1. Does your friend know there’s an issue?
In the same way a good manager would never fire an employee for performance issues without a warning, in most instances, it’s a good idea to give your friend a chance to change their behavior. According to Jackson, it’s easy to confuse the time you’ve spent ruminating on a friendship and talking about it with other people for communication with the one person who actually needs to hear it—and it’s a huge missed opportunity. “When it comes to differentiating between healthy and unhealthy conflict, the goal is to see these conversations as an opportunity to grow, to understand each other better, and to connect,” she says.
2. Is a friendship breakup really the only solution?
If acknowledging something needs to change in a friendship is the first step toward a resolution, deciding exactly what that change looks like is the second. According to Jackson, friendship breakups don’t necessarily have to involve cutting someone out of your life completely. Instead, one solution could be shifting your expectations.
3. Why have you invested time and energy in this friendship?
There may be various motivations for maintaining a friendship with someone, but it is important to consider whether these reasons are based on healthy feelings or negative emotions such as fear, obligation, or loneliness. Jackson and Dr. Korrel both suggest that it may be necessary to reassess the relationship if it is driven by these negative emotions.
4. What is this friendship really costing you?
Jackson points out that we only have a limited amount of time and energy. If you’re using all of it on this one person, you may be neglecting other friendships. He suggests that a significant part of what makes some friendships challenging is the amount of energy that is misdirected, whether it’s at social gatherings that do not bring you happiness or through constantly trying to arrange a meet-up with a friend who frequently cancels.
5. Does the good outweigh the bad?
If you have experienced years of cruelty from a friend, it is likely that you do not want to continue the relationship. On the other hand, if the thought of the friend brings about positive memories and hopefulness, then it is likely that you would want to maintain the relationship.