When friendships fall apart... III

... because people change

You hear people say a lot “real friends don’t judge. They are happy for whatever makes the other person happy.”

That's true – but only to a certain extent.

Friends are friends because they have something in common. But if one person changes or follows a different route in life, or makes a decision the other one doesn’t agree with, it is hard for a friendship to continue the same as it has been.

A Christian friend of mine at uni started to withdraw from church and spend lots of time with another girl at our college. Eventually it turned out that they were having a lesbian affair. Yep. It was hard to be friends with her.

Another Christian friend went through a difficult situation when her husband left her after only 6 years of marriage. We spent a lot of time together, reading the Bible, and trying to understand what happened, and how things could be resolved.

Then she started meeting less often. She’d been out to a nightclub, met a new fellow and was now sleeping with him. I found it very difficult to keep the friendship at the same level that it had been.

Obviously, you should be wise about what things really do show a 'different direction' and what things are merely trivial.

For example, if your friend turned vegetarian, and you didn't really have strong opinions about it, but you found it slightly annoying, this probably wouldn't be something your friendship would fall apart over. (If it did, you might have some control issues you needed to look at!)

But if you were both ardent vegetarians and you had built your life around your beliefs, and your friend turned into a meat eater, you might find it very difficult to hang out with them any more.

This is an area for wisdom and prayer.

You can’t control your friends, nor should you try. You can’t make anyone do what you would do. But you can express your opinion, if asked for.

If you really can’t continue in the friendship, express why – honestly and with love - to your friend.

If you change, you may expect your friendships to change too, even if you change in good ways, not bad. People who come out of alcoholic or drug addictions often say that their friendships change because they no longer do what they did before.

What can you do? Understand that people do change. And relationships will often change too. You can’t expect someone to stay the same all their lives. Support people as far as you can, don’t try to control them.

But if it’s impossible for you to stay in the same friendship with them, tell them, grieve the loss and find new friends.