Having friends is an integral part of life, after all we are made to be in relationships. While some people enjoy being alone, nobody wants to feel lonely. However, having the RIGHT sort of friends is important as well. There comes a point in life where we have to let certain people go from our lives - and that is OK. How do we know that a friendship has already run its course? I suggest these signs:
1. THEY DO NOT RESPECT YOU OR YOUR BELIEFS
Whether you are a Christian or not, your friends should always respect your values and principles. If you do not want to indulge in smoking/vaping, drinking, clubbing, gossiping, swearing (or anything really) but yet you have a friend or friend(s) constantly berating, mocking or making fun of your beliefs or even pressuring you to conform - it's a no go.
Jokes and name-calling are quite common amongst friends - but there should be some boundaries. If you have a friend that frequently looks down on you (whether subtly or openly) via snide remarks, sarcastic comments, undermining statements - it's time to let go.
2. THEY ARE INCONSISTENT
Is your friend unreliable? Does he/she struggle with punctuality or consistently breaks plans at the last minute for no good reason? Speak to them openly about it, but if nothing changes you are better off being friends with someone who would actually respect your time.
Do you find it very hard to get in touch with them? Do they not return your messages (SMS, Whatsapp, FB message, Emails etc) or calls? Do they give you promises of meeting up but no appointments or contact are made? Granted, sometimes people have busy schedules and we should not expect instant replies. But someone who values you will eventually get back to you and not leave you hanging all the time.
3. THEY ARE EMOTIONALLY HIGH MAINTENANCE
Friends who fall into this category come in various packaging. There is the friend who is extremely sensitive: he/she is always picking on things that you do or do not do, or stuff you say or do not say. You feel like you are walking on egg shells whenever you are around them, and you have to watch your every move lest you upset them. They may even have a habit of constantly reading into things that are not necessarily there... how tiring!
Then there is the drama king/queen. Yes, it is healthy to talk about our problems and struggles. But there are some people who continuously moan and groan about their life and yet do not seem to be taking any positive steps in improving it; in fact they may even ignore sound advice that is given to them. They are perfectly happy to have you as their shoulder to cry on...forever.
Then there are those who are EXTRA clingy. They want to know what you are doing, where you are at, who you are with... they get very jealous or offended when you are hanging out with other people and are hurt when you do not reply their text in under 30 seconds. Basically, they are not willing to give you your personal space.
4. THEY ARE NOT A POSITIVE INFLUENCE
Do your friends seem to be divert you away from what you actually want to achieve? Maybe you want to focus on your studies, but your friends want you to fill your time up with computer games. Maybe you want to draw closer to God but your friend tells you church is a waste of time. Maybe you want to get fit but your friend is not willing to accommodate your preferences. Basically the friend that is keeping you from making positive changes is more of a harm than a help.
Are your friends supportive of your choices and dreams? Friends should have the liberty to give us sound advice and correct us when needed - but it is entirely different when they spend every waking moment trying to discourage everything we want to do just because they have a pessimistic outlook on life.
The people you surround yourself with will have a significant impact on your life. Even Jesus who had a heart for the masses spent most of his time with his select 12, and within that select 12 he had his inner circle (Peter, Andrew, John and James).
Something to think about... part II will come later.