Category Archives: Friendship

A word about why American politics are so f—-d up.

Warning: this post may be offensive to everyone on earth. Better to close it now and get it over with.
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, protests and riots have swept across the nation.  The new President has signed executive order after executive order, and the country is more polarized than ever.  The more I look at things, the more I can see the origins of a lot of these issues and it comes down to a saying by the late pro football coach Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Somewhere along the way, both the left and the right decided that their way was the not only the right way, but the only way to run things.  Instead of being open to new ideas and practicing moderation, extremism took root, aided by the absolutism made fertile by talk radio hosts, many of whom have turned out to be, themselves, outright hypocrites.  Both left and right pointed the finger at each other, decrying the other’s way as “evil” and “corrupt,” tossing about buzzwords like “income redistribution,” “globalism,” “market freedom” and “indoctrination.”

In the end, both sides are guilty of fomenting national discord for the sake of their own ambitions and avarice.  Both extremes are akin to fans of opposing teams in the Super Bowl who use the exact same offensive and defensive strategies.  The only differences are the cities represented, team colors and the one massive variable:  personalities.

This year’s Super Bowl is a great example. New England’s Tom Brady is a person who draws absolute reactions.  You either love him or you hate him.  You either admire his guile for exploiting lax rules enforcement with “deflategate,” or he is a cheater.  For Atlanta, you either love Matt Ryan for his stoicness in games and his ability to heave the ball downfield with stunning accuracy, or you hate him for his occasional post game showboating and arrogance or the demands of owner Arthur Blank.  Long story short, team affiliation and cults of personalities determine the fan base.

America’s political landscape is much the same way anymore.  It’s no longer about “what’s right for America.”  Rather, many citizens have become so fed up with the demands of either side, their rhetoric, and the approach to life their supporters take, the “win at all costs” attitude has permeated American politics.  You either love Donald Trump and what he espouses, or you loved Hillary Clinton.  Anyone who isn’t on the side of an extreme allegiance is a gutless moderate, or an independent who is immediately picked apart for which side of the ideological aisle they most identify with, regardless of if their heart is good.

We are no longer a nation which compromises for the good of all; we are a country obsessed with winning and being “right,” even if being right means may the good of the nation be damned, so long as our side prevails.  We no longer see shades of gray, or the empty spaces in between the argument where facts get lost in the name of victory.  It is now black and white terms:  good and evil, order and chaos, life and death, left and right….and zero in between allowed.

Both sides are guilty on this one.  The far right has pushed gun rights, the far left gun restriction.  The far right pushes free market and free will as the answer to everything, while the far left pushes government as the solution.  Both sides point the finger at each other when something goes wrong.  A great idea is only a great idea of our side came up with it.  If one side comes up with a truly great idea, the other side will do everything they can to stop it, and vice versa.  Why?  Because it wasn’t their idea. They can’t take credit, so they want no part of it.

This is where our nation has been taken. Compromise is death.  Bipartisanship is evil.  The left will destroy the rights of all.  The right will destroy the rights of all.  They are both the same, but they are different.  The left wants people to be lifted up, but so does the right.  The only difference is the means it happens and who at the very top benefits.  It’s old money family rivalries on a global scale.  The same monster with two heads and the same master manipulating both heads, in this case the people are the brains inside the heads, to fight each other.

But why?

Did it not occur to anyone here that if a world leader with access to nuclear weapons gets into a pissing match with another world leader with nuclear weapons in this age of “pride before prudence,” things could end VERY VERY BADLY? This is not the old Cold War era where world leaders understood the concept of mutual assured destruction. In this era where all that matters is winning, regardless of the cost, MAD isn’t really so crazy anymore.  It’s considered “acceptable risk.”

That said, here’s something think about:  all the protests and guns on earth won’t mean shit if there’s nothing left to protest or no one to kill. Yes, people are angry at each other and there are powerful people making a ton of money off pitting us against each other, but do you really think any of them give a damn about YOU when the mushroom clouds start rising? They already planned for this years ago.  At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, anyone who thinks those in position of true power haven’t found some way to gain from a world atomic holocaust are sadly mistaken.  They get to rebuild the world, only the way they see fit.

