We’ve all had that friend.
The friend who has been in your life for a very long time and, if we are being honest, might not still be the friend she was way back when you met her. Maybe you met in your crazy 20s and have grown apart as you’ve matured into 30-somethings.
You might have met her at a playgroup when your tots were small and bonded over spit-up, sippy cups and breast leakage. But, now your kids are in kindergarten and your boobs don’t leak like they used to, so you don’t call her as often.
Or, maybe you met her before you both had kids, before you knew what kind of mom choices she’d make. Now, as you watch her parent her monsters badly, you are fairly certain you’d rather be in a room with 12 people scraping their nails down chalkboards instead of a playdate at her house.
Whatever the circumstances behind the time you met, there are friendships that just either fade off into the sunset or have to be reevaluated. Sometimes, you have to just pull an Elsa and let ‘em go.
But, how can you tell if you and your friend are just out of sync right now? What if you are just on a “Ross and Rachel” break and you’ll get back together, stronger than ever? What if you pull the plug on a relationship that can and should be resuscitated?
How do you know it’s time to pull the plug on that seemingly lifelong friendship?
Ask yourself these five questions before ending a friendship:
1. When was the last time you had real fun together?
If the answer to this question is, “Well, it has to be that time 10 years ago when we went to that club and conned the bouncer into letting us in for free only to find out it was a over-70 strip club,” you might need to reevaluate where you are in your friendship (and frankly, your choice of bars, if I’m being honest). When was the last time you and this friend made time to hang out together, even if it was just an hour carved out for a phone call to catch up? When was the last time you tipped a glass of wine to each other in the same room? If it was five years ago, your friendship might be on its last legs.
2. How did you hear her latest ‘Big News’ announcement?
The answer to this question can be very telling. Did she just announce she’s pregnant in your kitchen while holding the dipstick as you screamed together? Did you get a call in the grocery store as she yammered into the phone that she got the job she’d been hoping for? Or, did you find out she’s getting a divorce when she changed her marital status on Facebook? If you are consistently hearing news of your friend from the desk clerk at your gym, you might need to come to grips with the fact that you are not as close as you used to be.
3. How do you feel when you hear her name?
Admit it. There are people whom you’ve befriended over the years who have changed dramatically. Friends you once thought you could bare your soul to have chipped away at the veneer of your friendship by lying or being unkind to you. But, because you once were close, you hang on to the hope that they’ll be “them” again someday, the friend you met years ago. With all the chips in the friendship lacquer, does her name make you tense when someone suggests you get together? Do you roll your eyes when you see her in the grocery store and dart down a different aisle?
I hate to break it to you: If they’ve changed, you’ve changed too. Be honest with yourself and if you realize that the cracks have become the Grand Canyon, move on, sister.
4. If you met her in person, would you still be friends with her?
In this new age of the interwebs, Facetime, texting, Skyping and everything-ing, it is very easy to make “friends” online. Whether for networking purposes, shared interests, or advice forums, it’s easy to feel like you have more friends in your computer than out of it. As a blogger, my list of “in the computer” friends is quite extensive, but I often remind myself that I know very little about their daily lives, other than what I see online. In fact, recently, I found myself in an argument with an online “friend” that ended in unfriending, blocking and petty ugliness. But, when all was said and done, I realized an “out of the computer” friend wouldn’t hit delete and her calling me a troll was a sign that we were not cyber besties. Blog and learn, I guess.
5. Is she one of your ‘Left-Hand Friends’?
When I’d suffer the wrath of mean girls in my youth, my mom would always tell me that while acquaintances come and go, you will be able to count the number of real friends in your life on your left hand. These are the friends who would be halfway to their car keys and coat when they answer your crisis call at 3 a.m. The friends who instinctively show up at your door with vodka and chocolate after the worst day of your life. The friends who have seen you at your drunkest in college and never utter a word to your kids. The Left-Hand Friends are the friends you never have to question. Rule of thumb: If you have to ask if they are still a Left-Hand Friend, they aren’t, and it’s time to get your Elsa on.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to come to terms with a friendship gone by. While it can be sad and painful, it’s a reality that many of us avoid, because being honest about the end of a friendship feels like admitting to defeat—of losing a battle—and having to collect all your marbles and go home can be hard to do. Sometimes, though, you have to let former friends go in order to hold the important Left-Hand ones close.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few phone calls to make and cocktails to pour, ahem.
This post originally appeared on LifetimeMoms.