Good friends are hard to come by. And keeping good friendships over the long haul can be even more difficult. As you go through life, you might wonder why you don’t have as many friends as you used to.
And to be sure, some relationships naturally end when your path goes a different direction from someone else’s. They move away. You graduate college. Your interests and schedules no longer align. And all of that’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to see some relationships only last for a season.
There are also instances where someone in your life genuinely lets you down or betrays you. When a relationship ends that way, it’s deeply hurtful and you know exactly why it did.
But then there are those other times–when almost inexplicably, good friendships just seem to end. Why is that?
Some of it may have to do with the other person. In fact, a great deal of it may be due to them. But it’s important to own your part in the failure of a friendship. And if we want our relationships to thrive, we need to be intentional about them.
So in case you were wondering, here are 4 ways to lose friends before you know it.
1. Take more than you give.
One of the quickest ways to lose friends is to always think of yourself. Take more than you give. Expect that your friend is always going to pick up the phone or help you out in a time of need, but think twice when they ask you to return the favor.
While it’s never good to keep score in any relationship, people tend to notice when they are habitually taken advantage of. Good relationships are about a healthy give and take–reciprocity. If all you do is take, then you’re setting your friendships up for failure.
Here are some signs you’re giving more than you’re taking.
Your friend has taken off work and helped you move three times, but you’ve always been busy when they needed an extra hand.
Your friend is always picking up the check when you go out to eat.
Your friend has been to more of your kids’ recitals and sports games than you have been to theirs.
Your friend is always the one to initiate and plan a fun time together.
In order to keep yourself from becoming a taker more than a giver, always bear in mind the words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
If you’re always thinking of the other person as better than yourself, then you will always have thriving friendships.
2. Don’t invest in deepening your relationships.
You can’t expect to have deep relationships if you only invest in them shallowly. If you never take the time to learn your friend’s story and to share yours with them, then you won’t know how to be there for each other.
So be intentional about asking your friends good questions and listening to what they have to say. Walk alongside them in life and be reliably supportive to them. Allow your conversations to go deeper than the cursory version of, “How are you doing?”
In many ways, the success of your life is less dependent on what you do individually as it is on who you choose to surround yourself with. This is ancient wisdom that rings true today.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
Commit to being that friend that sticks closer than a brother or sister. Be invested in the success of your friends’ lives. If you do, you’ll find that they’ll often be just as supportive toward you.
3. Lack self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a key component to building and maintaining thriving relationships.
Because if you think you’re coming across as caring and thoughtful, but everyone else says you’re nosy and bossy, your relationships are probably not built to last. And if you would describe yourself as passionate, but those around you just say that you’re always angry, they might start avoiding you without you realizing why.
We tend to view our own actions in light of our good intentions. And we might not realize that what we’re intending to convey with our words and actions may be completely lost on the people receiving them.
The Proverbs remind us that how we view our own actions isn’t always as accurate as we would have hoped.
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.”
It’s been said that self awareness isn’t a gift that you can give yourself. You have to receive it from others.
So try to be aware of how you might be coming across. Listen to what your friends tell you about how they’re receiving you. Allow friends to speak truth about you and ask good followup questions. And be sure that you’re taking steps to accommodate others so that you’re making them feel seen, heard, and loved.
We tend to view our own actions in light of our good intentions. And we might not realize that what we're intending to convey may be completely different than what's actually coming across. Click To Tweet
4. Don’t be there for the big moments.
When it comes to the big moments of life, whether they are moments of pain or celebration, you always remember who was there for you. Unfortunately, you also remember who wasn’t. And when you’re inexplicably absent from big moments, it tarnishes your relationships.
And that’s because a friendship is an implicit agreement that you and your friend will be there for one another, whatever life brings. And this is the kind of relationships we were built to have.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul encourages followers of Jesus to be there for each other through thick and thin.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
At the end of the day, what matters most is that you’re there for your friends. To laugh and celebrate with them when they experience victory. And to cry with them and sit with them in their pain when tragedy strikes.
Be willing to lay your life down for your friends.
Jesus once told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And it’s a truth that he upheld when he gave his life for us on the cross. That’s the example of friendship he’s given us.
So be the kind of person who lays down their life for their friends. If you do, you’ll begin to engender loyalty among the people in your life. And when the time comes when you truly need a friend, you’ll have plenty.