Most people will not want to admit this out loud, but most of our non-familial interactions are voluntary, and they are also (on some level) selfish. The reason you are friends with someone is because you get something from them; you share an interest, a sense of humor, or even a love of one specific topic like movies or football. So you maintain the friendship and believe that you are there both willingly and out of obligation to ‘be there’ for the person.
What most people refuse to reconcile is the concept of growing apart, this idea that a friend you have had for ten years suddenly no longer becomes your friend in the same way. We make excuses for them and ourselves as we begrudgingly make our way out the door to go meet them. We lay a lot of weight on this idea of loyalty to our friends and in the process we forget our responsibilities to ourselves.
If a person exists in your life and has existed for a long time, there ultimately comes a point where you cannot relate to them on any level. Then it just becomes a waste of everybody’s time, doesn’t it? It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or they’re a bad person for feeling that, it just means that throughout this journey, your paths have veered off from each other.
This is where most people have difficulty letting go of something that has been consistent in their lives. Someone’s presence (who you have enjoyed) is no longer something you look forward to; rather it is a burden you must endure to keep this social contract up.
But what of your responsibilities to yourself? What of your own ambitions and dreams? A lot of the time we stay out of fear that we will not find another friend like that or that it will upset them. The thing is, it doesn’t have to mean that you’re leaving or upsetting anyone if your friend is mature enough to make the same realization. Something worked very well for a while and now it doesn’t, therefore it’s time for each person to continue on their perceived path. Sticking around means making sacrifices, such as not pursuing other things and just sitting there with someone you are unable to relate to.
This discussion of the functionality and usefulness of a friend sounds very clinical and robotic, but it’s really not. Often the most difficult things we must do are the most right things, Ghandi said that! (no he didn’t, but you get the idea). We must hold on to those who matter around us and let go of those who no longer have any impact on our lives; refusing to do so can lead to toxicity and damage that ultimately leads to resentment.
If the friendship means a lot to you then perhaps a discussion is warranted, but if it has run its course, then you have a responsibility to yourself and to the other person or persons to admit it and remedy the situation for what works for you (without malice, of course).
Loyalty is great and so is respect, but they are not just standards we apply on everyone. They are earned and bestowed on those we believe are worthy of them, so to hide behind a warped morality and words that maintain a certain amount of gravitas like loyalty is nothing more than denial; we must have the courage to turn our backs on what we have been told and forge new ideas and opinions ourselves in order to progress, otherwise we’re just stagnant.