How To Clean Up After Friendships
How To Clean Up After Friendships

A fresh crispness in the air.  Birds chirping earlier in the morning.  Living in the Midwest the debate of whether to start spring cleaning in spring commences because spring and winter will often cross paths in one day.  Despite whatever reason is cited for hesitance to enforce.  There are positive connections to the level of productivity and results while cleaning.  Having the same cleaning policies in your personal life will also be helpful with each season.  Using the cleaning to symbolize, where else in your life annually do you need to clean up, reorganize, or let go?  Spring cleaning involves reviewing items of winter, spring, and summer.  Getting rid of what is no longer needed and maybe replacing with what is needed.  This is helpful to apply the same approach to work, friendships and relationships.  If you have experienced some of the following changes such as the general energy of the group no longer matches yours or the uneven levels of help and fatigue sets in on both parties.


A study conducted on 8th through 12th-grade students from the Developmental Psychology Journal Vol 46(4), Jul 2010, 927-938, assessed a total of 847 adolescents with the median age averaging 14 years old.  Results indicated adolescents tend to select friends with similar levels of depression.  These friendships may increase each other’s depressive symptoms as relationships grow over time. This is most apparent outside of school.  At the same time, friendships seemed to end more frequently if adolescents’ level of depressive symptoms were dissimilar to that of their friends.

So of course, people will tend to sniff out their own kind.  The ones who are open or perhaps feed off of other people’s energies may make attempts to be more laid back in their relationships not causing waves.  They make attempts to branch out even if those branches are not beneficial for them.  For example, if the individual aligns themselves with people who are too negative, they become more negative themselves.  The take on the emotions of the group or ostracized for not being more negative.  The same reaction can be experienced by people who tend to be helpful.

Is Helping Helpful?

Have you struggled with being helpful and wondering why people are resistant to take your help? Possibly they get mad at you for the offering shouting they don’t need your help?  Maybe you are the person who gets annoyed each time someone tries to help you out.  The frustrated response is, “well aren’t they full of themselves” or “they think they are better than me?” How often have you seen people ask for recommendations or help on Facebook?  Many times, it appears help is wanted but studies show how helpful you are in your friendships or towards people can also work against you.

A study by Anam Barakzai and Alex Shaw at the University of Chicago published from Evolution and Human Behavior completed a study of 702 individuals in which the more helpful a friend was the more negatively a friend will respond to the helpful person.  Therefore, people instead tended to prefer a less helpful friend over a helpful friend.   When comparing help from a family member to a friend’s help people viewed a family member’s help less negatively than a friend’s help. This is exactly how fatigue can start in the relationship.  The person being helpful begins to make the person they are helping become resentful.  The person who is trying to help becomes bitter because they feel their help is going unappreciated thus starting a cycle.

Ghosting Friendships?

Perhaps this relationship has cycled through these phases for many years that the person helping just distances themselves from whom they are helping in order to recharge and replenish their abilities.  What if these breaks have happened one too many times and it is time to retire the friendship?  It is best to have a termination session in which you discuss with friends about why the friendship is no longer continuing.  Ghosting friendships will create further disruption and rumors as to why the relationship ended.  How they want to process or perceive the information that is told to them falls on them.  Often it will be met with frustration and bitterness which will create more tension temporarily or forever, but the good thing is now you won’t be subjected to their constant complaints or negative conduct.

Challenge Beliefs

What if you are the individual who is resistant to help but would like to find ways how to be better at accepting the help?  Here are some useful questions to ask oneself to help challenge your thoughts.  One way to improve this is to look at what you can accept.

      1. What can you accept from the person giving you the support? Can the support be broken down into smaller steps?


      1. Can you research the support that was given by the person to approve further?


      1. Ask yourself what would it mean if you accepted the help you were asking for? How would your life improve?


If you are the person giving the help some things to ask yourself are:


      1. Was help asked for?


      1. How was the help presented? (optimistically, condescendingly, angrily)


      1. Does the help make you feel better? How much is the ‘helping’ for you? (Do you control the situation by helping?)

(as help can be a positive way of looking at what is just a happy way of exerting control to help deal with the negative things or negative people.)

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