Fifteen years after its premiere, I finally got into The Sopranos. What do female friendship and one of the most violent TV shows in history have in common? Bear with me here. One Sopranos episode I saw recently—more specifically, a comment made in that episode—really struck me. It’s when Tony says to Janice (for those who don’t know, his sister, who is always getting into trouble and expecting him to bail her out), “Every time I hear your voice on that phone, I know it’s gonna cost me. Time, money. You never do anything to simplify my life.” Harsh? Oh yeah. But also honest and real. Sometimes it’s necessary to confront those close to us—particularly when they’re hurting us, or when we’re giving a lot more than we’re getting back.
As fellow Giggler Gina Vaynshteyn said before, not all friendships are meant to last forever, and there are times when you have to cut people loose in order to be the best person and friend you can be. Even though these decisions are painful, friendship shouldn’t feel like a chore or constant work. Here are some ways to know your friendship isn’t adding to your life in a positive way anymore.
You’re always giving and never (or very rarely) getting anything in return
You know the scenario. You’re frequently beckoned to provide extensive insight on your friend’s latest problem or drama. You help because you want to support your pal but can see this is becoming a pattern and taking a lot out of you. To paraphrase Tony Soprano, you’re consistently giving something—time, money, energy, advice, career assistance—until there’s little left for you or others in your life.
You’re only contacted when the other person wants something
This is a good test to see who is a real friend and who has a tendency to use or take advantage of you. A little while ago, I had a friend who only ever emailed when they needed career assistance, whether it be advice, an email introduction to a professional in my network, help with a project/pitch or job recommendation. Be wary of people who only come around when there’s something in it for them. Maybe it’s a friend who’s always asking if you can help with a move, drive him/her to the airport, loan cash, etc.
When you’re in trouble, you get radio silence
This person has no issues approaching you when even the slightest thing goes wrong in his/her life, but when you have a problem on your hands, you don’t receive help of any kind. For this reason alone, you know not to rely on the other person in times of need. You’re the one who solves all the problems for others, but not the one who is allowed to face struggle and get some guidance.
You’re never asked about your own life
As Gina wrote in her own post, a sure sign you need to move on from a friend is when exchanges become one-sided. This person doesn’t take the time to see how you’re doing because his/her woes are all-consuming, and you’re the one who always has it together (on the surface) anyway. It’s common to go through periods like this, but you can’t forget to be a friend, as you might push away the people you care for and not have them around when things are finally good again.
You’re guilt-tripped for not being able to help at a moment’s notice
Maybe it’s the middle of the night, a hectic work day or a fun vacation and your friend finds herself in a pickle. You can’t do anything about it at that very moment and get guilt-tripped as a result. This shows a lack of consideration for your time and responsibilities. If you’re on a trip and trying to be present for the people you’re hanging out with, you shouldn’t be texting back and forth unless it’s a life or death situation. If you’re working, you have to finish the day or at least wait until break time to deal with outside stuff. If it’s the middle of the night, you might be sleeping or preparing to rest. Your world doesn’t stop because a friend has a dilemma, and if he/she can’t recognize that, you aren’t getting the respect you deserve.