We can stop all this madness, but we need to focus on what we see happening, not the rhetoric being said or the memes being posted. Focus on what’s real instead of what is imagined. We still have a judicial system and civilian control of our military. I know people are saying we need to strike “just in case.” What is that going to accomplish? To all of you wanting a civil war to settle it all, do you really think that dying for SOMEONE ELSE’S CHECKBOOK is more important than the ideals espoused in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, because I guarantee you that most of your radio and television pundits and commentators, liberal or conservative, couldn’t remember the Bill of Rights, much less which state first ratified the constitution.  They CAN, however, remember their bank account number and safe combination, easily.

Those want to die, or are okay with friends and loved ones dying, to impose their worldview of America on everyone else, are EXACTLY the sort of danger George Washington spoke of in his farewell address. We need to take a long hard look in the mirror as a nation, stop worrying about who is offended by who said what and what injustice was committed by people long dead, and instead focus on the injustices being committed right now, against us by each other. We need to look at our current immigrants who may not have gotten here legally, but are law abiding otherwise and a great source of tax revenue.  We need to look at our homeless and see how much of it is true laziness and how much of it is actually mental illness which, once treated effectively, can unlock the minds of potential geniuses.  We need to feed our hungry children so they can feel compassion and grow into compassionate adult instead of bitter children in adult bodies vying for the power they never knew in youth.  We need to help our veterans who our leaders have come to view as similar to sanitary napkins; something to absorb political blood in photo ops and rituals, but disposed of once they’ve outlived their usefulness.  We need to address the reality that racial tensions exist not so much as the result of what happened over a century ago, but the mistrust formed between races because of old fears turned into old wives tales, which have in turn become cultural norms.
Finally we need to remember and accept that assimilation does not mean elimination.  A people can become law abiding productive citizens without being forced to abandon their cultures and customs.  Immigrants should have to learn our language, history and abide by our laws but should not be required to abandon their heritage and culture in their own homes.  

Yes, there will always be those who wish to harm us, but we should never do the work for them, and our current political climate is doing just that.  We are truly doing our enemies’ dirty work.  We can, we must, learn to listen to the better angels of our nature.  That is what a “more perfect union” is about, after all.

FRIENDSHIPS:  Healthy, and unhealthy things which end them

If only all friendships could be this strong

One of the hardest lessons we ever learn is that not every friend we regard as “close” or “best” will be there for us through everything.  You can wish upon a star, mash bloody fingertips together, and pinky swear all you want, the fact is people change, and that means friendships evolve or end.  Usually it is the latter.

There are a ton of theories and hierarchies about friendships and relationships, all of them based in some sort of study.  Here are just some observations of my study of the greatest teacher of all, life.

Most friends are seasonal:  Yes, some friendships can be lifelong, but most friendships only last a short amount of time.  Everything from professional associations to changing tastes can affect a friendship.  People often drift apart as time goes on, and it’s a natural rhythm, just like a season’s change.  Let them be them and you be you.

Money does end friendships:  Let’s be honest – money can and does affect friendships.   Those of means can do things and meet people others can’t.  They often have very different world views and when friends who started out the same financially end up in diametrically different positions, the relationship is often strained.  Resentment can and does often take root and, despite the best efforts friends often make, even the strongest relationships have failed when others plant the dread “why is he/she your friend? He’s not like us” seed in our minds.  The scene in Pretty in Pink where the one rich boy says to the other about Molly Ringwald’s character “she’s not from our world” is, sadly, quite accurate in many cases.

Politics often end friendships, too:  If there is anything this recent election cycle has proven, it’s that politics can fracture and end even the best friendships.   No amount of “besties” could save many relationships affected by vehemently oppositional opinions.  Liberals and conservatives often like to associate with like-minded folks and, as much as this is a detriment to our society as a whole, it is a reality which has destroyed many a good friendship.  In addition, politics often bring out the worst traits and prejudices in people, which also end friendships.

Romantic relationships are nasty things:  A boyfriend or girlfriend can end a relationship with a close friend faster than almost anything.  When you hear them whisper or say directly to you how they don’t like you, that’s a signal you’re on borrowed time.  Your friendship may reboot later but, chances are, with a massive loss of trust and vastly changed circumstances.

