Cutting the cord with negative friends:

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I used to have a friend that leaned towards the negative side. She always had a lot to say about people, things, events. It was all bad. Nothing was above gossiping. I put up with it for a while because I still enjoyed the company. I enjoyed when we went out to do things. At my worst I’d play into the gossip a little, at my best I’d change the topic to something else.

The friendship didn’t go up in flames, or maybe it did on her side, maybe I’m the object of that negative gossip now. I wouldn’t have a way to know. What I do know is that despite red flags that this wasn’t the healthiest friendship I continued it till one night. That night we went to dinner, a normal occurrence. I remember walking out of the restaurant and saying goodbye. I felt awful. I was in a bad mood. I felt drained. I had gone in in a good mood and left a mess. After all the red flags, somehow that shift of mood told me that this was the last time I was going to dinner with her. So I went home and I put a lot of space between us until communications halted.

There are times in relationships were we need to bare our friends burdens. When our friends are going through hell they sometimes need to unload. We do it to them and they should be able to do it to us. Depressed friends need support, you can’t just drop people when they get negative about the things in their life. It’s when that negativity continues and spreads to all aspects of life once the circumstance improves. It’s when life gets better for them and they still want to trash on everything and everybody. It’s when the the conversations of others go from “they wronged me” to straight gossip.

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A combination of others: Absorbing traits of those we engage with.

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You know when you’ve been hanging around a friend for a long time and you start to pick up their slang words or their facial expressions? It happens subtlety, you normally don’t start to notice it until it’s pretty ingrained. Then suddenly it’s part of you, not just part of your friend.

These things happen to all of us and they happen on the regular. We absorb traits from those we are around the most. Sometimes it’s simple, like a phrase, sometimes it’s more complex. An example of that would be my growth in ambition. My fiance Chris is ambitious, and I’ve always teetered on the line. I’m ambitious about a few things, but for the most part good enough is good enough, but as we’ve been together my ambition has been growing. I want to do a better job at things that normally wouldn’t matter to me. I want to spend more time planning my actions instead of going with the flow. It’s a lot bigger personality change than gaining a phrase, but it’s a positive one.

Not all the things we gain are though. We gain peoples negative traits just as easily as we gain their positive ones. If we hang around a friend who is a gossip, chances are we’ll become a gossip before too long. It’s in our nature. We partake in something, we hang around something, and before long it’s a part of us too.

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Talking drama: How to get as close as you can to drama free

 

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Is anyone ever completely removed from drama? I don’t think it’s possible to avoid it all together, after all, conflict is part of human nature. But there is a difference in the lives of those who nurture drama and those who avoid it. We’ve all met people who thrive in the middle of drama and we’ve all met people who tremble when they see it, there is a way to avoid drama while not being afraid of confrontation and there is a way to know dramatic people without being involved in their drama.

It’s a balancing act, but it’s possible to live a relatively drama free life, I’m going to highlight some of the easiest ways to live a life were you’re not the lead cast in the center of a drama.

Avidly avoid social media conflicts and comment section debates: It’s okay to occasionally make a comment on topic that mean the most to you. Whether it be one of politics or health. What’s counter productive is to say it in a demeaning way and then argue in the comments. Actually avoiding arguments in comments can save you a lot of time. Most conflicts on social media aren’t worthy of your time, because most people on social media aren’t willing to change their mind. It’s okay to keep scrolling and it’s okay to save the debates for a more willing setting.

If their talking about others like that, they’re probably talking about you like that: If you have a friend that is always ranting about someone, there is a big chance that they’re also ranting about you to someone else. It’s near impossible to find someone that doesn’t occasionally let off some bad words about someone, but when you’re hanging out with people who constantly go off about others it’s probably time to reevaluate that friendship. We don’t want our lives to be in their beloved drama reel, so it’s time to stop feeding them with our stories and gracefully step back from the situation. If you need the entertainment watch a reality show on TV, don’t become part of one.

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Friendship: Beautiful but often temporary.

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We like to think that everyone in our life is there forever, and it’s true with family, but with friends it’s normally not the case. We love the concepts of best friends for life and we don’t like to think about the fact that most people only end up passing through. It sounds terrible to say that people are temporary, but yet, their time in our lives often are.

As I was making the guest list for my wedding I found myself thinking back to high school. I thought I’d have a different group on that list then I did, if you flash forward to college, my list would still be a little different. I’ve lost a lot of people over the years, and most of them fell off naturally. It’s not something I think about often, after all, I’ve gained a lot of people too, but some of the people I lost I thought would be around forever. I never thought it was naive to think that, but clearly it was. It got me thinking on how I view friendship and how I should.

