What to do When a Friendship Has Gone Bad

But she used to be so sweet!
But she used to be so sweet!


I have this tendency to hold on to things way past their expiration date. My husband teases that I refuse to throw out left-overs until there is a small forest growing on them. If I keep going at this rate, I will have planted more trees than God. Partially, I can’t stand waste. Whether left over lasagna from last week’s dinner party, or years of memories with a friendship-gone-stale, I can’t stand the thought of throwing away something I put so much hard work into. Unfortunately, not everything can be reduced, re-used, and recycled. The tricky part is figuring out when it is time to let go.

Most people would gladly let go of their problems, but few people are willing to give up the thing causing their problem. I hate mornings. Maybe I wouldn’t hate them so much if I could learn to go to sleep sometime before midnight, but I never do. I hit snooze half a dozen times, roll out of bed wondering if there will ever be a way to make-up for the hundreds of hours of sleep I’ve lost, and then pump myself full of caffeine so I can make it through the next ten hours without killing someone. Then comes night fall. I am now pumped so full of caffeine that I can’t sleep, so I have to take a sleeping pill to force my eyes closed, making it even harder to wake up the next day- causing me to drink even more caffeine the next morning, and so the cycle continues. I know why I can’t sleep; I’m just not willing to put down the Grande Skinny Caramel Macchiato quite yet. It’s like the devil in a cup. It tastes so good, but I know it’s really so bad.

Famous advice columnist, Ann Landers, once said, “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” A few years ago we lived in quaint neighborhood where the fences were low, the trees pressed up into the sky, and the lines between our neighbor’s yards were as invisible as the lines between our hearts. Beyond the chain link fence separating my family from the one directly behind us, we watched as our neighbor’s dog, Fido, took a turn for the worse. He was fifteen, ancient in dog years, but the way he held on made us believe that he loved his family more than heaven itself, because he fought so hard to stay with them. Fido started slowing down, not that he ever ran too fast, but towards the end the lack of sparkle in his light blue eyes seemed to say it all. Then we noticed that he was peeing blood, a very bad sign, even if you have no medical background once so ever. Day after day we watched Fido hobble painfully through the yard, fearfully prodding our friends to do what needed to be done, whatever that was. What lasted only a month, felt like an eternity. Cancer had ravaged the inside of Fido’s body. Surgery was expensive, painful, and came with no guarantees. The answer seemed obvious, Fido was in terrible pain, and time was running out, but we had no say in the matter, Fido was not our dog. Letting go meant losing a close friend, but it was the right thing to do- not just for them, but for Fido. Everyone was suffering; it was time to say good-bye.

I say good-bye every day. It is actually the first thing I say every morning. My husband leaves for work around 5:30am, while I am still dreaming beneath a sea of quilted comfort. But before he leaves, he always leans over my side of the bed, gently nudging my shoulder to let me know it’s time for him to go. I crack open my eye lids, revealing a tall handsome man in uniform bidding me farewell. “Good-bye,” I whisper, “I love you,” falling back asleep before he has a chance to respond. Not all good-bye’s are this easy. Sometimes we have to say good-bye to something we know isn’t going to come back. Sure, it will hurt, but in the long run letting go doesn’t hurt as much as holding on to something that went bad a long time ago. Whether you are questioning when to let go of old lasagna or old friends, the same rule still applies. What does your gut tell you? If it makes you feel bad, it is time to let go.


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Comments 10 comments

Emily Sparks 4 years ago

Thankyou for this advice. I am afraid I find it really hard to let go of someone, especially when I care for them a lot. I have had to go through this with the 3 people whom I cared the most about (besides my family of course). It was really hard, but once I made the resolve to let go, I could finally go through with it. Looking back on it, I think it hurts more to hold onto someone then to just let them go and move on. Anyway, enough of my experiences, good hub!


Christy Stewart profile image

Christy Stewart 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thanks Emily! So true. I often wonder, "Do I miss what we had? Or do I miss her?" We can treasure the memories made with good friends, holding onto what they were, rather than who they are today.


rmcleve profile image

rmcleve 4 years ago from Woodbridge, VA

Wow, this was beautiful! What a touching story.

I agree completely. For many people, it is very difficult to know when to let go. Although it is difficult for me as well, my herky-jerky military childhood has made it easier. I can spot an unhealthy relationship a mile away, but sometimes I can too quick to cut.

Many of my friends compliment me on this trait and come to me for advice. They come to me when they want confirmation that it's time to remove these people. It shouldn't be a rash decision, but you also need to take care of yourself.

If the other person brings you down, has disappointed you multiple times, or you feel unable to forgive them for some wrongdoing, it might be time. Imagine yourself removing the person from your life. I get a sense of calm when I realize it is time. If you feel panic or stress at the thought, you're not ready and need to think it over more. It doesn't mean they should stay; it just means you might regret the decision if you don't think it over fully.

Respect yourself. Follow your instinct. Reach towards peace and goodness.


Christy Stewart profile image

Christy Stewart 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you Rmcleve, and well said! Your criteria for waiting to remove the 'bad friend' gives people the freedom to wait until they are ready to gracefully let go rather than feeling like they have to 'surgically' remove That person from their heart.


theseus profile image

theseus 4 years ago from philippines

Christy Stewart,

Very good hub. Unfortunately, I also have that tendency to cling, not to material things really, but rather to memories. I let go of the person, yes, but not to memories. Thank you for sharing.


Rosalinem profile image

Rosalinem 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Very well written and so true. Voted up and awesome


Shanaaya profile image

Shanaaya 4 years ago from Mauritius

useful hub..its rly hard to let go.... n harder to understand how to let go...


Christy Stewart profile image

Christy Stewart 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you Rosalinem!


Christy Stewart profile image

Christy Stewart 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you Shanaaya. I think sometimes we have to step back and assess the damage. Happy Hubbing!


Mario 23 months ago

I know this comment is long after you pesotd this, but when I read this I knew I needed to comment. I completely disagree with you! What you are saying is making my blood boil . You are being completely hypocritical because you are basically telling people to shop from a breeder instead of adopt. And you are wrong about the shelters, most dogs in shelters are brought there because their owner can no longer care for them due to personal issues or they were abused. And if it happens that they do have behavioral problems it is most likely the owners fault because they didn't treat/train them right. You can't blame everything on the animals! Also shelters DO NOT push people into getting the wrong dog! Owners can browse the shelter and find one that they connect with. And they can pick a puppy OR an adult. I have never gone to a shelter where they try to persuade you to adopt an adult dog. Yes, some people feel that way because adult dogs lives a ticking away, but it is your choice whether you want an adult dog or not. I recused a dog from a shelter becaue she was abused and I had a wonderful 11 years with her. I never regretted getting her because I knew I changed her life and I knew she was happy from the day we got her until the day she died. If I didn't adopt her who knows what could have happened to her! When you adopt a dog you are saving a life. Plus this saying doesn't pertain to breeders anyway. It's about puppy mills and pet shops! Dogs in shelters are lonely and need love while breed dogs were being loved since they were puppies! So please anybody who is reading this, try to adopt your next dog because you will change their lives and they will definately change yours! Adopt don't shop!

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