Friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been networking like a fiend to increase my social network and bring business in the door. New friendships are forging at the same time that old friendships are shifting and falling away.
The topic of unfriending came to mind last week when I was in a cafe trying to relax after work and have some tea. Let me set the scene up for you.,.
I was in a cafe that was VERY quiet...cool right? Yes...until these two women come in to the cafe and sat down for tea to have an intellectual conversation about therapy. I know random. I had just finished up with clients for the day and was about to sit down myself to write. Their conversation was very intellectual with one friend talking a bit over her friend's head and might I say acting like her therapist. This went on for some time with the more quiet friend who had been looking for a therapist listening to her much louder friend act like she was conducting a therapy session in the cafe
OK you get it....well just wait because it gets worse. The therapist friend tells her quiet friend....
"Well there is something that I have wanted to talk to you about for some time. I have been talking to my therapist about it and I thought we could talk about it today."
WHAT? I think. Who does that?
And that's when it occurred to me what this quiet woman really needed to do. She needed to
UNFRIEND HER FRIEND!!
I mean seriously....who takes their friend out to tea to spend the entire time analyzing their life and then decide to drop a bomb of a deep seeded old conflict into the mix? Certainly not a friend who you need, that's for sure.
Unfriending is a common term these days due to social media following. We often think about how this applies in the online world but not so much in the real world. People friend and unfriend each other on social media platforms as if friendship were a commodity. A lot of these "friendships" aren't even based in present day reality but instead based on a connection from the distant past or maybe one that actually has never really formed in the real world.
It got me thinking about the concept of what is the meaning of friendship. What makes up an actual friendship has become confusing now a days. This topic has been on my mind for a few weeks now and witnessing this conversation just solidified it for me.
What does it mean to be a friend? What does it mean to have a friend?
There are many different answers to this question with no right or wrong answer. What friendship means to each of us is often different. You may even have different levels or types of friendshipswhich makes your definition of what it means to be a friend different in different situations.
To me a friendship should be flexible, forgiving and based upon love. No matter if you are friends who rarely see or talk to each other or friends speak with each other on the regular, to me the overarching thing that is important is safetySafety must be at the core of creating a relationship on any level. If one person in the scenario feels that the safety is not there then there is NO WAY that a friendship can blossom.
Unfriending friends where safety doesn't exist is crucial in creating a safe relationship within yourself. Toxic relationships are like processed food. They are absorbed in your body like foreign objects. The spirit starts to whither the more you feed it food and emotions that create a sense of unsafety.
"Eating clean" is popular now a days. Almost like it's a fad to be health conscious. While getting healthy as a fad is never ultimately healthy, one thing that is also important to bring awareness to is how you feed yourself through your relationships.
If there is underlying tension in a relationship that is not being addressed then it needs to come up and out. If for some reason it does not feel safe to have such a conversation then that gives you information about your relationship to the other person.
For all I know the quiet woman in the above scenario felt safe with her therapist friend. Maybe it's my mothering instincts that randomly come up to the surface with adults (I know weird but it's what is:) but I couldn't help but feel like this woman needed a hug and a suggestion to
Unfriend her friend.
Maybe it's also because I have been in that situation several times over the years and I know what it feels to feel like you are not safe in a friendship. I know what it feels like to feel uncomfortable bringing up these issues with a friend. I also know how it feels in my gut and the rest of my body when I swallow my words and tolerate what feels inappropriate and intolerable from someone who professes to care about me.
Toxic food comes in many forms. Health is not just about eating the "right" foods and not eating the "wrong" foods, but it is also about being in relationship with people who make you feel safe, loved and special. It's important that we have friendships that help us grow as a person but that kind of growth can only come when we feel safe and loved.
So do yourself a favor...get rid of the "frienimie." You know who I am talking about. The one who cuts you down, who talks down to you, who constantly seems like they are in competition with you, the one who oddly flirts with your boyfriend/girlfriend when you are out, and the one who just overall makes you feel unsafe.
You may notice that you feel a lot different afterwards. Much like a cleanse of your diet, clieansing your relationships can do wonders for your mind/body/spirit.
So go ahead and