Unrequited feelings:  Well, this is a big one.  There are a lot of people who decry the “friend zone”, but it is based in a sound, common sense concept.  Some friendships develop into romantic relationships which are extremely healthy while others, not so much.  In same cases, there is an attraction in both sides but, for whatever reason, one of the friends is either afraid to pursue or wishes things to stay “status quo” because they are afraid to lose the friendship.  It’s time for a reality check:  a friendship with admitted romantic, unrequited feelings on one side are nearly impossible to maintain.  The emotional pain and damage caused can last for years and talking about other relationships only causes further trauma.  It is, actually, better to end the friendship than it is to keep it dragging along despite the wishes of either side.  This is the one instance where an ending of the friendship is usually in everyone’s best interest.  It’s all about growth, and one person cannot grow when they are pining for the other with no hope of anything in the future.  It is truly unfair to the one who has the feelings and if the one who doesn’t can’t see that, there’s even more profound issues which need to be addressed.

May your friendships all be rich and joyful and may you all enjoy a wonderful happy life.  Remember this one quote:  if you aren’t losing friends, you aren’t growing as a person.

A misconception about “friend-zoning,” and what can be done

I recently read a post about the dreaded “friend zone” and saw some genuinely caustic remarks from both men and women about they are tired of hearing this term.  One man said the old refrain of women are not “just machines you can put a few tokens in and hope sex comes out.”  While this is a truism, these gripes and calls to stop using this term and it’s more aggravating related “family zone” slang actually raises a counter argument few want to consider:

This isn’t about sex; it’s about a sense of frustration with people going after the “wrong” instead of the perceived “right.”

Let’s face it; we all make this mistake at some point.  There’s that man or woman who we befriend, get to know and, somehow, absolutely fall head over heels for and take a chance on pursuing it.  For whatever reason, the feeling just isn’t mutual.  Whether it is as basic as a lack of physical attraction, a deep seated fear of wrecking a good friendship, or something  much deeper which makes a relationship impossible, one thing is certain.  This situation absolutely sucks. 

It’s a perfect lesson of “life’s not fair,” but fairness is still essential in one regard, and this is a matter which many who are tired of hearing the term “friendzone” don’t want to admit.

It’s not about sex; it’s about feelings.

Let’s be real; if a so-called “friend zone” situation was just about sex, it wouldn’t hurt near as much.  It would be a mere ego bruise; yes, a deep one in some cases, but still just ego.  The reason these situations hurt is that emotions, however misguided, have been invested.  Yes, said emotions can border on obsession, and sometimes people have a right to be nervous about the person whose unreturned affections have become stronger than expected, but in most cases, the person who was “relegated” figures out a way to deal with it, even if that means being whiny about it or removing themselves from their beloved life for a while.  Pop culture can spin it all they want; a genuinely painful friend zone experience is not about sex.  Making it about sex is little more than a tacit dismissal of the validity of someone’s feelings, and often that’s a defense mechanism to assuage guilt or anger at oneself.

Sorry to say it, but we all do that.  If you need proof, just remember how badly you bad mouthed that ex from your last really bad breakup.  You likely bitched about him or her to your buddies or girlfriends.  They were the devil incarnate.  Your BFF was likely ready to throat punch them when it was all said and done but, eventually, you burned through those emotions like a fire in a paper factory.  It’s human nature and everyone who’s been hurt does it.

There is, however, a huge difference between a “friend zone” and a break up.  In a breakup, there was a relationship of some sort which had a romantic element.  In a “friend zone,” somehow a seed of expectation was planted in the mind of the heartbroken.  That expectation is never realized, and it causes an emotional reaction due to rejection.  Whether it was justified by the actions of their beloved or a delusion of sorts, the heartbreak is the direct result of this unrealized expectation.  There is one other thing we all need to face (those who have suffered the friend zone bug recently really should pay attention here):  being “friend zoned” is, at a fundamental level, rejection.  No amount of rationalization or justification can dismiss this.  Still, rather than statement of moral judgment, it is simply defining the core issue, that many friendzone heartbreaks are actually not the result of the lack of attraction, but a much deeper issue – the insecurities triggered by this feeling of rejection. 

