friendship + family

To Prune or Not to Prune

June 13, 2013

end friendship

Yesterday I discussed how difficult it is (for me) to maintain close, meaningful friendships into adulthood. Because friendships need to be nurtured, and to be tended to… like a garden. Some plants require more attention and need certain conditions (just enough light, just enough water, the right pot and/or soil, etc) to thrive, while others need much less and still manage to grow without much interference. Most of my friends tend to be of the latter nature. Many of us can talk on the phone a handful of times throughout the entire year, and see each other maybe once a year, and still be the best of friends. No love is lost simply because we aren’t in direct communication all the time. The quality of the communication we do have makes up for the lake in quantity of phone calls and in-person meet ups. I still desire to have more communication and better contact with my friends because having those moments where we can share with each other and enjoy each other’s company are so important to me. But most of those friendships aren’t in jeopardy of existing if we aren’t up to date with minute to minute information.

I don’t have many of the “needy” type  friendships now that I’m adult. I just don’t have the time or patience to tend to a needy friend. The friend who feels that if they aren’t in constant communication with you, know every single detail of your life, and have immediate access to you, then your friendship is a sham. And as I’ve already mentioned, life gets more busy and difficult to manage over time – and ain’t nobody got time for that! And I don’t know if I naturally select friends who aren’t very needy or I just subconsciously let those friendships fall to the wayside because I don’t have these types of friendships, I just wouldn’t be able to keep up with them.

And as a few people mentioned in the comments yesterday, when your priorities and life situations change, often times your friends do too and you sometimes have to cut friends out of your life. I’m a firm believer that you have “seasonal” friends – friends who are only meant to last for a temporary period of time in your life. They may be a good friend to you for a certain time, but their role in your life wasn’t meant to be long lasting. I think we all have or have had those “friends” who you think are pretty cool, we hang out with on occasion, we always get invites to for events. They might be “friends” from work, from school, from an organization you’re in – you’re connected by some common thread and there’s no good reason you shouldn’t be friendly. And I would venture to say they’re more than an acquaintance because these are people you would choose to hang out with voluntarily in leisurely settings and you might even share things about yourself (not necessarily really personal things) over drinks. I think of acquaintances as people you know from say work or is a friend of a friend that you might occasionally see after hours at ULYP events and will chop it up with but who you’d never consider inviting to attend a Foreign Exchange concert or Kevin Hart show with you and your crew. I had numerous casual friends when I was living in Pittsburgh. I was a student, in a sorority, and actively involved in my church and local organizations – so I met a lot of cool people and made a lot of friends. Just about all of the people I know in Portland also fall into this category of casual friends.

Wherever I go I tend to have a network of people I can be social with. But when I leave those places, I leave a lot of those friendships behind. I still have contact with many of these friends via Facebook or Twitter, but I don’t actively pour into those friendships. Because they weren’t meant to be long-lasting. I still like many of these people, and wish them well in life, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to be a part of their life or have them be part of mine. I haven’t needed to intentionally cut friends off because I tend not to nurture a friendship that I see going nowhere (or that isn’t meant to continue past it’s shelf life). And when I have noticed that a friendship is going nowhere (i.e. a casual friendship trying to parade as a close friendship, or a close friendship that has gone stale and stagnant), I stop caring for it. Not the person, just the relationship. There are only a few instances where I’ve cut some one off completely (no communication whatsoever), but by and large there are many people throughout my life who have just taken a very low priority on my list of people to actively think about. The people I put and keep in my life matter very much to me mentally and emotionally, and there isn’t room for some one who isn’t going to make me better or contribute to my well being.

I think the entire goal of the maturation process is finding out who you are and what you need to live the life you want. Part of that journey is learning to navigate the sometimes murky waters of relationships with various people – especially friends. It seems the older we get, the more we change but the more stuck in our ways we get. And our tolerance for people that aren’t beneficial additions to our lives seems to decrease exponentially with age as well. Unfortunately, everyone our age doesn’t mature at the same rate, or they just don’t mature at all, and so they’re left behind and look at you crazy when you say “I don’t have time for this/you.” Like, your being a fully grown adult is problematic. Le sigh.

