Chances Are Good Your Friends Let You Down
Are you in your 20s? 30s? 40s? Are you single? Married? Do you have kids? No? Busy at work? Unemployed? Are you a living, breathing human being? If so, there’s a pretty good chance that your friends let you down at least once, but probably a lot more.
They’re the friends that couldn’t hang out any more after they started dating someone. They’re the friends that reply to texts 3 days later. Or never. They never answer when you call, and are only available when it’s convenient for them.
They’re the friends that always have a new explanation as to why they can’t hang out. They say they’ll help you move, but have better plans come up and then no call, no show, and don’t answer your call or texts.
I used to think that this was a phenomenon of entering your 30s. People have more serious and time-consuming jobs, they’re starting to get married and have kids, so of course they have less time for their friends. But no, that’s not true.
When I think about it, I saw the same stuff in college. You would plan something and people would say they’d “try” to make it. But really that just meant they’d see if any better plans came up between now and then. If nothing better came up and they were in the mood that day, they’d grace you with their presence. Hooray!
It’s maddening! What do you do when your friends let you down? How many times do you forgive them and show them grace?
Do you keep offering to hang out? Do you keep calling and texting? Or do you just give up on them? I’ve learned a few things from experience that have helped me to maintain my sanity.
What to Do When Friends Let You Down
- First, don’t take it personally. Nine times out of ten, it’s not you, it’s them. Chances are very good that the way they’re treating you is the same way that they treat all of their friends. Maybe they’re just rude. Maybe they’ve never been taught proper social skills and etiquette. They might have a lot on their plate right now that you don’t know about. Maybe they’re suffering from social anxiety or some other invisible illness. You don’t know every detail of even your best friend’s life. Don’t assume that the way they’re acting has something to do with you personally.
- Second, accept that people aren’t perfect. Humans aren’t capable of perfection at all times. If you hold someone to that standard, you are guaranteeing that they’ll let you down. Throw in some variables like being overwhelmed, tired, hormonal, or hungry at any given moment, and the chances of imperfection go way up! Yes, their imperfection in friendship feels personal to you when your friends let you down. But you’ve probably unintentionally hurt others in your less-than-perfect moments as well.
- Third, understand what you’re capable of controlling. You can’t control your friend. What you can control is how you allow them to impact you. Pastor Charles Swindoll famously said, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Is frustration over a delayed text or cancelled plans worth ruining your entire day? Is it worth raising your blood pressure or inducing anxiety? Probably not. Don’t allow others to control your happiness.
- Fourth, be the bigger person. This has always, always worked in my favor. Yes, it’s tempting to return poor behavior to someone dishing it out to you. But that (a) usually results in drama, and (b) excuses your friend’s behavior in a way. They’ll then have some ammo to throw back at you. “Yes, I did XYZ, but then you did it right back to me!” I have never once regretted exercising good character when someone has wronged me. I leave the situation with a clear conscious, people outside of the friendship have no issue with me, and my friend appreciates how I’ve reacted and often apologizes.
- Fifth, be a better friend to others. Make this a learning opportunity about the kind of friend that you want to be to others. If it makes you feel disliked by your friend when he’s never available to spend time together, make time for other friends when they invite you to hang out. If delayed text or email replies annoy you, be sure to be prompt in replying to others. Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” Don’t make their behavior a losing opportunity. Make it a learning opportunity.
- Finally, be open to making new friends. If your friend isn’t consistently in your life, you can either (a) leave that gap unfilled or partially filled by your absent friend, or (b) make a new friend. This doesn’t mean you have to cut the old friend out of your life. It just means you have that many more people to share life with. So be open to connecting with new friends. Strike up conversations with people that seem interesting in line at the grocery store, sitting next to you at church, or keeping their kids alive while you keep your kids alive at the pool. If talking to strangers isn’t your thing, then join a community club or a small group at your church.
Wrap It Up
When your friends let you down, it can make you feel disappointed, sad, or even angry. For your own sanity, don’t take it personally, and try to accept that people aren’t perfect. Understand what you’re capable of controlling. Be the bigger person and a better friend to others, and be open to making new friends.
People will let you down your entire life. Encouraging, right? But you are always in control of how others affect you. Enjoy the friendships that you have, but don’t allow your friends, or anyone besides yourself, to have the final say on your happiness.
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