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How to Know When It's Time to Move on from Friendships

Op-ed

Throughout our entire lives, and especially through our teenage years, friendships power us through the hard times, the happy times, and everything in between. When chosen carefully, friendships cause us to grow and mature. However, the wrong people break us down and make our lives take a turn for the worse. Although everyone experiences negative friendships from time to time, many people find it difficult to let go. If your friend is making you feel sad, down, or simply not someone you want to be around anymore, it may be time to end the friendship.

1. You are not a priority anymore

It never feels good to feel like a castaway, but that is many people's experience of a one-sided friendship. Where you are always checking up on them, giving them gifts on holidays, being sure to include them in plans with mutual friends, and creating time to spend with them, you are getting little in response. Not only does this slightly drive you up the wall, but makes you realize you're last on their priority list. In turn, this leaves you feeling hurt and confused. If the friendship is dragging along a one-way street, it's time to move on. Everyone deserves to feel valued and prioritized, so don't stay with someone who makes you feel less than you are. As Maya Angelou once said, "Never make someone a priority if all you are to them is an option."

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2. They downplay your accomplishments

The right friend will celebrate with you, and special occasions feel even more special when they attend. If your friend is a basketball star but you're an introvert who reads in your free time, they should still get excited about your spelling bee win. If your friend brushes off your accomplishments like it's no big deal, or even laughs at your interests, that's a major red flag. In turn, you start to feel as if you can't tell them about your achievements for fear of their reaction. Ironically, this will make you feel bad about yourself for not owning up to your accomplishments, and can develop into what researchers call "fear of success." High-accomplishing people may start to feel as if they hadn't deserved their achievements in the first place, adding to low self-esteem. Ultimately, your accomplishments aren't as triumphant as they could be with a friend that drags you down.A friend that isn't there to congratulate you after a tournament win or a violin recital doesn't make for a good friend.

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3. They don't respect your privacy

Nothing kills trust faster than a friend gossiping about you. Whether it's a personal anecdote that you made them promise not to spill, or them simply badmouthing you, it hurts to find out a friend is going behind your back. What could be even more hurtful is a friend telling an embarrassing story about you in front of you in order to entertain others. "Funny" stories about when you tripped onstage at the school talent show or loudly reminding you of how you didn't make the soccer team aren't funny. This shows a lack of respect on your friend's part, which is a major ingredient missing in your friendship. Although there could be many reasons why they feel the need to share all your bad qualities with others, invading your privacy is a major red flag.

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4. You can't connect to your friend

It hurts looking back at old pictures and videos of the genuinely fun times you and your friend used to have together. Now, conversations feel forced, long silences occur, and you two often wind up talking about past experiences because there's nothing to connect you two in the present. Especially in the teenage years, friendships can fluctuate like the wind. One reason for this is everyone develops emotionally and mentally at different rates, due to genetics, and different situations in their personal lives. Age difference can also create quite a canyon when trying to connect with your friend. There could be situations and difficult moments that they can't relate to or understand if they are younger than you. It's hard to be yourself and open up to your friend if you get the sense they don't understand the problem or your feelings. However, this period may pass, and you two could be able to truly connect again. Although a difference in lack of emotional maturity is not your friend's fault, it's a different story if they are showing a lack of interest when you hang out.

Feeling lonely even when you are with your friend is a sign of a friendship needing repair. If they are texting others and scrolling through social media when you two are hanging out, or seem indifferent to what you are saying, your friend starts to seem distant. Although a maturity difference is something you and your friend may be able to get over with time, indifference is something you should consider bringing up in conversation. If you get the sense that you are the only one who cares or wants to hang out, there's no point in trying to connect with someone who doesn't want to connect back. If you're constantly inviting mutual friends to come along when you two hang out, that's probably a sign that you don't want to hang out one on one anymore.

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Ending things with a friend can be a very sad experience. However, if the friend is ultimately making you feel worse about yourself instead of better, it's time to reconsider your choices. Although leaving a friend can be hard, you'll be better off with someone who truly cares and supports you.

Adeline Yang

Adeline, known by friends and family as Addie, can be found reading, practicing her instruments, running or eating ice cream. She has two dogs, Ellie and Raegan!