I clamped my lips tight as I silently tracked the passing miles. We were on our way to a New Year’s Day Resolution Run and, as usual, my friend Christine talked and talked and TALKED – about herself.

She talked about how much training she had been doing. She talked about the extra gym classes she had taken. She changed tactics briefly and talked about her family… and if I remember correctly, she even paused momentarily to ask me a question.

That is Christine. She is both competitive and a talker.

This was not news to me. Christine and I went to the same elementary, junior, and senior high school. Although we were not best friends, we did hang around each other. And a good part of the reason I limited my time with her was her tenacious habit of elaborating on her life down to every. last. detail.

Maybe you have a friend like Christine. Or one that clings desperately to you, gossips, steals your best ideas, talks on their cell phone constantly, brags about her Manolo Blahnik shoes and her brilliant kids, calls at supper time every night, or borrows your best sweater and brings it back with a pull in it. Whatever the offense, there comes a time when we consider calling it quits.

But before you pull the plug, here’s some food for thought:

1. What Else Does She Bring to the Relationship?

Loyalty? Acceptance? Does she make your laugh so hard you pee yourself? Does she have your back? Can you tell her your deepest secrets and know for sure it’s locked in the bank. I know that what I tell Christine stays with Christine, and that means a lot.

2. Does She Help You Push Your Limits?

Does she encourage you to keep going when you think about quitting? Is she a champion of your skills and talents? Can you freely bounce ideas off her without fear of ridicule? Does she bring out your own competitive streak in a good way? When Christine and I spend time together, we’re doing stuff. Active stuff. And, I’ll admit it. I’m lazy. But with Christine, I will peddle the extra 5 miles, walk faster, and go outside in the freezing cold more often. I’ve done a sprint triathlon, a mud run, and a bunch of 5k runs, and it’s all due to the encouragement and support Christine gives me.

3. Does She Respect Your Boundaries?

Does she insist on getting together even though you desperately need some time alone? Does she allow you to choose the activities equally? Is she upset when you spend time with other friends? Is she just plain nosy? Is she okay if you suddenly have to cancel plans? Christine and I have known each other a long time, and she respects my need to occasionally disconnect or even cancel plans if I am feeling overwhelmed.

4. Does Your Friend Keep You In The Real World?

Will she let you know if you are being an ass for no apparent reason? Will she answer honestly when you ask if your house smells like dog (yes, I’ve asked a friend this – and I hope she was honest!)? Does she yank your chain when you’re paying more attention to your cell phone than the parmigiana on your plate?

5. Can You Solve the Problem with Honesty?

Sometimes a simple but direct heart-to-heart-talk (handled lovingly) will make your friend aware of the situation and how much it bugs you. Conversations might be best opened using “I” or the sandwich technique. As in “I’ve decided this is the year I stop lending my books” or “I work so much harder when I’m biking with you, but I feel as if I am always supposed to compete. I prefer when you encourage me to do my personal best.” Or, you could just do what I did. When Christine started jabbering about her 6 mile walk again, I threw myself on her in a big hug, and jokingly remarked, “Oh, I know you’re Superwoman.”

6. Are you Under the Impression That You, as a Friend, Are Without Flaw?

Hahahaha…. Oh. I mean, really? As sanctimonious a friend as I can be, even I’m still aware of the annoying traits I possess. I’m whiny. And as mentioned before, I can be lazy. Combine the two and it’s a wonder Christine doesn’t use a whip to get me going. I can also be quite a grumpy friend without any apparent reason. So, if you are indeed a sterling model of friendship, then read on and make your final decision.

Finally, 6 questions to help you process the decision:

  1. Are you still annoyed hours or days after you’ve spent time together?
  2. Does she make you feel unimportant or an after-thought?
  3. Is she constantly taking advantage?
  4. Are you a better person with or without her?
  5. Is her life a hot mess and she’s determined you go down with her?
  6. If your friend were no longer in your life, would you feel a void (answer this question when you are NOT annoyed)

Human nature dictates that we are all going to get annoyed at the people closest to us from time to time. With some it simply happens more frequently than others. A look at the big picture can sometimes remind us why it’s good to stick around.

Featured photo credit: Annoyed/Feliciano Guimarães via flickr.com

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