No relationship is perfect all of the time. Try these fixes for tricky friendship trip-ups. / Stockbyte/Getty Images
When it comes to your pals, it’s not always fun and games. “No relationship is perfect all the time, and friendships require work,” says psychologist Irene Levine, Ph.D., author of Best Friends Forever. That said, working through differences with a friend can actually strengthen your bond—it proves that yours is a committed, deep relationship that can weather hard times. Here’s how to handle common trip-ups among friends:
The problem: You have nothing to say to each other anymore.
The Fix: Life transitions—career changes, marriage, babies, divorce, widowhood—can create distance. Tell your friend that your relationship “feels” different and ask whether it was something you said, didn’t say, did or didn’t do. Show interest in what else may be going on in the other person’s life. If things still feel out-of-sync, it may mean you need some space. It’s okay to let a friendship drift apart, says Levine: “Not all friendships last forever.”
The problem: She’s always “too busy” to make plans.
The Fix: If it’s truly her jammed iCal that’s keeping you apart, even a lunch date may seem overwhelming. Instead, try suggesting a get-together that multitasks, like meeting at the gym or at the supermarket. If, after you tell your friend that the relationship is important to you and work to accommodate her schedule, she keeps brushing you off, it’s possible she may have lost interest in the friendship. “Sometimes ending a relationship is one-sided,” says Levine. “You may need to accept her decision.”
The problem: You can’t stand her partner.
The fix: So what? “You’re not married to or dating him,” Levine points out. Avoid the insufferable spouse by planning ladies-only events. And if she starts to vent, don’t pile on with your opinion, says Levine, just listen and help her find practical solutions.
The problem: You’re envious of your friend’s job, house or [fill in the blank].
The fix: “It’s natural to be a little jealous,” says Levine. Remember: no one’s life is perfect; everyone has problems. Plus, says Levine, life is a series of tradeoffs: think of what you have versus what she has and you don’t have. Still, if a friend constantly flaunts her fortunes, you may need to initiate a heart-to-heart and tell her how her it makes you feel. Try: I’m happy for you, but when you keep talking about xxx, I feel xxx for me.
The problem: You’ve got, um, spirited teens and she can’t resist telling you how to raise them.
The fix: Like religion and politics, childrearing is often topic of conversation best avoided, so thank your friend for her advice and then tell her you’ll have to agree to disagree. “But if your friend thinks she knows how to do everything better than you,” says Levine. “You may want to re-evaluate the friendship.”