One of the reasons we have friends is to be able to share our lives with them. In return, we let them share their lives with us. Ideally, our friends cheer us on at our best moments and comfort us in our worst and we do the same for them. But, friendships aren’t perfect. Sometimes friends do dumb things to each other. We might forget special events or say things with good intentions that end up hurting the other by accident.
The next time you find yourself mentally adding up “friendship points” and are weighing all the things you’ve done vs. what they’ve done to prove you are the better friend, JUST STOP IT. Keeping score about who has done a better job at maintaining the friendship wastes your time and energy. In addition, it gives you more opportunities to feel hurt about minor things that might have only been an annoyance at the time. Friendship isn’t a contest and keeping score is pointless.
But what if I’m not the one causing the problem?
If one of your friends is trying to keep score against you and listing all the ways they’ve bested you in this ridiculous game, it’s time to be radically honest with them. Find the truth in what they’re saying and thank them for being there for you when you needed it. Then, think carefully if you are being selfish in the relationship and taking more than what you give. It doesn’t have to be even, but it does have to be somewhat balanced. Use this as an opportunity for growth.
But, what if they’re wrong and being petty? A friendship takes many forms over the years. People need different types of friends during different times of their lives. There might be times where after careful consideration, it might be best to consider distancing yourself from any particular person because they leave you too emotionally drained.
Considering both sides of the story
The older my kids get, the more I see this type of scorekeeping show up as they share their day with me. There’s nothing worse than thinking that something’s not fair, especially between friends. Hearing this kind of talk dredges up all the pains of being an awkward teenager myself.
As these moments are shared, I ask them questions that force them to consider both sides of the situation. This type of conversation helps them think about how other people have entire lives happening that we don’t see that might be full of challenges that make them act in a certain way. While it’s not a perfect solution, sometimes it’s enough to prevent them from getting worked up or angry about a situation where they might have been misjudged.
Discussion question: There is a fine line between a solid friendship and one that could be considered toxic. How do you determine when a friendship needs to end?