“If you’re the smartest person in your group, then you need a new group” ~ Les Brown
Have you ever spent a weekend with friends only to leave with that deep empty feeling inside?
Where you were once best of buddies, now it seems like you’re strangers.
Are you at the butt end of every joke, prank, and sarcastic comment?
It’s not personal (even it if feels like it), you’ve simply changed and grown apart.
One of the problems is that as humans we don’t like change.
Change challenges what we know and causes us to become nervous and defensive.
So when you appear different to your group, it suddenly feels like you’re on your own walking the plank.
Find a new circle
Instead of clinging on reasoning that you’ve known each other since you were kids, or that you all went to college together, it’s time to bite the bullet and find a new ship.
We all have a deep longing for embrace and acceptance. We want to be liked. But when the pack turns on you, you need to turn your back on the pack.
Sticking with old friends who don’t care for you like they once did, is a sure fire way to fall into depression, desperate for a connection that is long lost.
Instead of trying to save a sinking ship, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and explore new avenues and relationships.
Look for these 5 telltale signs to see if it’s time you found a new group of friends.
1. You do all the legwork
Do you organize everything? Are you regularly inventing original and diverse ways to spend time?
When someone needs to take the lead, are you always the one to step up?
Are you continuously planning everything, organizing every trip or night out? If you are then it’s time for balance.
There is no I in Team
I cannot recall how many times I have arranged kick ass trips, events, and parties only for my friends to turn up, enjoy the pie, and then go home leaving me to clean up the mess.
Organization is a team effort. If you always do the heavy lifting, you’ll be left with a heavy heart that feels bitter and under appreciated.
If your friends are not taking the initiative to participate then it’s time to look for people who will.
Cut out the crap
A lion does not bother himself with sheep!
When there are people in your circle who aren’t pulling their weight, cut them loose and move on.
It sounds harsh but your head and your heart will thank you for it.
2. They keep letting you down
Have you ever built up a sweat in a bid to arrive on time only to watch a friend casually waltz down the road without a care in the world?
Frustrating isn’t it?
You’ve broken the 4-minute mile while your buddy thinks being late like Axel Rose is cool. This isn’t a Paris Hilton party!
What time is it Mr Wolf?
In Colombia, I made friends with a girl who kept turning up late to a workshop.
The girl didn’t think twice about being late every day until I asked her if she could arrive at the time scheduled instead of 20 minutes later.
Noticing that she was disturbing the group she promised that she would be on time and cleverly said:
“Don’t worry, I’ll be here tomorrow on English time.”
To which I replied:
“It’s not English time, it’s the TIME!”
Do you have any friends like this? People who think time stops for them?
The art of responding
Friends who ignore emails, or “forget” to return phone calls are making a strong statement.
Simply put, they don’t care enough about you to be reliable.
You hear excuse after excuse as you wait around like a lemon as if you don’t have better things to do.
Everyone is late occasionally.
We all forget to reply once in awhile.
But if you are the kind of person who goes the extra mile for your friends while that effort goes under the radar, then it’s time to look for people who actually value and respect you.
No time to hit reply, time to say goodbye!
3. You have different interests
At University I naturally became friends with the guys I shared dorms with. One of their big interests was soccer. I wasn’t the biggest soccer fan but wanted to fit in.
Several years, and hundreds of hours later, I realized that I was spending time doing something that wasn’t really me.
Are you really having fun?
The final straw came when we went on a month long road trip around Europe following the England soccer team as they played in the European Finals.
Although the trip was fun, I came back empty.
Realizing that we shared completely different interests was a pivotal moment.
There was nothing wrong with their interests, each to their own, but they weren’t mine.
Find a balance
If we all liked the same things life would be pretty mundane.
Sometimes you need to recognize and accept that your interests are wildly different from your friends.
When you notice that your friends love to stay in playing video games, and you love going out dancing, instead of forcing yourself to do the things you don’t enjoy, throw in the towel.
It’s not personal, there’s nothing wrong with videos games, but if their idea of fun is closing the curtains and playing Battlefield, whereas you get your rocks off by soaking up the sun, then it’s time to wave the white flag.
That being said, having different hobbies is fine. We aren’t clones, so look for balance.
Make your relationships a two-way thing.
4. It’s always about them
Recently I came back from a 2-year traveling odyssey around Intercontinental America. As you can imagine, it was the trip of a lifetime.
You might think that when I returned home, my friends would be desperate to know about the adventure.
Some were super interested, others, well, they just wanted to talk about their day at work.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m interested in what they’ve been up to, but what about their interest in what I’ve been up to?
How much interest your friends have in your life is a telling sign about how much they actually care about you.
Have you ever been bursting with excitement over a new job, car, or partner, desperate to celebrate the joy only for it to get brushed under the carpet?
Don’t take it to heart, it’s simply that your friends aren’t so invested in you. They are invested in themselves!
All take and no give
In ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’ author Dale Carnegie explains that if you want to make someone feel good, ask questions about ‘their’ life.
Let’s say you are at a BBQ and you are talking to a stranger. Eventually, you notice that unless you ask a question, they stare into oblivion. They have nothing to say unless you do the probing.
It wouldn’t be long before you moved on, right?
We need to adopt this approach with our friends and consider finding ones who offer a bit of give as well as take.
You’ll feel a happier and stronger connection if you spend time with people who show an interest in your life.
5. They don’t support you
A few years ago I moved to London and hooked up with a new girl. I thought she was awesome and was keen for my friends to meet her.
Instead of welcoming her into the group, they showed little support or desire to make a connection. It’s possible that they felt threatened, but if they really cared they would have welcomed her with open arms.
Plenty of other pals have formed a great friendship with my girlfriend, but for others, they weren’t open to the new relationship.
Don’t be blue about new
Have any of your friends rejected something or someone new you’ve brought to the table?
Maybe you bought a summer dress and instead of compliments, you received sniggers.
Or maybe you suggested trying a new restaurant only for it to fall on deaf ears.
Good friends are willing to try new things and will support you with new ventures.
If you come out and tell your friends that you’re gay, they might be surprised, but they’ll stick by you.
Or they’ll show their true colors!
Be careful though, don’t make the mistake of wanting your friends to be “Yes” people.
True friends won’t be afraid to disagree with you, but they’ll do it in a thoughtful way with only your best interests at heart.
When you have a new idea, make a big change, or do something out of the ordinary, look for friends who have your back, not ones who laugh behind it.
Let them go
Letting go of your friends can be a painful yet often necessary process.
If you want to grow, expand, and develop meaningful relationships, sometimes you need to make space and jump out of your comfort zone.
Make a decision to connect with like-minded people who support your goals and participate in your interests.
You won’t find too many like-minded individuals at a rave if crowded places and loud noises make you anxious.
The trick is to get out there and do the things you love by surrounding yourself with people who are already doing it.
Join a meetup or local course filled with people doing the things that interest you.
You’re different and it’s OK
Remember, it’s not about cutting everyone out of your life. It’s not about getting angry and falling out with your old friends.
Accept that you have different desires and dreams. If it seems like you are aliens, take another path.
You aren’t better or worse, you’re just different.
One in a million
Finally, acknowledge the precious few friends who support, contribute, and stick by you.
Work on developing the friendship and be open and honest with each other.
Friends come and go through life, but the ones worth keeping are like looking for glass needles in a haystack – you’ll need to put in some real effort to find them.