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You No Longer Have a Friend in Me – When and How You Should End a Friendship

Photo credit:  woodleywonderworks

Goodbye (AttributionRequired)When we hear someone say they are, “ending a relationship” we assume this to mean the person is breaking up with their significant other.  However, “ending a relationship” could also mean severing ties with a friend.  Friendships can be challenging to maintain especially over extended periods of time.  Life provides many excuses for a friendship to end: you move far away from one another, you work more, you have more responsibilities just to name a few. But what about those friendships for which you deliberately choose to walk away? When should you end the friendship? How do you end it?

Ending a friendship is not easy, but coming to that decision requires careful consideration, especially if you have been friends for a long time.

When should you end a friendship?

While it is entirely up to you if and when you decide to sever ties with a friend, there are several junctures where the choice to walk away may be obvious.

  • You can’t trust them. Your friend has done something to betray you whether it was talking about you behind your back, telling your personal stories, hitting on or becoming romantically involved with your significant other are just some examples of how trust can be broken.
  • You feel self-conscious when around them. Your friend consistently puts you down or make snide remarks about your appearance, behavior, or any other aspect that makes you feel bad about yourself.
  • You recognize the friendship is one-sided. You’re always the one making an effort to get together or connect. Or, your friend only reaches out to you during times when they need something, but they don’t reciprocate for you. Then you are likely in a one-sided friendship.
  • You no longer have anything in common. You grow up, develop different interests, make other friends. It is a part of life.

How do you address this dilemma?

  1. Make sure it is what you want. Rekindling a friendship after you have explicitly made a point of ending it with your friend will be most difficult, therefore, it is important that you are absolutely sure it is what you want. Think about what you will lose by cutting ties with your friend and if the loss is worth it. Consider whether mutual friends will be impacted by this decision. Be mindful if you are still angry about what has occurred, making rash decisions in the heat of the moment most often never turns out well.
  2. Silently Part Ways. If you are in a situation where your friend is no longer reaching out, then it may not be necessary to have a face-to-face conversation. It that situation, perhaps it may be better for you to stop making an effort to reach out and connect. Take some time to consider whether silently parting ways will be the best option or if a face-to-face conversation is the better route to take.
  3. Don’t bring others into it. Meaning, don’t speak poorly or encourage bashing of the friend you are severing ties with in an attempt to gain allies. Involving others friends has the potential to cause damage to more than one friendship.
  4. Be truthful but not mean. If you decide to end the friendship, it may be best to do so in person so that closure can be had for you both. When speaking to them be truthful in your reasons for cutting ties. The strategy of sugarcoating and dancing around the topic will only make ending the relationship worse. It is important to be descriptive and to stick to how their behaviors have made you feel rather than pointing out their flaws. For example, you might say, ” Danielle, I need to end our friendship because for some time now I feel it has been one-sided. I feel frustrated and annoyed as I only hear from you when you need someone to talk to or when you and your boyfriend are fighting.” Rather than, ” Danielle, I’m done being your friend. You are just using me, and I am sick of it.”
  5. Set boundaries for moving forward. If you are severing the friendship make sure it is clear to both you and the person you are walking away from what that means, so there is no confusion. For example, “Danielle, moving forward I feel it is best if neither of us makes efforts to explicitly hang out. However, if we happen to run into each other we still remain cordial.”

 

Have a Good Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Guest Blogger/ Host

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to School and Back to the Rules: Setting Boundaries with Technology

cc0publicdomainstudentsonphonesThe months of August and September bring many changes to the lives of students. As summer winds down and a schedule is back in order, students of all ages are challenged with the task to set boundaries for themselves, especially with technology. While young children have to have boundaries set forth by them for parents, those in middle school, high school, and college students, also have troubles battling with the distractions of computers, phones, I-pods, and other technical devices. This can become a serious issue as many students, including myself, begin to feel a constant need to look at their devices, due to the compelling desire to stay plugged in with the rest of the world. Sometimes this world can be a place of learning and outlet, and other times, it can be a real addiction, that again, causes serious issues. As Andrew Hough from the Telegraph reports in his online article: Student ‘addiction’ to technology ‘similar to drug cravings’, study finds, there are many symptoms of this addiction that are truly evident in students’ lives. As he again notes in his article, a study of 1,000 students from several countries, such as America, Britain, and China, showed that many students experienced cravings like that of a drug addict while abandoning technology for just one day. He refers to a secondary article to discuss the actual results of the mentioned study, entitled: Facebook Generation Suffers Information Withdrawal Symptoms, in which science correspondent Richard Gray discusses the exact work of the researchers in this endeavor. Richard Gray refers to the work of Dr. Roman Gerondimos, a communication lecturer from the UK, who saw both psychological and physical symptoms in his UK participants during an experiment. The experiment was called “Unplugged”, and was conducted by University of Maryland’s International Centre for Media and the Public Agenda, and the results can be found here.  The article again discusses that Dr. Gerondimos believes that this addiction, faced by individuals, is real and pervasive and must be both acknowledged and addressed for the future.

