we have delved into what makes a good friend, let’s look at some “friends” you may need to fire or at least remove from your close friend circle.
Fire the Friend who constantly criticizes you.
Do you feel like you are never good enough when you are around this friend? Do you feel like you come up short? I appreciate a friend who tells me that I’m in the wrong. But if you are constantly being told by your friend you are in the wrong then something is off. Any relationship should have a balance of truth and grace to it. They will be honest and truthful with you but it is balanced with love and grace. If you are feeling all the “honesty” but none of the love and grace it may be time to fire this friend.
Life is already hard enough without feeling like you need to work to win your friend’s approval.
Fire the Friend who makes your friendship a competition.
Do you feel like your friendship has become a competition? You share something exciting and instead of your friend being happy for you, they only tell you something about themselves that they did a little better. You find yourself thinking about what your “friend” would say if you mess up something or if they discovered that your child was struggling? Instead of them coming along side you and trying to comfort you, it feels like they are almost glad that you failed at something.
You may run in the same circles of friends so it may not be an option to never see this person. But you may need to fire them as your close friend and move them out of your inner circle.
Fire the Friend who never shares their feelings.
Most people who are healthy will gradually open up and share. They may pick and choose when to share personal information, but they will gradually share.
Walk away from the friend who never reveals anything personal about themselves. It is a strange feeling realizing that you have been opening up and sharing in what you thought was a healthy relationship. However, when you start to think back, you realize that your friend has never once opened up about their own thoughts and experiences. Friendship takes vulnerability. While everyone needs a different amount of time to feel safe to open up, never opening up is not a healthy sign.
Fire the Friend who only operates from a point of hurt
There is a tipping point in a person’s life where their genuine desire for friendships is outweighed by their need for self-preservation. Some people have experienced such deep hurt and trauma that it is truly hard for them to not always choose themselves over another person. While this sounds like someone who truly needs a friend, they need good mentors and a counselor more.
If you find yourself caught up with a friend who constantly hurts you, but you don’t feel like they are being malicious you may just be dealing with a deeply hurt individual. Stay close to them if you desire to help them, but you need to fire them as your close friend. Instead, see your former friend as someone who needs guidance and support, but who is unable to have a healthy friendship of give and take.
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I struggled in this area for several years. I was reacting to a former wound in my life and begin to pull more and more hurtful people to me which only increased my pain. At this time in my life, I did have some healthy friends. However, though I wanted to be a good friend, I would ultimately choose myself over them every time. When my choices led to a painful situation I finally began to change. And thanks to a few great mentors, I matured and became someone who could be a good friend.
Remember, you can only have so many friends in your inner circle. So make wise choices about who is allowed into that close circle.
How to Know When to Keep or Fire Your Friend!
You are a unique person full of worth and any person who desires to truly know you should treat you as such.
A position in your inner friend circle should be earned, never demanded or expected.
Do you need to make some different choices about who is in your inner friend circle? I highly recommend the book Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Safe People is not only life-changing, but it’s also very enjoyable as the authors have included plenty of stories to illustrate their points.
Is there someone who has proven to be trustworthy and supportive. Perhaps it’s time to allow that person to get to know the real you. Are there some people who you need to move out of your inner circle. If you have a friend who has repeatedly violated your trust and is very critical of you then its time to move them out of your inner circle. Take the first step today to creating the friendships you have longed to have!
Would you like a little more help with this topic? Sign up for my FREE “5 Days to a More Vibrant Life” where I will personally lead you through reviewing your boundaries. It would be my joy to encourage you in this area!
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