For those of you tired of feeling “judged” for “friendzoning” someone, it’s time to face an uncomfortable truth:  there are expectations leading to the feelings of rejection which can, in fact, be created by the person doing the rejecting.  Regardless of how much one denies “leading them on,” sometimes a behavior by the rejecting person creates the expectation, however unintentional .  It could be something as simple as habitually flirtatious behavior, or something as easily misread as an invitation to dinner.  That seed of expectation, if identified early, can be corrected to preserve the friendship prevent an awkward or painful situation.  One other thing to consider; those are well aware of their behaviors, whether it is the rejected or the one rejecting,  tend to become most defensive when called out about it.  This is not to say someone should apologize, but a means to understand the “why” of the heartbroken – granted, some folks have conditioned  themselves, out of necessitiy, to be dispassionate towards those whose hearts they break, but that comes with this territory.

Let’s be clear about one thing before going any further; this is not giving those who disrespect rejection a free pass.  Being hurt is one thing; griping to friends or family is natural and a part of life, but to retaliate in any way which causes physical harm to the rejecting party, or causes them fear of such, is not acceptable.  Those who engage in this sort of behavior need to seek immediate help.  Those who are heartbroken and considering self harm as from rejection also need to seek help.

Regardless of what people may think, those who choose to cope by talking to friends and family, even if it means complaining about the situation, or the person involved, are doing something which is quite healthy.  It is a means of humanizing the person for whom an unhealthy or unrealistic expectation was centered around.  Sometimes it means distance and isolation from that friend, but one fact remains, and it’s one which people who are tired of hearing this term need to come to grips with; a real “friendzoning” is not about sex, but genuine heartbreak.  Sadly, in the extreme case, the friendship must be ended for both parties own good.

To those who have been on the “zoning” end, do you and your friend a few favors, especially if you truly respect them and your friendship.  Give yourselves both time and healthy space to heal.  Show you care, but be detached enough that you can explain things in a healthy, compassionate way which doesn’t reopen the wound.  If that person can’t get you out of their head, encourage them to seek help or, at the least, ask mutual friends to help out.  Also, be gentle, understanding and forgiving.  That friend is suffering a deep wound, and it often takes a long time to heal because their confidence has been shattered.  Above all, never talk to them about your romantic or sex life.  That’s literally akin to giving a suicidal person a loaded gun with the safety removed.  Let them heal, be supportive (even if at a distance) and please remember the prime rule of karma; what goes around does come around. You’d want that friend to be just as caring and tender with you, right?

I’m no expert.  Just speaking from experience, and I hope this helped out a few folks who are either suffering with rejection to struggling with the “why me” question about how someone can feel that way about you when you don’t feel the same way.  The heart wants what it wants but, fortunately, that feeling is often fleeting, even if that fleeting moment lasts longer than expected.  Remember, what you put out is what you get back.  If you put out respect, caring and tenderness, it ultimately gets returned.

Bentley’s first Sunday strip!

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To my readers and fans:

Bentley Northwood is a character I came up with out of thin air.  His character model is similar to John Penalli, star of The Condors, Love & Marriage and the extremely short lived Bonfire Quartet.  I decided to retire him and go in a radically different direction, hoping my comic strip game would come back.  Here’s a little info about Bentley Northwood:

  • He’s a 40 something bartender who went to college for a psychology degree but never finished.  He’s not sure if he wants to because he enjoys his work.
  • He was in a very short lived marriage, which he rarely references but when he does, it will be very relevant – no, you will not see his wife but I will pop in an occasional Easter Egg.
  • He considers himself a bit of a know-it-all, but his patrons appreciate his knowledge.
  • His closest two friends are Dr. Catalina “Cat” Toriano (originally “Tori” from Bonfire Quartet, but I imported her idea and modified it a slight bit) and Jimmy Glover, shown in the big panel here.
  • Cat and Bentley have an interesting history, but are nothing more than “besties.”
  • Bentley has several secrets nobody knows about, including a secret love of his, but that will be revealed over time (HINT:  It is NOT Cat).
  • Speaking of Cat, Bentley’s name was actually taken from my orange tabby cat, and that’s also why Bentley’s hair is almost a “carrot top” red.  His character is a tribute to my oldest cat.

