I’m sure we have all read about how we should discard the people in our lives who are emotionally draining, who don’t deposit into the “friendship” bank enough to balance out the incessant withdrawals they make, who are verbally and emotionally abusive, and who generally suck the life out of us. We should dispose of the rotting remains of something that was quite possibly beautiful at one point but has turned rancid because of grudges or mistakes or general life changes. We are told again and again to cut the dead weight…But when it comes to our personal situations, we seem to make a dozen excuses as to why we must keep a particular happy-suck in our life.
Technology has made it really easy to maintain relationships these days…even the ones that would have naturally evaporated away in a simpler time. This means that it takes a few seconds to reach out and connect with someone who you probably should have left in 2009. Casual connections via social media allow us to remain attached to people we have outgrown. This is bad. We allow people to become dementors who suck everything good out of the world and leave us grumpy, shaken, uncomfortable, and desperately craving chocolate.
Here is a bit of advice for you, and for me to reiterate to myself: just cut them out. Slice off that diseased lump of rotting flesh and cauterize the wound. Make yourself your own patronus and scare off the dementors.
But what about second chances? We are supposed to give second chances!
He-hem, I am the queen of second chances. I give second chances so quickly that I’m usually on the forth or fifth one before I realize that I fell for the bullshit again. I have found that once someone shows me that they will be exiting my life (because they cheated or lied or stole or hit me or insulted me or wouldn’t stop texting me Mariah Carey lyrics at 4 am), I am probably going to give them a give them an undeserved second chance because people change, right?
Okay, maybe that’s harsh. Some people may change. I’ve seen it twice. But generally, people aren’t too emotionally intelligent to understand why their actions are harmful and they will continue to treat you poorly. They will probably not change, because they don’t want to change.
So if you’re going to give a singular second chance, hold them at a distance. Study their actions and if you see that behavior resurface, let them go and don’t look back.
But we need to be tolerant of others’ opinions! I can’t cut someone out because they disagree with me.
I wouldn’t suggest that you cut someone off because they like Nickleback, but some opinions are actually intolerable and should be eradicated from society. “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” I will not tolerate racism, sexism, or any -ism that proves someone is choosing to be close-minded. If I try to inform them of why their comment is hateful and I get bullied, I know that person is a piece of shit who is unwilling to hear why they might be wrong.
Okay, but what if I need this person for something later?
Oh boy, this is a big one for me, and it is a little tough for me to admit that I have tended to keep people in my life who treat me badly “just in case” I need something later. The world is a series of networks and people and social connections. When we burn bridges, we can seriously affect our chances to get that job or make that deal. Right?
If I have to subject myself to being treated poorly, you can take that job/beach house/knowledge about programming and shove it. No one deserves to endure horrible treatment on the premise that the perpetrator might be useful later on. You don’t need that treatment now and you can guarantee the bad treatment won’t stop once you cash in that favor. In fact, it will be even worse.
But isn’t it rude?
If you’re a total asshole about cutting them out, then yeah, probably. Sometimes that rudeness might be necessary to get your message across to your ex-friend/acquaintance/lover/family member/stranger from the Internet who is rude to you. But if you have repeatedly tried “Hey, man, I feel like shit when you ______. Perhaps you can _______ and we can work together to maintain this relationship. I sure would appreciate it.” and they continue their shitty behavior? Then it’s time to cut the cord. If you are upfront about your emotions and how you feel, then you shouldn’t feed like it was rude.
But if you just choose to end contact swiftly without an explanation and it helps you not wince every time you see your phone light up wondering, “What on earth it is now?”:
I have removed contact from five different people who have been total jerks to me this week. It is only Wednesday. Two of them I have known and maintained a semblance of a friendship with for ten years. They are out. Another one? Two years. The last two? A few months. All of them were on their 5+ chance to become decent people and friends and they failed miserably. No one is irreplaceable.
And you deserve better. There are 7.6 billion people on this planet. Go find the good ones.