Episode 36 – Friendship breakdowns

Identifying a break down

It can be challenging to identify if something has actually occurred to create a rift, or a tear in some way to the relationship.  The bigger things that hurt  someone either in word or deed are more obvious to pick up like – lying about someone, getting into a fight and physically or emotionally hurting someone etc. Generally the more subtle damages of a friendship are based on a breakdown in trust or sometimes not a breakdown but a potential risk of break down.

Eg. A breakdown of trust could be revealing something like you’ve been experiencing workplace bullying and you shared that with them in confidence. But a potential breakdown of trust could be your friend bringing up the topic of workplace bullying in a conversation with a group of friends in your presence OR mentioning something like ‘well my friend may have some insights into this topic, but I can’t say anything more’. Your friend hasn’t strictly broken your confidence, but they’ve risked it by demonstrating a lack of regard for your emotional well being. That alone can rattle trust in a friendship 

Emotion/ Gut

What’s your gut instinct? Do you feel like something is off? If you do, it’s very possible something is


Go back and do a mental check of the acronym for Trust that we’ve covered in one of our first episodes on the podcast – Braving – Boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, non-judgment and generosity. Have one or more of these been at risk of being broken OR been violated entirely either by you or by your friend? If so, trust has been jeopardized. 



Was there a pre-established rule or standard that was overstepped? 

This often happens when friendships move into the romantic realm, boundaries both physical and emotional can quickly be crossed. Simple boundaries that existed before like no hand holding, or few hugs suddenly become extended and that can feel like a broken boundary if the level of affection is not reciprocated OR communicated. 

Workplace boundaries

Maybe you intentionally don’t have close friends from work, but now a colleague wants to be your BFF and keeps trying to arrange drinks after work.


Does the person do what they say they were going to do? 

This takes competency and capability. A quick way to lose reliability is to ‘forget’ the event or meet up that was arranged OR arrive extremely late, leaving them hanging. In both cases, we’re demonstrating that we cannot be trusted to be where we say we were going to be, at the time we said we would be there.  


Does the person own up to a mistake, apologise and make amends?

When an argument has transpired, or they clearly said they would do something and didn’t, do they hold themselves accountable and own up to not upholding their end of the deal. Do they apologise from there, acknowledging that they have inconvenienced you and hurt you in the process AND do they actively try to make amends not only to ease the pain that’s been caused but also to prevent it from happening again in future.


Do they uphold your confidence with what you share with them, AND do they demonstrate that they will uphold someone else’s confidence with what they have shared with them, even to the point of NOT sharing it with you?

Vault is the ability to hold confidence no matter who comes asking. This is not about secrecy as in withholding truth that is necessary for justice to come about; no, a true friend would be Just. This is about where another has no need to know your business, your friend doesn’t share it with others, and where you don’t need to know another business, your friend also doesn’t share someone else’s business with you. They demonstrate their trustworthiness by their ability to hold confidence. 


Choosing courage over comfort – right over wrong. 

This is where, if you had committed a crime, your friend would encourage you to own up to it, and if you don’t, inform the appropriate authorities themselves because that is the right thing to do.  Similarly – when we have caught our friend’s girlfriend or boyfriend cheating (physically or emotionally), the right thing to do is to reveal that to our friend, even though it makes us feel uncomfortable, and afraid.  


Permission to fall apart, be a mess, ask for help, and not being judged AND vice versa. 

Reciprocal and non-judgmental – ability to be there for each other regardless of how messy things might get for one person or the other. The moment we judge our friend for being a mess, we’ve elevated ourselves above them and are no longer equals. That’s not good for friendships. 


Does my friend assume the most generous option about me?

This is where we make a conscious effort to pick the most generous thought about our friend. Eg. If our friend is late, instead of jumping to ‘they’re always late. They probably picked something else as more important than me’ instead the more generous option is ‘my friend cares about me, I wonder if they’re ok or what’s held them up. I hope they’re ok’. 

Bring it to light. Actually have the courage to say to your friend, ‘Hey I’d like to talk about something’, and give them some context maybe say something about a situation that’s passed, OR because you feel a bit off in the friendship and because you value this friendship you thinks it’s important to address it OR if you just feel off but don’t know why, at the very least say that and ask if the other feels the same. If they say no, you’ve lost nothing. If they say yes, you may have just salvaged a friendship heading towards a bigger breakdown. 

Padre – Kind parishioners while sick

Stina – Jesus, I trust in you 30day personal retreat/reflection book (link: Jesus I Trust in You: A 30-Day Personal Retreat with the Litany of Trust: Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, S.V.: 9781645851448: Amazon.com: Books)

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