How to Evaluate the Quality of Your Friendships

Sep 10, 2020

What friendships or other relationships take up a lot of time, but in reality are not the kinds of friendships you desire? I am not saying that all of your relationships should be deep and meaningful. You need some dysfunctional friends. They can be some of your favorite people, although they might not be the ones you call in the dark night of the soul. We all need some wacky friends. We love them, and they provide most of the comedy. But two dynamics come into play in figuring out with whom you spend your time.

First, are you spending appropriate time for the level of relationship that exists? If you have so many surface friendships that you do not have time to give to the ones that you would consider close, that might be a problem. It would be like spending as much time with all the kids in the neighborhood as you do with your own. The ones most in your heart should get the most time, and sometimes we do not allocate time well to our circle of friends. If there are people you want to go deep with, then you have to focus on them more than some others, and to do that, some might have to go.

Second, sometimes people find themselves hanging out with people who are the relational equivalent of “filler.” I am not being pejorative, or saying that some people have no value. But there are some people who are pursuing activities in life that are not your values, and also, may even be destructive. For example, when addicts gets clean, they often have to say good-bye to their old circle of friends who still do drugs or party too hard. Their sobriety depends on it.

In less extreme cases, some people are in relationships or friendships that are keeping them in denial or stuck. Those relationships are not really adding anything to them and they have become mutually stagnant. If you are married, what couples do you hang around? Are those couples good for your marriage as well? Are they adding to your relationship, values, or growth?

Look at it this way. If you are a parent, you monitor who your children hang out with because their friends either influence them toward growth and maturity, or in the other direction. As an adult, you have to be your own chaperone, and ask yourself if certain relationships are good for you or not.

If you are single, you may be dating in a way that is not getting you where you want to be either. But what happens is that people stay stuck in dating practices or with certain people because they are unwilling to make an ending. In reality, what they desire cannot happen until they make that ending to create room for an entirely different relationship reality.