In Others’ Words: Education

Not all of my friendships have lasted.

That’s not surprising, I know.

It’s rare for a friendship to span elementary school through high school on into college and everything beyond: a career, a marriage (or not), kiddos (or not) life choices that draw us further apart than a geographical move ever could.

But there are times when I have closed the door on a friendship. I’ve never slammed a door in a friend’s face, but there have been times — just a few — when I packed up and moved away emotionally. When I left no forwarding address. When I didn’t return calls — and when I didn’t pick up the phone to be the first one to call either.

Why would I pursue the end of a friendship?

So many reasons.

Emotional and spiritual exhaustion. I could only carry around “should have saids” in an attempt to “live at peace” with a friend for so long.

I was worn out from all the trying … all the maintaining the relationship required. After all, is friendship about maintaining?

I taught these people it was okay to treat me certain ways. I hadn’t spoken up. I hadn’t expressed hurt … or disappointment … or an honest opinion in years.

And friendship begins and ends with honesty — that whole “What, you too?!” emotional honesty that anchors hearts from here to eternity.

In Your Words: How have you taught people to treat you? 

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How have you taught people to treat you? Click to Tweet

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29 Comments

  1. July 1, 2013, 6:24 am   /  Reply

    Beth, what an interesting topic. When I saw the title come across in my subscription email I had no idea that it would be about friendships and relationships, but how true: aren’t social dynamics all about learning? To answer your question, I try to respect each person for who they are (even, I confess, if I don’t necessarily like them on a personal basis). And, I hope they can respect me as well. I was brought up with do onto others as you’d like them to do onto you. And this has gotten me through some tight spots in life.

    Also, it’s interesting how certain friendships may oscillate in our lives. With hindsight now, I’m realizing God plants different people in our lives at various times for so many reasons. I always say: with Him, there is no coincidence.

    • July 1, 2013, 9:45 am   /  Reply

      Elaine:
      I agree — this quote took me in a direction I hand’t expected.
      I’ve learned so much in the context of friendships, but looking back, I realize I’ve learned a lot about me, both good and bad.

  2. July 1, 2013, 6:47 am   /  Reply

    How have we taught people to treat us? What an impacting thoughty thought. I can see that if we make things too easy for others, require too little because we’re willing to, absorb too much, it establishes foundations for relationships that don’t (& shouldn’t) pass the building code. Pondering and praying about that more today.

    • July 1, 2013, 9:45 am   /  Reply

      Dee:
      Love how you built on this quote today.
      🙂

  3. July 1, 2013, 7:12 am   /  Reply

    Beth, what an impacting thought. We do train people to treat us certain ways. I’ve let some friendships go too. It’s never easy for this gal who wants to make everyone happy all the time. This has been it’s own downfall in some friendships. I try to treat others with grace and honesty.

    I agree with Elaine. I’ve had friendships that spanned seasons of my life, and others that have spanned the years. And I’ve got a couple that have spanned most of my life. I’m thankful for each type.

    • July 1, 2013, 9:46 am   /  Reply

      Jeanne:
      One thing I’ve learned is that friendships come and go — and sometimes they come again.
      Not all friendships — all relationships — are forever. And that doesn’t mean that the friendship was bad or wrong.

  4. Andrea Cox
    July 1, 2013, 7:18 am   /  Reply

    Beth, my eyes misted up on this one. Teaching people how to treat us is difficult but a necessity. Common courtesy and manners are no longer the norm in today’s world. So, I try to live the way I want to be treated. Live by example. It’s not always easy, and sometimes I miss the mark. But I pick myself back up and try again another day. It’s a process we’re constantly doing because there will always be people who don’t want to treat us right. Hopefully we’re not those types of people to others.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

    • July 1, 2013, 9:47 am   /  Reply

      Andrea:
      My eyes misted on this one too.
      And I even found myself questioning my choices.
      I can say that I miss some of my friends … but that doesn’t mean I would renew the friendship. It would be unwise for me — and for them.

      • Andrea Cox
        July 3, 2013, 2:33 pm   /  Reply

        Totally agree and understand, Beth. I’ve been there. Those are difficult choices to make and they hurt, even though they are the right choices to make.

  5. July 1, 2013, 7:31 am   /  Reply

    I love this, Beth. You’ve got me thinking…I honestly don’t know that I’ve previously pondered the thought that I do, by my words and actions and all, treat others how to treat me. But I can definitely think of a friendship that faded away due to my unwillingness to really, truly be honest with the other person about what I was feeling…which led to the other person doing the same. So much changes when we’re honest and when we speak up about the hard things.