When a World Series loss becomes a profound personal win

Every once in a while, you have one of those moments that’s a real eye opener.  Tonight was one of those moments.  I was watching the World Series and it was the seventh inning.  I was rooting for the Indians and they were losing.  Of course this brought a flood of negative memories to the surface.

I had moved to Cleveland in 1997 when I first got married.  I had run from people and places as much as I was running to someone.  I had been marginalized, or I felt that way, anyway.  I also felt abandoned, left out and completely alone.  Those I cared for had mostly gone their separate ways, were dealing with new relationships or jobs, and I felt like the last man on the battlefield.   It was as though life was passing me by, and I was squandering opportunity after opportunity.  It felt like the universe was completely against me, and it just rather I go away. 

More important, I was deeply, deeply lonely.  I’ll spare the details of that final year in person at my college, but suffice it to say my marriage was the result of a broken heart (from many factors, not just one or two) and a severe loneliness combined with an “I don’t care” attitude.  Tonight, with every strikeout the Indians took, with every run the Cubs scored, those feelings of failure and isolation flooded me more. It felt like I was reliving that awful time in my life, full of heartbreak and emotional devastation, all over again.  By the seventh inning it was 6-3, Cubs winning.

The feelings between 1997, when the Indians last made the series and lost, and now span everything from depression and defeat to anger and rage.  I made a great many mistakes in those intervening years, and hurt too many people to list.  Honestly, I would just as soon forget much of the last twenty years ever happened, aside from a few brief times, which maybe total to about five years in all.  It hasn’t been rosy, peachy or sugary sweet.  But then again, marriage is never that way – it’s real, gritty, down dirty and often fucking painful as hell.

Along the way, I did a lot of things I’m not proud of.  I won’t go into detail but let’s just put it this way:  if I could do it all over again, i either would have left my marriage six months in and spared us the trauma, or my time on this earth would have ended around December 1997.  As it stands, suicide had been considered several times over the years, but I always backed away.  The pain was great, but my fear of what may – or may not – lay beyond gave me pause.  Still, I honestly felt like I had missed out on so much.  I spent much of my twenties just surviving, my thirties attempting to make up for my foolishness in my twenties only to repeat the cycle years later.  I never had a truly “wild” or “finding myself” phase.  It was like I never learned from my mistakes.  I was afraid of being alone and more afraid of what my family and friends would think.

As I saw the Indians losing and felt all those awful memories hitting me, I was wondering if it was related to the people and places of that time, and then I realized, after I started writing, it was actually how I felt about myself.  I felt like I was a total failure in so many ways, but I really wasn’t.  It was a feeling of being incomplete because of my college education and my debt load and never truly finding a career fit, along with living in the past trying to relieve past glories and correct old defeats.  I was letting other rather irrelevant things symbolize an entire narrative, and it was tearing me apart.

My furry little lifesaver, Annabelle.

I started to realize that this world had a plan for me, and that this world was beautiful, when my cat Annabelle came up to me with a shoelace and wanted to play.  I asked myself how such a beautiful, gentle creature could love someone like me.  But she meowed and wanted daddy to play with her.  That’s when I realized it:  she loves me for me, the real me.  Once that hit me, I began to feel better and cheered up a little bit.  The world seemed a bit less cruel. The mean spiritedness, coated in the euphemisms of “getting real” and “no sugar coating,” seemed to just not matter.  Even the Indians losing didn’t matter; what I cared about was this sweet cat playing with her daddy, a deeply flawed and failed man she somehow found the ability to see the best in.  At that very moment, the World Series didn’t matter anymore.  Those feelings of loss, humiliation, and ostracism in my final days in college, and like I was a total failure my two years in Cleveland, evaporated as I pulled the shoelace Annabelle held in her teeth.  The World Series, at that moment, And truly was just a game.  My cat, at that moment, was my world, and a beautiful, colorful one at that.  Then something else began to overcome me, a realization of sorts.

The gears of my life which were stuck in place for so very very long we finally, at long last, beginning to turn again.  I was feeling myself, after 20 years of feeling stuck in the past and dining on losses of all sorts, moving forward!

