Friendship Group Dynamics; 8 Signs that are telling you Enough is Enough
Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Paula Jones (United Kingdom).
Friendship groups are rife with politics and the potential to turn nasty. When you put a group of people together, it’s easy to get along on a superficial level, but once real personalities start to emerge, it can become difficult to maintain a friendship, particularly when all you initially have in common is one interest, a group you all attend, a business type, or whatever.
But I want to let you into a secret. It’s okay to not be part of this.
If you know your friendships are dying then there are lots of ways to break contact, but it needs to be done. Suddenly finding yourself ostracized is very unpleasant and an unhappy place to be, particularly when you did not realize there was anything wrong. And, it does not matter how old we get. We are talked about, ostracized, bitched about; it does not change. My mum lives in sheltered housing for the elderly where gossip is rife; I have been in the position where my “friends”, and yes, I use the term loosely, have dumped me.
You know when it doesn’t feel right; and yet we have so much invested in these people, and a shared history, that it can feel really difficult to let go at times. And if you are the one who has been pushed out, it hurts. Literally. Social exclusion activates the pain centers in the brain, so it truly is painful, and we grieve for what we’ve lost. Because of the pain, it can make the situation a bit foggy; have you really lost something when you’ve been pushed out?
Perhaps, instead, we would be better off jumping. After all, do you need the brain drain of all that negativity? There are people out there who really know you, and still, think you’re great. So they are your real friends, right?
Here are the things to watch out for that tells you the dynamics of your friendship group have changed and it’s time to move on:
- Bitchiness; when the coven is starting to gather and gossip about other people, and it’s making you feel really uncomfortable, it’s a sign that things are on the move. Gossip is harmful not just to the subject, but to the participants. Listen to your gut feeling on this, and start to take a step back from it.
- Isolation; when friends disapprove of your friendship choices, warning bells should start ringing. We are allowed to make our own choices; they have no right to move you away from the social circles you have constructed for yourself.
- Put downs; remember, a put down is never about you, it’s always about them.
- The silent treatment; oh come on, are we in nursery school? If I wanted the silent treatment, I’d have stayed married to the ex.
- You do not feel good about yourself after you have been in their company; says it all, really…
- Give and take; you give, they take; we all know people like this, to some degree; but it’s harsh when it’s constant and your exciting news NEVER gets a look in, isn’t it?
- Imitation; no, it’s not the sincerest form of flattery. It’s annoying, it’s disrespectful, and it is, above all, cheating. When a friend does this to you, particularly if it’s with your business or your job, it feels like it negates your hard work. It does not really, but it’s difficult to understand how a “friend” can do this.
- Passive resistance; you know what I mean; when you help out, give advice, etc., and they are deeply unhelpful in return….
There is a theory of group dynamics that shows us that when we get together in a group of people, we’re all jostling for position. Who’s going to be the Alpha in the group, who tags along, who just happily gets on with it. We settle into the roles that we have fought for, all get along for a while, and then the cracks start to show when we are getting on with being ourselves.
In this situation, the thing to do is to be an adult about this. Unfortunately, Facebook means it’s all to easy to “unfriend” (ever had someone put themselves on the “maybe” list for a party you were having, from the “attending” list? Ouch….) without ever having to make contact, and this seems to permeate through 21st Century life now. We do not break up properly. But if your friendships are doing you harm, it’s ok to say it. They’ll get over it, and then so will you.
The dynamics of the school playground have a tendency to stay with us when we reach adulthood and have groups of pals who form through similar mechanics; the only difference is we do not march up to someone and offer them the first go in your bag of Jelly Tots.
So what do you do? Do you say goodbye? Or does a really toxic situation develop where people have simply shoved out of the group while the rest close ranks?
Paula Jones (United Kingdom)
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