When you begin to grow and change through time, you will inevitably find certain people who are a negative influence on you. They have a low self-esteem and they will, often without consciously even realizing – attempt to keep you down. Not because they are bad people. It’s only an unconscious protection mechanism.
The normal kind of friendship in which this is very likely to turn into a question for you is when the interaction is parasitic. They get far more from the friendship than you do. It seems logical to just’cut them off’ but doing so is not that simple. For starters, most people lack the confidence in their ability to be assertive enough to just flat-out tell the individual they wish to end the friendship. So they go about it in unhelpful ways. One method is to set the other person up to position yourself as the victim. That way you have an’excuse’ to be angry with them and can use that as the reason as opposed to face the truth. The other thing lots of people do is just stop answering calls or responding to messages and hope the parasite just receives the message and goes away.
Either way however, there is going to be an inherent feeling of guilt that will make this process difficult. And perhaps for good reason. The truth is that you probably played into the parasitic relationship at least a bit. So that guilt comes from the fact you know you are more responsible than you’d feel comfortable acknowledging. If you admit your part then you risk looking like the poor man that has only used their friendship when it was convenient for you and now that you don’t want them any more, you simply abandon them.
But that does not mean you are entirely bad. It just makes you are human. All of us do this when we crave the approval and link from people with no self-confidence to do so in a way that produces healthy boundaries. So you can leave the parasite behind if you desire, but it’s still important to learn healthier boundaries for future friendships. It is okay to make mistakes but repeating them is not useful.
The other uncomfortable reality you will have to face in order to develop from the experience is to accept that their parasitic interactions with you is only part of the reason you want to cut them off. The other is that there’s a very real possibility that they remind you of the parts you don’t like about yourself. So it is important to acknowledge that your choice to cut off them is not to punish them but to help you grow. The lesson you will want to learn however is that in the event that you don’t work on growing New York City Bat Removal, you will just wind up repeating the same cycle along with different friends.
If you’re feeling too guilty about cutting them off entirely, there is another way. And that’s to change the way you interact with them.
Let’s say you have a friend who on the surface, pretends to have your best interests in mind. However, you start to realize that some of their off-handed remarks are actually subtle put downs to keep you down. It’s probably going to feel awkward as hell, but There’s no real reason to prevent you from saying words to the effect of:
“Look I appreciate your concern, but when you say things like that it feels like a subtle sort of put down. I’m sure you don’t mean it but I will have to insist that you respect my wishes to not speak like this any more. I really don’t want to lose your friendship but I want to let you know that I am only going to continue speaking with you in the event that you respect that.”
That sounds easy but here is the hardest part.
There’s a good chance they have held the upper hand by being the dominant player in the relationship. So standing up to them like this will inevitably create tension, and they’re not going to enjoy that. The reality is however that good relationships involving good friendships, will defy this tension. That is how you create boundaries.
And there’s a good chance this is true. The major hurdle stopping someone from insisting on a more respectful interaction with a buddy is how they know they are guilty of similar interactions. Either that or they sort of’invite them’. Because if you’re going to stand your ground with this new border then you have to accept it when they respond by pointing out your own interpersonal flaws. So to stay consistent, you must step up and accept that if there criticisms of you are true, then you might have to change your interactions with them too. To put it differently, you have to give them no excuses by changing your own behaviors also. And that’s the hardest part.
If you do this yet – you admit your flaws to them. You work on changing your own behavior in return for expecting an improvement in their own. Then one of two things are inevitable;
The first is that they will simply cut off you, saving you the guilt from cutting them off. It won’t probably happen easily mind you. They will inevitably complain to your friends and attempt to turn them against you by telling you that you think you are’too great for them now’. Expect this and hope that you may inevitably have to lose both them and other friends in the procedure.
This is another hard part. You’re likely to feel like your behavior is under scrutiny and be judged for being unjust if you hold others to standards you aren’t ready to live up to. They may also attack you for your inconsistency if you enable it or even invite it on some occasions when it is convenient for you but disallow it if it does not suit you. They won’t take your border seriously and you’ll inevitably end up looking like the bad guy.
But, if you step up. If you’re honest and open about it. If you’re consistent. If you learn to exercise mutual respect. And most of all, if you acknowledge your own flaws instead of attempt to prop yourself over another individual as being superior to them. If you do these things then there is a very real possibility that you may actually lead the connection in a healthier direction.
This will be difficult at first and will feel like two people floundering around in the water trying to save themselves without being tempted to grab onto another person to keep them afloat without pushing their mind under in precisely the identical time. If you manage to do this however, then this is by far the best result by far.
As soon as you learn to master this process however, you will not only have made leaps and bounds in your social skills but you’ll have also learned to step up and develop your own restricting immaturity also. So it is a win-win.
Again – whilst this is the most perfect outcome, it’s difficult to do but learning the skills is well worth the effort. If this sounds like a goal you’d like to achieve in your interpersonal relationships, then just remember this.
At the end of the day, the quality of your relationships return to their communication dynamic. And the quality of communication you have with different folks will be most heavily affected by the quality of interpersonal communication you have with yourself.