    • July 1, 2013, 9:48 am   /  Reply

      Melissa:
      It was only as I learned to be honest about who I was that I was able to engage in honest – and truly loving — relationships with others. Not in a belligerent way, but in a respectful way that honored them and me.

  6. July 1, 2013, 7:32 am   /  Reply

    I’ve taught them loyalty, because I give it.
    I’ve taught them endurance, because I live it.
    Joy, faith, encouragement and love, because I share those whenever I can.
    Laugh with them or for them, never at them.
    Carry them when their hearts give out.
    Fluff up their wings when they’re ready to fly.

    But if they betray me? Sell me down the river of gossip? Turn on me without a reason?
    Or if they lie?

    I am not a mat, but there is a door.

    • July 1, 2013, 9:48 am   /  Reply

      Jennifer, I love who you are.

      • July 1, 2013, 9:55 am   /  Reply

        Perfect Jennifer! I need to copy that, along with Beth’s blog!

      • July 1, 2013, 10:02 am   /  Reply

        Thanks, Beth. I love you too.
        You are one of those people who’s fluffed my wings and I appreciate you SO MUCH.

  7. July 1, 2013, 7:59 am   /  Reply

    I’ve had a few friendships that fell by the wayside…largely in part because of this very thing. But I didn’t retreat well. I didn’t speak up for myself. Just…faded away. And that wasn’t right either. I think it’s a delicate balance.

    • July 1, 2013, 9:49 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Lindsay.
      The care and feeding — the ending and beginning — of friendships is tough.

  8. Katie Beth
    July 1, 2013, 8:37 am   /  Reply

    Such truth! Thank you for sharing this and for teaching me while growing up that not all friendships last as long as others…and THAT’S OK. 🙂 I love getting to learn and glean wisdom from you!

    • July 1, 2013, 9:49 am   /  Reply

      🙂
      I’ve watched you make friends and be a friend.
      You do it well.

  9. July 1, 2013, 9:53 am   /  Reply

    I learned, in a hard place, that when you call a man ‘friend’, there is a permanent obligation that goes with it. So I don’t make friends easily or quickly – because if I have to die for them, that’s the price.

    “Greater love hath no man…” You know the rest. Call a man – or woman – friend, and you’re tied to that.

    And where does that lead? Last Friday, our bank accounts were criminally cleaned out. We were left with $8 in cash.

    Our neighbors bought my wife a tank of gas, and about $150 in groceries to get us to the next paycheck.

    Friends.

    • July 1, 2013, 11:30 am   /  Reply

      How AWFUL!! And how kind of your neighbours!

      I have this friend who once said if I was ever in trouble, there’d be lawyers, guns and money coming my way.
      Hopefully someone near you can do the same.
      But not with the guns. That would not work out well.

  10. July 1, 2013, 9:58 am   /  Reply

    Oh, Beth, what a timely post. I was thinking just yesterday of a family relationship that had ended because I finally decided to be honest with the person. Like Jennifer said, I believe once a person betrays you and they don’t seem to care that they have, the door is a very good option.

  11. July 1, 2013, 11:38 am   /  Reply

    Timing on this is perfect. I’ve found myself involved in such friendships. But I’m never happy to see my friend. More like spouting an internal “Shields up!” I’m going to have to think seriously about what you’ve said. Thanks for sharing!

    • July 3, 2013, 7:31 am   /  Reply

      Marji: Timing is everything, isn’t it — and relationships — friendships — shouldn’t require shields.

  12. July 1, 2013, 11:09 pm   /  Reply

    Such a great post, Beth. The quote is one I keep in mind when I’m getting into a business relationship with someone who seems high maintenance. As for friends, I try to keep high maintenance ones at a distance.

    So sad to have to let friends go, though, but it happens. I had to let a relationship go after more than 30 years. I talked with her about wanting to change and she said, “No way.” Guess that’s only fair. She didn’t sign up for me to change – my choice and she didn’t like it. Sometimes I think about calling, but then realize the friendship won’t work any better than it did before unless she’s changed. I’m guessing that hasn’t happened since I haven’t heard from her in five years. I appreciate that I can always relate to your posts.

    • July 3, 2013, 7:32 am   /  Reply

      Kim: I understand the “I think about calling” comment. Here’s the reality: The other person isn’t calling me either.
      So I pray, listen for God’s leading, and continue on.

  13. July 2, 2013, 6:49 am   /  Reply

    So true, Beth. I can’t tell you the number of times this quote has come to mind in my life. If, after sincere effort, you can’t achieve a mutual honesty, authenticity and respect in a relationship, be it family, friend, or even a job situation, it is time to gently close the door and move on.

    • July 3, 2013, 7:33 am   /  Reply

      Anne: Love the three attributes you listed: honesty, authenticity and respect.

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