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Loneliness: How to try and beat it.

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I saw someone post about being jealous of the characters on Sex and The City for having a close group of friends, it had well over 500 likes, under it were a lot of comments and jokes about being lonely. I see posts like this often, I hear comments about it in person too. People talk about how isolated they feel all the time. They talk about the fear of losing deep and meaningful connections and settling for quick chats. There’s been articles published about the loneliness ‘epidemic’ sweeping across the western world, and debates on if social media makes it worse or better.

I understand it, not because I would define myself as lonely, but because I can see the type of connections I used to have verses the types of connections I have now. My boyfriend excluded, I don’t have a best friend, I haven’t had one since I was in high school. I have friends, and I love them all dearly, but I don’t have one that I rush to talk about almost everything, and I certainly don’t have one that I talk to everyday. Maybe this is part of growing up, maybe we’re meant to trade some of these connections in for ones of a different kind. After all, we get busy, we’re working, we get in romantic relationships, we might just not have the time or energy to be buddies like we were in grade school. I honestly believe this is true, but I also believe that there is more going on here than just that.

I think that as a whole our society is becoming more isolated. I believe that as with most everything, most of this is our own doing. Sure it’s hard to meet people, but I think the real problem is that once we meet people we never get close to them. So how do we change that? How do we move on to being more social?

  • Change your idea of social events: It’s becoming more common to be an introvert than an extrovert and I’m not surprised. We’ve made all social gatherings a production. It’s parties and concerts and shopping, but it doesn’t have to be that way all the time. It can also be two people sitting on the couch catching up or making cookies at home. Social events don’t have to be energy draining, and when they aren’t, we tend to make more room for them because they aren’t taking up our down time but rather adding to it.

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On being judgemental:

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about judgmentalness.

Those who know me well know that at times I can be fairly judgemental, those that don’t know me as well normally wouldn’t guess it, because I try my hardest not to let it affect how I treat people. But, when I’ve judged people negatively I tend to avoid them and that’s what lead me to realize this was a problem.

When am in a situation where I must spend time with those I’ve already negatively judged, I normally end up liking them despite the few things that made me pull away in the first place. I might not end up being their best friend, but I always enjoy seeing them, I always want to catch up.

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Agree to Disagree?

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Agreeing to disagree was something I was taught to do growing up because, as a lot of us do, I have a sibling. It’s something we teach little kids so they don’t fight and so they learn to respect others opinions. So why does it seem like most adults I meet no longer have this skill?

I noticed this a lot in college. People would talk about politics, or social issues, or what is best for mental health, and it would go from a causal conversation to people shouting out each other in about three minutes flat. Our own politicians can’t seem to debate without screaming at each other. It’s terrible. You’re not always right and neither is the person you are arguing with. But if you can’t calmly hear their side of the story then you will never be able to change their mind or get them to see things through your eyes. I hate to tell you, but telling someone they’re an idiot and wrong is never going to get them to agree with you. Maybe we should try and use the tactics we try and teach our three years olds:

Can you explain why you feel that way? I understand that but have you ever thought about…? I totally see where you’re coming from, I just think we have different ideas on how to solve it. Time for brunch?

Okay, maybe our three year olds don’t get brunch, but you can see what I mean. It’s a very civil approach and it makes sense. I get that sometimes it’s hard not to get super heated about things you’re passionate about, but if you’re trying to spread that passion you have to be able to talk about it in a convincing and polite way. If you get to heated about a topic it’s going to make you angry for the rest of the day and it’s going to make the person you’re shouting out hate your view even more. It’s not just unproductive, it’s counterproductive.

I feel like I could end the post on that, but I want to talk about how many friendships I’ve seen ruined over one or two different views. Friendship is a neat thing, you can be friends with someone and never talk about politics and still have a very healthy friendship. You can disagree on big topics, like religion, and still have a very healthy friendship. How? By agreeing to disagree. By being a grown up and understanding why they think that and why you disagree.

I’m not saying everyone is logical, and I’m not saying you can expect people to always be when you are, but I am saying that most people have reasons for their views, and most the time their reasons aren’t because they hate something. It’s because they have different views on how we should approach these topics. It’s because they don’t understand something or because we don’t understand it.

It’s really possible to step away from a intense debate with respect. It’s also possible to know when not to approach a debate at all. It’s called agreeing to disagree. If a toddler can do it then you can too!