It’s very easy for us all to get caught up in our own shit and not care about anyone else.  It’s extremely easy to give up on certain family and friends because they don’t fit in a nice, neat little box that is our life narrative.  It’s easier still to give up on everything and just not care about people and become bitter and angry.  It’s a defense mechanism we have and for some of us, it’s the only thing we can hold onto because life has dealt us one cruel blow after another.  Even if a person right now doesn’t seem to have too many issues, we have no idea how childhood problems or abuse or family issues or even genetics contributed to their current state of mind.  Tonight I recognized a feeling, accepted it for what it was and, by writing this blog, healed just a little.  Still, it was incredibly empowering to do so, and I have a sweet little calico cat to thank for helping me do it.

And, by the way, the Indians lost to the Cubs in 10 innings, after a rain delay, and that’s okay.  They got further than 15 other teams in the American League, and I’m further ahead now that I identified a trigger and effectively accepted it.  I’d call that a “win-win.”

That little imp that causes so much pain

It has become more common than ever before for people to assume the worst in each other. It’s easy to think that, because someone disagrees with you, that makes said person the devil incarnate. One area we see this happening is when friendships begin to disintegrate over simple misunderstandings.

The human heart is a funny thing and ego plays a huge part in it. Too often we allow our feelings to get the better of us not because it’s what we know in our heart is the right thing to do, but because that devilish little angel sitting on our shoulders is saying “who cares what they think, this is about you! You! You! You!” That nasty imp just loves to stir up trouble, doesn’t it? Here’s a little shocker for you, and you might not like this.

That imp isn’t the devil – it’s your shadow side coming out.

There’s an old saying that God created good and evil to work to his own end. Well, if that’s true, doesn’t that mean that evil is something the Almighty uses to serve an end? Evil is described by Obi Wan Kenobi as being seen from “a certain point of view.” So, if we go with that bit of Star Wars canon, much of our problems depend greatly on our point of view. Which brings us back around to friendship.

It’s easy to be “done” with friends for major things, and rightfully so. Unpaid debts, property theft, disregard for ones person all perfectly valid reasons to be done. After that, it comes back to point of view. If someone talks about you to another friend and you get wind of it and are offended, think about how many times you did that with others. If you are one who believes in karma, this is karma doing its job. If you love someone only to have your heart broken, think back to whose heart you’ve broken. You’ll find correlations at almost every point.

Of course, that’s when the shadow side likes to come out scream me, me, me, me, ME! It’s all about ME!

Our shadow sides like to think they are justified when they treat people, especially friends and family, like crap. Who do they think they are, telling us how to live our life? Who are they to tell us who is best for us? What right do they have suggesting courses of action? It’s all about me.

Honestly, if you really value their input, they have every right in the word to offer input, but no right to dictate. If they dictate, then you can be done with them. If they suggest or explain, listening does go a long way to heal a rift.

Why do I say this? Because we all make that mistake and we look back and wish we could throttle that little imp. I wish I could tell mine where to go then, but I had to suffer profound loss to learn. I only hope those whose friendships I’ve lost because of that side of me coming out to play will one day forgive me. It was not an easy lesson to learn.

Of course profound learning comes from profound pain.

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Change and Friendships: Signs the two are no longer compatible

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A quote nobody wants to experience, but as with life, it does happen.

Life is about change.  We all change, and change brings with it beginnings and endings.  To that end, we all experience that moment where we have to decide whether or not to stay friends with someone.  It’s a gut-wrenching, heart-shattering moment when we finally have to accept the fact that someone we used to be “ride or die” with is no longer the same person we once knew.  New associations, co-workers, even romantic involvements change us, and it changes our outlooks and opinions.  Some friendships can survive, while others just don’t have the strength to do so.  Not everyone sees eye to eye on what friendship is over the long haul, not everyone can balance conflicting emotions over friends, and not everyone wants to keep the same circle of friends.

While all friends fight, some fights are a clear indicator of fissures, fractures within the relationship which will only grow with time, and drive those individuals so far apart there is no way for the relationship to recover.  Some friends stop talking for a time for whatever reason, but they do come back together and make up.  Unfortunately, there are those who do not want to be around when times are really tough; some have good reasons for that (personal trauma resurfacing), while others simply don’t care because, to them, you are either not interesting or don’t fit their expectation of a friend.  Don’t fall for the notion of “low maintenance friends,” either; even the least-involved friends find time to check on someone going through a dark night or bad run.  Here are some warning signs that it may be time to push the eject button on a friendship, no matter how long it’s lasted.

