Ask Colleen: Negativity and friendship
February 1, 2017
I'm really stuck and need some advice. I am friends with this girl that I have known since freshmen year, and now we are seniors. I feel like our friendship has gotten really bad over the last couple of months. Not only do we live together, but we work together too. I just feel like I am always walking on eggshells with her and constantly being taken advantage of because she knows me so well. I don't want to lose a friend from freshmen year, but I also don't want to be around all this negativity. What do I do?
Doesn't want to lose a friend
Dear Doesn’t want to lose a friend,
This is a really important question to ask and one that everyone can relate to. No matter what point you are in your life, friends will come and go. Personally, I think sometimes we hold on to friendships that were meant to end earlier, but because of the longevity of the relationship it’s hard to let go. How can it not be? Once a friendship becomes consistent, that person becomes a part of your life, and to kick someone out of your life is not easy.
However, just because a friendship has lasted many years doesn’t mean it’s a healthy relationship. When you think you’ve finally reached a breaking point, the good memories you had with them always come back and the cycle continues. From what you are saying, it seems that this person isn’t being a friend to you in the way you deserve. The only way you are going to get rid of the negativity is to either talk it out or end the friendship.
I’ve been faced with friends coming and going since elementary school. This is nothing to be ashamed of; people change and we change as individuals. I once read somewhere that if a friendship last more than seven years, it will last a lifetime. As I started to get older I really believed this.
I am not saying that this can’t be true, but the number of years a friendship equates to doesn’t necessarily parallel to how strong the friendship is. What makes this situation tricky is that you live with her, go to school with her and work with her. Now, just because those are the circumstances doesn’t mean that you should feel like you have to walk on eggshells or be around constant negativity.
What I would first suggest doing is talking to her. The worst thing you could to do would be to not say anything and just wait it out until you graduate. That doesn’t help anyone and would only make the situation worse. Chances are, she can probably feel the tension too and would be open to talking as well.
Every relationship needs to be two-sided; that’s the only way it can work. Talking to her and being honest with your feelings could go a long way, and it shows that you are trying to mend this friendship. She may not even be aware that you are feeling this way or realize her behavior. As hard as talking to her may be, it’s the best way to get everything on the table. I truly believe that honesty goes a long way, and no matter what happens at least you know you gave it a shot.
Her reaction is something that you cannot control. You may be pleasantly surprised or she may react exactly how you thought she would. Again, a friendship is two-sided. If she cannot take into account your feelings and doesn’t believe she needs to change or that she did anything wrong, then you have a problem. I think her reaction is going to show how much she values this friendship, and this will help you move forward.
No matter how you decide to handle this situation, just remember to be honest and to know your self worth. Let's be real, no one has time for negative friends or friends that take advantage of you.
Best of luck,
Colleen Brown is a student at UW-River Falls.