I personally have been prone to addiction with technology, which is why I want to address the importance of setting boundaries for oneself, one’s children and for students in general, since this addiction to technology can really get in the way of your studies. It can definitely impact both the quality of education and life for students. More recently, I have tried to go without constantly checking my phone, email, and social media, and I start getting really antsy and nervous. This is not how I want to live my life forever, so I have been doing some self-reflection on what can be done in order to better my life. So, I would like to offer some tips to students, parents, and teachers in order to curb the addiction to technology and set real boundaries to address this phenomenon:

  • Set a real and strategic time limit for young children using technology when they are first exposed. In this strategy, it sets them up for a routine and teaches discipline in their technology usage. Explain why it is important for them to have a time limit, also, so that they can reason why they have to stop at a specific time.
  • Define your technology expectations with pre-teen and teenage students in a very clear and succinct manner. It’s important to help them understand thoroughly what you want them to do or not do on a regular basis. Some teenagers may be more autonomous with their technology usage than the younger kids and so this may involve more in-depth explanations of what is expected and the possible consequences if they don’t respect the needs.
  • Keep a journal of the time you spend using technology, such as your phone, internet, TV, Apps, games, etc. If you are a college or a university student, maintaining boundaries is generally important to give space for other leisure-related, work-related, and school-related activities. With the journal, you can re-evaluate how much time is wasted online, and decide where you can cut back and what you would gain if you had that extra time to spend on friends, family or school activities.

Again, I know how hard it is to break away from the tech world and our addiction to it. However, it becomes necessary to preserve our sense of who we are and to guard our precious time. It is my hope that these tips have helped readers to ponder the importance of setting technology boundaries.

Enjoy your additional time now!

Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

Negotiations and Conflict Management M.S. Program

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Waltzing With Wolverines: Working With “Troubled” Teens

 

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Mark AndreasStephen - 1Join us to learn the key principles to building relationship and trust with any teenager, whether “troubled” or not. Want to know how to set effective boundaries, how to avoid ever getting into a power control battle, and how to have a whole lot of fun in the process? In a job where the average length of employment is measured in months, and many last only weeks, Mark Andreas not only survived but thrived while working round-the- clock with troubled teens. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youth leader, or anyone wanting to connect with and support the teens in your life, come learn how to build relationships that are simultaneously more empowering for you and the teens you work with.    

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Wedding Woes: The Results of No Communication With In-Laws

relationship problems no attribution required cc0 public domainI always wanted a perfect wedding. I endured a lot as a young person. My parents’ marriage ended in separation after three years and divorce after only six years. Even though I saw two people who could not get along and stay married, they still cared for one another and even spent time with each other. They never married again for the sake of my brother and myself. This really impacted my life, seeing two people work together despite their inability to completely reconcile the relationship. Therefore, I have always held the idea of marriage with great respect. Coming from a faith-based background, I was also influenced to believe marriage was a sacred and holy commitment. My own wedding occurred a little over a year ago. I really wanted it to be a certain way. However, I can say that while it was quite a beautiful wedding, a splendid ceremony, and always a cherished memory, the day was far from free of discord, dissatisfaction and even from sadness.

Let me first start by saying that I was terrified to get married to my husband. I love him so much, and while he is someone I do want to spend the rest of my life with, I was so afraid the night before that I almost called it off. The fear of failure, of a potential divorce, and of not being able to resolve issues with him almost totally swept me away. The idea of commitment was so scary that I almost backed out of this after nearly three years of being with him.  We also have had our differences for a long time but I decided to take a chance. These fears influenced my behavior during our wedding ceremony. Individuals can see that I was not myself when they look at my facial expressions in the ceremonial pictures. So, my fear was a source of conflict that contributed to my wedding woes.

