Lopsided relationships

We all have them. Those relationships where we feel like we do 90% of the work and only get 10% given back to us.

You know what I mean, right? The only time you hang out with them is when you initiate it. You rarely hear from them. Unless, of course, they need something from you. Then they don’t hesitate to message you and ask for help.

They can be exhausting, frustrating and discouraging.

Say you find yourself in a friendship like that — what do you do? That’s something I’ve wrestled with for years.

Should I cut those friends off? Should I keep trying to nurture the relationships, hoping this time it’ll be different?

I think the healthy solution is somewhere in the middle.

For so long, I let my self-worth be defined by a friendship that too often made me feel worthless, like I wasn’t a priority and was only her friend in case she needed something.

It caused me so much stress and anxiety, and devastated my self-esteem.

Several things helped me get to a healthy place in that relationship — and yes, I still have that relationship.

  • I realized my worth is not defined by how someone else treats me. My worth has always and will always be defined by my heavenly Father and Him alone.
  • I learned that all people are different and have unique motivations and desires. Some people are more needy than others in relationships, while others are busier and more independent. It may not be a personal or intentional attack when someone doesn’t text you back. It could be an honest oversight. (Personality type studies have done wonders for my relationships with friends, family and co-workers. If we’re all unique, I can’t expect someone to behave exactly like I would.)
  • I embraced what I bring to friendships. Anyone would be lucky to be my friend and if someone chooses not to be my friend, that’s her loss, not mine.

So no, I didn’t cut her off. We’re still friends and I’ll always be there for her when she needs me. But I’ve seen our relationship for what it is: just friendship.

I think for so long I tried to keep us best friends, but we were growing apart — that’s fine, it happens.

And it has redeemed our relationship. I can enjoy my time spent with her more because I’m not stressed out trying to fit her or our friendship into a mold I’ve dreamed up.

I’ve been freed to be a better version of myself because I’m no longer stressed, anxious and trying to earn her favor. Sometimes it’s worth reevaluating and reshaping the relationships that bring anxiety.

But hear me when I say this: Some friendships are toxic. It is absolutely OK to end relationships that cause you stress and don’t bring you joy. Do not feel like you have to keep someone in your life who makes you uncomfortable or only adds anxiety and chaos.

Do what is healthiest and safest for you, remembering always that this earth is not our home and God’s love stretches beyond anything we can comprehend.

Jessica Ingram is a regular contributor to The Scroll. She also is project manager for TAB Media Group. She graduated from Mississippi State University in 2017 and is a member of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham.


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