In the past couple of months, I’ve tried something new: I’ve removed people from my life who were not adding anything to it. I de-friended on Facebook. I unfollowed on Twitter. I stopped responding to emails.
This is so unlike me.
Google any personality traits for “Pisces” and you’ll know exactly who I am: guided by emotions, intuitive, compassionate. But the quality that is a curse as much as it is a blessing is assuming the best in everyone. I’ve always thought that when people act like jerks, it’s just because they haven’t been emotionally moved enough to be convinced to do the right thing instead. It’s not that I don’t stick up for myself, but that I assume everyone can be appealed to rationally. If only I just explained to them … !!!, I think.
Being like this was frustrating.
It means putting up with a lot of crap from people. Over the past couple years, I found myself growing increasingly hurt by and resentful of people who didn’t act “right” time and time again. I made excuses for them. I tried to see things from their POV. And I would still get worked up into a froth when they acted like a dick.
I guess the biggest, most meaningful person I eventually cut out of my life was a colleague I had genuinely considered to be a friend. We’d known each other for years and had hung out many a time. I had shown generosity towards her in several ways. I had first thought it was a bit off when an important relationship that I had been in suddenly ended and I barely heard a peep from her. She had hung out with this guy and me multiple times. But when we broke up, she never called me to ask how I was doing and if I wanted to hang out. I felt really hurt.
Over the next few years, there were other behaviors that didn’t sit right with me, namely asking me to do things for her without any reciprocity whatsoever. Instead of hurt, I just felt more and more annoyed by her; in fact, I was starting to think that she was a clinical narcissist (i.e., someone who thinks they are better than other people and therefore not required to treat people properly). I finally decided to cut the ties when there was an opportunity for her to have my back and instead she just piled on, making things harder. There was really no reason at all, I decided, that this person deserved to be in my life. There was no reason at all that I should be allowing myself to get so upset by her.
So I cut back our interactions by 100 percent: I removed her from Facebook and from Twitter, I didn’t respond to emails and I haven’t seen her in social settings, either. It was actually kind of a relief to know she was gone — although I realize a lot of that psychological relief came from deciding to end our friendship, not just the fact she could no longer read my tweets. Other people who annoyed me more than they added to my life quickly followed. Hey, while I’ve got the shears, why not trim all the hedges? Not surprisingly, it gets easier and easier to do as I remove people from my life. I feel fairly confident now that if someone’s proven to be a jerk, they’re out.
At first, I worried a little bit if they’d notice that they’d been removed from social media and that I wasn’t responding to emails. Creating a weird confrontation wasn’t the point, of course. They were removed from my life because I didn’t care anymore, not because I wanted a confrontation about it. One person did notice his digital excision and asked what was up. I do feel guilty that I haven’t responded (yet). But I also have to remind myself of all the things that happened to frustrate me so much and cause me to cut them out.
Honestly, I am happier in my friendship realm after cleaning house like this. It’s great having friends who don’t piss me off! Even though it hasn’t been a very long time yet that I’ve been “jerk-free,” the fact that there are fewer incidents of great annoyance is obvious. Overall, I feel less angry, frustrated and resentful than I used to feel when I was stuck in that vicious cycle of trying to rationalize other people’s jerky behavior.
But the best part of all is that it has opened up space in my heart for new friends. In the past month alone, I’ve hung out repeatedly with three different new women friends, all of whom are really cool. It didn’t occur to me until I started writing this piece that maybe the reason they all “appeared” at once was because, having cleaned house, I myself was sending out more open vibes.
I’m never going to be completely comfortable removing people from my life. I am the personification of “Can’t we all just get along?” But even though it means going out of one’s comfort zone, I highly recommend it.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@theFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.