My second source of conflict came from my parent’s concerns.  My mother was one of the best friends that I ever had. After her death, I missed her being at my wedding. She did not exactly approve of our relationship at the very end of her life. There was this force that was tearing at me internally saying: “Is this the right choice?”, “Are you sure about this guy?”, “Are you making a mistake?” that echoed all throughout my engagement, and again up until the wedding. My dad who is still alive also questioned this relationship. So, the parental influence was a strong source of conflict over this decision and contributed to the wedding woes for me.

In terms of my in-laws, they consist primarily of my husband’s parents and his eight siblings. I have never had a positive relationship with his parents. They and I simply do not see eye to eye. I did not want them to contribute financially to the wedding, as I knew there would be strings attached. Even though they did not contribute to our wedding, they still took advantage of us as they invited many people that I did not even know, and they did so through my husband’s generous nature, as they had him invite all of them for them. Regardless, there were a number of differing expectations each of us had of the other based on family tradition, religious values and lifestyle attitudes. Previous disagreements and values clashes limited my communication with my in-laws and prevented me from expressing my true expectations. This lack of communication only caused more tension, the need to control aspects of the wedding event, and my increasing anger that my needs were not met. The fear of judgment and angst caused me to emotionally and physically distance myself from them during the reception. I spent my energy focused on what they would say or do against our wishes, that the day was filled with stress and sadness instead of the joy you wish for any bride and groom on their special day. Upon reflection, my advice to engaged couples whether in private conversation or during marriage prep is to discuss expectations, and there are many. First, you need to determine your expectations of the groom, bridal party, parents, siblings, in-laws, vendors, etc. and discuss them with your fiancé. While I communicated this with my husband, and while the women, priest, organist, and photographer all assisted me with much love and concern for what I wanted, it still was not REALLY what I wanted. My husband really had NO expectations, meaning that he would be happy regardless. I had many needs, but I held low expectations of this whole situation, actually, due to the way that life has gone. My problem was that I did not exactly communicate what I wanted out of this experience and just expected others to know  what I wanted without me telling them. I would pose the following questions to you in order to illustrate what I learned, and what I believe would be helpful for your situation:

  1. Ask yourself, what do you want to clearly communicate to your in-laws? Clearly communicate what your expectations are to your in-laws as soon as you become engaged. Share with them the type of wedding you desire, limits to how many people can attend the wedding versus the reception , and exactly how you want it to look and feel like.
  • Ask them, what are your expectations about your role during the wedding event? Communicate to your in-laws that this is a very special day for you and your soon-to-be husband. They are welcome to be a part of it. Make sure to discuss what you don’t want to happen. 
  • Ask yourself, what are your boundaries or limitations of unacceptable behaviors from your in-laws, parents or family members? Identify what would really cross the line for you and ensure that you are respectful but firm in your communications. Always show kindness in the midst of anger and discord. 
  • Ask them, what would mutual respect look like at the wedding? For many parents, it is hard for them to let go of their children and therefore a challenge to treat their children as adults. Communicating with your parents or in-laws about what respect looks and sounds like is critical if you don’t want to feel like a child again at your own wedding. They very well might have had different experiences from their own wedding which they might impose upon you.

Here are two additional tips for when things go wrong at the wedding:

  • If mom and dad are rude at the wedding and/or reception, simply pretend like they did not make the remark and walk away until you are able to communicate to them in private. Do not cause a serious scene which only lends to embarrassing yourself, your parents or in-laws and others.
  • If your parents or in-laws invite too many or unknown people to the ceremony and reception, and you are concerned about additional costs or food shortages simply tell the officiant to check in the approved invited guests and politely inform uninvited guests  they are welcomed to stay for the ceremony but unfortunately, will not be able to attend the reception.  This allows those folks to still be a part of the day but preserves time and money at YOUR reception.

All in all, remember not to let the hurtful behaviors and remarks of others determine your mood, reactions and ultimately your happiness for this special day. You will regret it for the rest of your life otherwise. For some tips on managing expectations, listen to last week’s podcast from the Texas Conflict Coach® on avoiding wedding conflict: Common Conflicts and Peace Practices for Engaged or Newlywed Couples  featuring Michelle and Dan Joy!

Have a Great Week,

Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore, Negotiation and Conflict Management M.S. Program

 

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