Saying Goodbye to Stagnant Friends

Friendships are important, and long-term healthy friendships are invaluable. But what happens when your friends have settled into stasis––a state of stagnation, lack of growth or evolution? How can you be expected to stay in conversation with someone who has sown very little acceleration over there years? How can you ever be inspired by someone who may have backtracked, is always waiting for a miracle to fall from the sky instead of working hard for what they want, or someone who doesn't even know what they want? If you have been processing in life and your friends can never complete a vision or has no vision, how can you continue the friendship without getting bored or feeling like the smartest, most capable person in the room? Good questions, huh!

Life ebbs and flows. Everything is ever changing and there will be times when you're up and times when you're down. It is during those up times that you look to your friends to help you celebrate and keep you grounded, and during those down times when you look to your friends for comfort, support, and motivation. But, what happens when one of your friends, or a group of your friends, seems to be in a constant state of lull?

It becomes difficult to support someone when they are always complaining, always struggling, and never really doing anything about it. It becomes frustrating when you try to help them by sharing what you know, and showing them steps to help them out of their troubles or current way of thinking, but they just can't seem to latch on. It wears you down to see someone close to you flounder over and over, again. It's frustrating to hear them always reciting a list of what they won't or can't do. And all of this puts you between a rock and hard place––this person may be a good friend, but if they aren't being good to themselves, how long can you stay active in their life?

Save Yourself:

There comes a time when you have to just save yourself. Though your stagnant friends mean well, they don't realize what blessing blockers and soul suckers they can become when they cease being able to contribute to well-rounded, informative, inspiring conversations. When your ebb is dissipating and you are in your flow, preparing to catch a big wave, it is important to surround yourself with people who are just as accomplished as you, if not more. As the saying goes, you are the average of the five people with whom you spend most of your time. Now, take a look at your top five. Is it time to make some changes?

Friendship vs Purpose:

Just because someone is and has been a friend to you, does not mean they have a purpose in your life. And while we like to believe that people don't need purposes to be our friends, the fact of the matter is that everyone we come across should serve one. If your friendships aren't enriching, if your friends do not inspire you, if it has gotten harder for them to understand or support you as you progress, it's time to put them in a different position.

This is not to say you cannot be friends with them, but it is to say they should not be in your top five. You deserve to be surrounded by people who are just as or even more motivated and prosperous as you. You deserve to be able to tell someone about your new business venture, a piece of property you're thinking of purchasing, or an idea you'd like to bring to fruition, and be able to connect with the person listening, to get valuable feedback, support, and advice. The people with whom you spend most of your time should have the capacity to teach you something new on a daily basis. If you are the only one with valuable advice and practical know-how, you are in the wrong circle.

How to Say Goodbye:

Obviously, this is a tricky matter and no one is going to take kindly to you telling them that they're just not progressive enough for you, at this time. There is really no good way to tell someone you are distancing yourself, but how you begin this journey depends on the type of friendships you have. If the friend in question isn't a particularly close or long-term friend, you may find it easier to have the conversation. Or, you may find that a conversation is not necessary for someone with whom you don't have a history or bond. You may feel it's more appropriate to just ghost this person.

When it comes to long-term friendships, however, things get a bit more complicated. Some friendships span decades and each person has developed a sense of loyalty to and comfort around the other. So, you want to be very careful with these friendships. It's not as if they are bad people or that you no longer consider them friends, it's just that you are in different places in your lives and the energy has grown stagnant and the vibration low. In this case:

  • Slowly back away, creating a new normal.
  • Don't answer the phone every time they call or text.
  • Refrain from telling them the details of your personal and professional life.
  • Keep the conversations light, short, and general.
  • Put yourself in the position to meet new people with like minds.
  • Mingle with those new people more than your stagnant friends.
  • Create a new top five.

The goal here is to surround yourself with people who can help you get to where you're going, who understand, relate to, and can add to the process of getting there, and to never be the smartest person in the room. Having history with someone doesn't mean you will have a future with them, and having a future with them doesn't mean it will ever mirror your history. Things change. People change. You can love someone and still move on from them. Never feel guilty about your growth.


self careElisabeth Ovesen