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That’s a Deal Breaker! Why and How Friendships Fail

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the subject of friends. Everyone needs them. Friends enrich our lives, give us a sense of community, and help ease the struggles of our day to day existence. I recently wrote an article discussing the qualities that make a good friend. This got me thinking about the flip side of that. What are the things that make friendship with some folks impossible? What constitutes a real “deal breaker” when it comes to considering someone a friend? I have my personal opinion on this, but I decided to also find out how my own friends and family would respond. As it turns out, I got a variety of answers to the question. Read on.

Top Ten Deal Breakers Exposed

Aside from someone simply not being interested in developing or maintaining a relationship with another person, certain behaviors make being friends too difficult to withstand. Here’s a short list of the most common deal breakers according to my survey:

  • Breaking trust
  • Lack of loyalty
  • Unreliability
  • Gossip
  • Manipulation
  • Backstabbing
  • Dishonesty
  • Lack of respect for another’s personal views
  • Not bothering to keep in touch

Trust, Loyalty, and Reliability Play an Important Part in Friendships

Trust Should Not Be Broken

When we are vulnerable before others, as often is the case in close relationships, we need to feel that our friends can be trusted. Confidentiality is a major issue when it comes to feeling comfortable baring our souls. If that doesn’t exist or is taken lightly, the relationship is almost surely doomed. For example, one friend described a situation that resulted in the breakup of a long-time alliance because she had trusted someone who let her down in the trust department. As she said, a major deal breaker for her is:

“when I tell someone something and ask them not to repeat it until I tell them it’s okay, and they break my trust and tell others anyway, before I’ve given my permission!”

Be Loyal and Reliable to Your Friends

Loyalty and reliability are also important in our relationships. For many, not standing up for a friend when they are facing physical or emotional challenges constitutes a definite deal breaker. After all, we come to expect that our true friends will advocate for us and want the best for our lives. We also expect that anyone who cares about us can be counted on to keep important commitments in the relationship. Unfortunately, some friendships fail when this becomes a problem. A family member told me about something that happened to her years ago when a friend of seven years repeatedly stood her up after they had planned to meet.

“We decided together to join Weight Watchers and support each other on our weight loss journey. When it was time for a Weight Watchers meeting, she would not show up. This happened three times. Furthermore, she never called or texted me to tell me that she wouldn’t be there. I soon told her that we could no longer be friends, because of the mistrust. This incident happened 15 years ago, and sadly we never spoke again.”

I had a similar experience several years back that caused me to reevaluate my friendship with a close neighbor and to eventually let that relationship go. There was a unique twist, however, because this female friend would make plans to go out and do something with me — but then cancel our plans at the last minute if she got a call from a guy asking her for a date! Under these circumstances, I began to feel that I was only a “placeholder” until something or someone better came along. Naturally, I cut ties with her, as this behavior constituted a legitimate deal breaker for me.

What We Say and How We Say It Can Become a Deal Breaker

Gossip is Another Form of Disloyalty

Face it, gossip rears its ugly head far too often in our society. What may seem on the surface as innocent can prove deadly when it comes to maintaining a good relationship. I’ve never understood the intrigue of gossip, but I can tell you that it never brings positive results. If you are the target of thoughtless gossip, you know what I mean. Chances are if you find that a friend has participated in gossiping about you, you feel a sense of betrayal — along with the possible shame and embarrassment of being the subject of the rumor mill. Really, engaging in gossiping about a friend is just another form of disloyalty. And that’s a definite deal breaker.

Manipulation and Backstabbing Are Harmful

I would also include manipulation and backstabbing here because these two behaviors often go along with gossip. And they can be just as detrimental in the overall scheme of things. Anyone who tries to control another person by belittling them or talking behind their back is not a true friend. It’s important to us to associate with people who are supportive and considerate. A real deal breaker for most of us occurs when someone whom we considered to be a friend cuts us down in some way in order to appear superior or to get attention from others. One acquaintance I interviewed told me about someone whom she used to admire and look up to as a friend but could no longer because she witnessed them verbally abusing others. She lost all respect for that person along with any desire to continue the friendship.

Dishonesty and Lack of Respect for Personal Values Cause Problems

Our words matter and they reflect on us and those around us. Hence, it’s important, to be honest in our relationships. Telling the truth in love is a valuable part of caring for others and being in community. It also harkens back to the trust issue mentioned above. Transparency helps the relationship to grow, and honesty breeds security in friendships. When I know that my friends can be upfront because they are concerned about our relationship being the best it can be, I feel safe and loved. Our friendship can blossom in the freedom of being true to ourselves and to each other.

While being honest and open, it’s important to acknowledge and respect the personal values of others. A true friend accepts the other for who they are and does not try to impose their own standards on him or her. Unfortunately, I’ve been in relationships where I’ve had to constantly defend my beliefs and ideals. This created so much stress that after a while I had to call that a deal breaker and move on. I’ve always thought it sad when a friendship ends under such circumstances, but without understanding and acceptance, it’s just not worth it to continue.

Remember to Nurture Your Relationships

Probably the most obvious deal breaker of all occurs when someone simply doesn’t have time for your friendship. They don’t keep in touch or seem to care about making plans to get together. If you’ve had this happen to you, you might have felt as if you were doing all the work to keep the relationship alive. Good friendships are a two-way street. Both parties have to nurture the relationship or it can easily fall apart.

Sometimes situations naturally occur and neither party is at fault. A friend might move far away, get busy with raising children or begin a job that requires them to travel extensively. I have had this happen in my life many times, and it’s always a disappointment no matter how much I try to accept the change. But what about those folks that just seem to not have room for you anymore, even though there doesn’t seem to be any specific reason for the change? I guess the only thing you can ultimately do is be grateful for the time you had together and seek new connections with others in whom you want to cultivate friendships.

For a Few — There Are No Deal Breakers!

By the way, something surprised me in my “research” about deal breakers in friendships. Believe it or not, a couple of folks I spoke to couldn’t come up with a single deal breaker! I found that hard to fathom until I heard their explanations. A close family member revealed that he accepted everyone, and that anyone who showed interest in him as a person and treated him well deserved his time, attention, and care. What a refreshing and thoughtful attitude! But my favorite response to the question of what would make it impossible to be friends with someone came from another family member who stated the following:

“I have no deal breakers. I have unconditional love because you never know what the other person is going through. Love is Love!”

I couldn’t agree more. I rest my case.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, its employees, sponsors, or affiliates.

Maggie Daniel

Those closest to Maggie Daniel know her as an eternal optimist. Not that life has been easy by any means, but she tries to look at the bright side of things, and always considers what can be learned from each challenging experience. A resident of Fort Collins for nearly 30 years, Maggie is an avid music lover, photographer, and writer. She enjoys volunteering in the community whether it be emceeing at music festivals or working at the local library bookstore. In her past life, she studied literature at Southern Illinois University, where she also taught creative writing as a graduate student. After college, Maggie went to work as a technical writer for AT&T and then later for Apollo Computer. She is now retired, but she remains active and ready for adventure. She is married with two grown children – and hoping to be a grandmother someday. As a contributing writer to The We Blog Spot, Maggie is excited to share her thoughts on mindful living, wellness, and connecting with others in a meaningful way.

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