If, like me, you hate disappointing people, chances are there are quite a few people floating in your orbit that probably don't deserve to be there. The average person knows around 150 people; that's 150 people you interact with on some level. But obviously, you're not going to be discussing your grandest hopes and dreams with your barber (or maybe you are, you crazy oversharer). Think of your friends and acquaintances as layers of an onion - sexy, I know - with the closest layer to the center representing the select few deserving of the title "Good friend". According to several studies, that number is somewhere in between six and twelve.
Now, you've got the mental capacity for six, maybe twelve good friends in your life. And yet somehow, every now and then, you let someone sneak in who really doesn't belong in your inner layer. "Get out of my damn onion!," you think, and yet, they stick around. And that's your fault. Sorry to be blunt, but it's the cold, hard truth, my friend.
We're all culpable. Most likely because we feel cutting someone out of our lives somehow makes us a bad person. Ironically, hanging out with someone for years just because you're afraid of hurting their feelings makes you a much worse person. Because there s/he is, person x, sitting across from you, having the time of their life, while you're mentally queuing all the Netflix shows you'd rather be watching right now. And that doesn't serve either of you.
A few months ago, I decided to de-clutter my life. The older we get, the more we juggle, the less time we have for the things that truly make us happy. If you’re sitting across from someone at dinner, while you’re really fantasizing about Netflix and a bucket of Ben & Jerry's, is it really worth it? Time is our most precious asset; don’t waste it. Where to start? There are a few archetypes to watch out for - start with these:
1. The friend who never asks questions
So, you just spent half an hour listening to person x about their new boyfriend and their rocking sex life, and their amazing new job, and this insane juice cleanse they're on that you just have to try. And then that little pause sets in that typically signals a shift in topics; this is where most people would ask, "What about you? What's new with you?" But the question never materializes. Instead, they take a deep breath and start again. And you're sitting there, your eyes glazed over, trying to feign a smile. After a few hours, you part ways, without you having divulged a single piece of information about your life. These people, these so-called emotional vampires, drain you of all of your energy. They feed off of you only to feel better about themselves; to them, you are nothing more than a sounding board. Get out while you still can.
2. The friend who's joined at the hip with their partner
It's inevitable - eventually, most of us will couple up from time to time. I've come to realize there are two types of people: those who still place a premium on pursuing their own shit, and those who can't seem to go anywhere without their partner anymore. While it's totally acceptable to, on occasion, bring your partner along, it shouldn't become the status quo either. (See also: codependency). Don't get me wrong, partners are fun and nice and good for cuddles and all the other fun stuff, but s/he'll still be there when you come home at night. If your friend can't seem to make any time for you without their better half being present, consider consciously uncoupling from them.
3. The friend who only gets in touch when they need something
We all get texts like this: "Heyyyy! So sorry for not getting back to you earlier, but like, I've been so swamped and stuff! Hey quick question, can you watch my dog / front me some cash / find a good hitman for me? Let's grab a beer soon byeeee". Friends watch friends' dogs (I think), and that's cool, but if the only time you enter someone's mind is when they need help with their tax returns, then something ain't right. I'd recommend Googling "Dog Walker/borrow money/dependable hitman", sending them the info, and leaving it at that.
If the above sounds a little harsh to you, I get you. But trust me, it'll turn your life around. For the longest time, I was this Yes Man who couldn't entertain the thought of disappointing others. And I always tired all the time. Eventually, I realized what drained me of all my energy were people who had no idea what a reciprocal friendship was. When you start ridding your life of all this dead weight, you have more time and energy to spend on those who really matter. You'll be more focused, less tired and generally much more chipper. The people around you will notice, and they'll thank you for being less of a grumpy dick. And everyone's a winner!
Main image credit: BLU in Berlin