Do you have different categories of friends or do you only have your close friends and then everybody else? How do you deal with friendships that seem to be more effort than they’re worth? Have you kept friends around that you know you should let go but you don’t have the heart to part ways?


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  • Reply movss June 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I agree with this 100% because I tend to be the “out of sight, out of mind,” friend that many of my friends have. I don’t need or want daily or even monthly communication. I always make time for my friends to let me know what’s going in on their lives and I share as well, but it’s understood that unless someone is going through a rough patch or in need of advice/assistance, then steady contact is unnecessary.

    I met someone recently that as cool as they were, there was absolutely no way I was going to embark on a friendship with them. It wouldn’t end well. They are very high maintenance and I have little patience for such activity in adults. I could just envision them wanting to know why the friendship wasn’t this or that and having to explain to some adult that I had a life. Again…cool as all get out, but not my cup of tea for a friendship.

    I’m strange that way though. It takes a bit for me to warm to people. I usually don’t have much to say when we first meet. I try to place a person’s energy before I warm up to them, unless they have a really positive vibe…then I can be a bit more relaxed. Overall, I truly am an anti-social socialite. Lol.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      i totally feel you. and im one of those people who will not let others dictate how im going to be a friend to them. like, you will not sit here and demand me to give more when thats just not reasonable.

      and i feel you on controlling who you build friendships with from the go. im very social and friendly, and i enjoy connecting with people. but there are people in my phone who ill hang out with, but we not about to be besties. and im not going to be obligated to do anything for or with you. period.

      LOL @ anti-social socialite. thats quite a conundrum.

  • Reply madscientist7 June 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    i have 3 different categories of friends. i have my inner circle. i have friends. and lastly i have acquaintances. my inner circle consists of my 4 friends that i went to college and undergrad with, my 3 close friends from grad school and my line brothers. my friends are people whom i am really close with but i won’t tell my secrets or they probably wouldn’t be the first people i go to for advice. my acquaintances are people whom i’m cool with. i’d party with them or attend social events with them but at the end of the day its a surface relationship.

    i haven’t had to cut off anyone in the first two classifications of friends but i have had to cut off quite a few acquaintances. i didn’t mind much because like you said sometimes you have friends for a season. i never try to intentionally try to burn bridges but sometimes its necessary. i have no problem with telling a person that i’d rather not be in their company anymore.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      see what you call acquaintances are what i would call associates. but semantics aside, i am also much more likely to prune away those associates or casual friends. saying theyre disposable seems so cruel lol but they are. they arent irreplaceable, i will find other people to serve the same purpose.

      i dont think ive ever TOLD somebody i dont wanna be friends with them anymore. except when heated words were exchanged. and even then i probably didnt say that, just implied it. as mean as i can be, id rather passively disconnect.

      • Reply madscientist7 June 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        right before i left nashville i had to tell a couple of people about themselves. one thing i hate are people who claim to be loyal but only prove the opposite. disloyalty is something i will not tolerate.

  • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. June 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Your pruning analogy speaks to my love of gardening…

    I do have different categories of friends. Most of the time the friendships didn’t start out that way but as things progress people fall into categories. I do find it odd that I don’t have any current coworkers whom I would call friends because I simply don’t hang around with my fellow Spacely’s Sprocket’s employees.

    The bothersome variety of friendships are hard. If you don’t grow from the friendship then you have to take a look at what’s going on. Chances are you are the shark and they are those weird fish who hang around the shark. Eventually for you this becomes unhealthy.

    Fortunately I’ve been blessed enough to cash out of toxic relationships before they drug me down. Sure, things were teetering on bad but I backed out for the sake of my well being.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      lol its funny you mention the pruning analogy – because in my head thats what i wanted to build on but i dont actually do into it. i meant to circle back around but… i failed lol.

      i too have been fortunate to steer clear of friendships that turn toxic or sour. i am a pretty good judge of character and i tend to keep my eye out on people’s actions and deal with them accordingly.

  • Reply Rury June 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Just thinking about this the other day….. I think this is applicable as well: John 15:1-5
    The Vine and the Branches
    15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      yep yep – thats what the good book says

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