  1. They make excuses for not talking to you. Do not confuse this with “ghosting,” which is a passive-aggressive cardinal sin which should result in an immediate ending of the friendship.  Being busy with kids or a new marriage, or more responsibilities on the job is one thing. . This is in reference to people who decide to not give you any reason for why they are not talking to you beyond the classic “I’m busy” cover.  In this age of digital interconnection and smartphones, that excuse should be less plausible than ever.  When that happens, ask yourself if you are really that important to them.  Chances are, you aren’t.
  2. They only make time for you when they can get something out of it. A friend who wants to talk to you only for advice, or to get your feedback on a decision, or wants to brag about their latest bedroom conquest is not the sort of friend you really need.  Now, if in between those moments they ask how you are doing, offer a great new place to get a bite to eat, share a joke or two, or offer to help you with a problem in your life, that’s a true friend.  Sometimes, they will give you a little nibble of that to get what they want.  The ratio is often two-to-one in their favor, or worse.  The moment you start having difficulties in life and lean on them, however, they run like hell.  This goes for family too.
  3. They belittle your beliefs or you as a person. This is different from “knocking some sense into you.”  Angry responses to your own passive-aggressive or attention getting behavior is one thing – that’s healthy and what a real friend does.  It’s the ones who resort to name calling out of “love,” who completely and aggressively invalidate something you believe in – whether it is political or spiritual – and who, worse still, justify their behavior as “telling it like it is” who do not deserve your time.  A true friend will smack you upside the head, tell you to “get a grip,” even block you for a while on social media to make a point, but will do so with an prefacing explanation (if you don’t pay attention to the explanation, that’s your own fault).  What they won’t do is call you names or act “tough” with you to make their point.  That’s bullying and it’s never acceptable.  Talk to a friend who sees your real value, even if you are acting like a fool or lovesick idiot.
  4. They don’t respect your reasoning to stay away. If you are in a situation where you like a friend as more than a friend and need some time for distance because you don’t want to create an issue because you feel it brewing, that’s healthy.  If you attempt to communicate it that way, a friend will respect it – they may not like it and take you to task for it, but they will respect it and disagree respectfully.  If they try to shift blame and say it’s all your fault and they are blameless, it’s time to take a long look at the relationship and ask if it’s really just you who is the problem – remember, all relationships, friendships especially, are two way streets.  Friends who expect things to operate in “one way” fashion have issues you can’t possibly help them with.  Let them go and find their way.
  5. It’s no longer a happy friendship. This is critical.  Friendships are there to build each other up and make each other feel better.  A friend whose attitude brings you down, or who has an attitude towards you in which you feel drained and depressed afterwards is not a friend you need.  That is a person who “collects” friends and hangs onto them like old toys in a cabinet.  Eventually you have to decide if that friend is worth keeping, that the relationship is salvageable, or if you need to walk away for your own sake.  Good rule of thumb; if you have tried to express your feelings and concerns and you worry they will blow up at you or end the friendship as a result, it’s probably a friendship which has outlived its shelf life, and it’s time to move on.

Yes, loss is painful, and it’s a part of life.  We can’t stay the same because life is not static.  What we can do is keep the good times, release the bad (you never really forget it, the human brain and heart are kinda funny that way), and focus on the horizon.  Not everyone will feel the same way about friendship as you will, and many people will not agree with these points because, frankly, everyone has different expectations of what friendship is all about.  Those who do understand you, stand by you, and are the “ride or die” types will completely understand how you tick.  They will even forgive and forget the occasional transgression, but they will always be there when things get hot or dark, and will give you a swift kick to the head when you need it, but do it in a way where you aren’t left asking yourself “why did they do that and just walk away?”  Bear in mind, the company we keep often determines who we keep as friends.  You can say “nobody controls me” all you want – in the end, who we associate with does influence who keep as friends some folks just don’t like the idea of losing a bunch of friends to stay loyal to the one.

That’s the difference between a healthy friendship and one which has been on life support a little too long.  Sometimes, the only thing you can do is pull the plug, mourn, and wake to a new day with friends who are there every day.