Setting a Friend Free


Sad woman looking out the window.534. That’s the number of ‘friends’ Facebook says I have. Of those friends, I can easily say more than half I follow to spy on. Yup, I’m nosey, but hey, I admit it!

In this modern era of Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media, the word ‘friend’ has a different meaning than it did when I was in elementary school.

Like you, I’m sure I have some friends I haven’t seen in years, maybe decades, but I can send a quick text or message when a memory of time together is sparked. There are also the newer friends, mostly mommy friends and a few work friends, who have new bonds, and I’m still figuring out how the dynamics work. Since I am a ‘friend collector,’ I tend to have mostly easy-going and enjoyable relationships with all my friends.

The modern dictionary defines a friend as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of family relations.” Recently, I’ve decided to take inventory of my friends and do some spring cleaning.

It’s time to get rid of a few friends who are dragging me down, taking advantage of me, or adding zero value to my life. It’s not easy to do, and it’s tough if there isn’t a falling out that can be used as a reason or catalyst for the breakup.

Over the summer, when I have more downtime, I try to reach out to the friends I neglect during the school year. When I leave a good friend date, the rush of positive energy makes me always say, “I need to do more of this with that friend.”

Unfortunately, I do have one or two ‘friends’ who I leave feeling drained, angry, or even depressed after our time together. I’m not going to lie; sometimes, even just seeing a text message from them or their name on my FB thread gives me a sense of dread. These are the ones I’m now considering “setting free.”

Said friends spend most of our time together complaining about life and putting down others, and they are all around too needy for my current life stage. When I was younger and had more time and less cares, who knows, maybe I sounded just like them.

In truth, I think our lives have just gone in separate directions, or the foundations of our friendship, gym classes, or sharing a mutual workplace are no longer enough to sustain more than a 15-minute conversation.

When I realized I needed to start setting myself and my friend free, I asked a friend who went through this a few years back. Always a wise woman, she asked a few questions.

“Do you spend more energy avoiding and lying to this person than you spend building up your friendship?” (Yes)

“Do you think the attitude and negative talk toward you and your family is intentional?” (Yes)

“What would you miss about the relationship if you never spoke to her again?” (Not much)

I thought long and hard about my answers. It’s time to stop the vicious cycle of judging, making me feel bad about certain parts of my life, and the negativity. Life’s too short to waste my time with those who don’t value me. I guess I’m off to have one less friend.

Have you ever had to set a friend free? I would love to hear about it and even get some advice.

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Maria Sette
Maria is a full-time mom, teacher, wife, daughter, and sister, who feels pulled in too many directions! Her older son Michael took over 24 hours to be born, and at six-months-old was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, shrimp, and wheat…all after exclusively nursing because she was SO SURE that would help him be a healthy kid. Luckily at age 1, he began to outgrow some of his allergies. Fingers crossed the others will soon follow because that plus a husband who doesn’t eat any veggies and Maria always battling her weight makes for three meals to prepare every night. Luckily, Christopher, her younger son, is a cooperative eater! As someone who has always been committed to making positive change, Maria uses her privilege and position as an educator and mom to work toward a most anti-racisit, equitibile, and inclusive world. Recently, Maria has even started getting up at 5am to workout in her basement. (Thank you pandemic living!) She is addicted to reading chicklit on her Kindle app in the dark, most Trader Joe’s products, and watching TikToks.


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