Distancing Yourself From a Friend

When You Can't Trust a Friend

Distancing yourself from a friend can help you establish safe boundaries.
Distancing yourself from a friend can help you establish safe boundaries. PeopleImages/Getty Images

We know that forgiveness is a powerful and healing force in a relationship, but there can also be a time when you want to move on from someone. Perhaps you have forgiven over and over in the past, and you feel as if your friend just does not understand how to be a friend. Maybe you have been hurt so badly that you can’t trust your friend again. Or maybe your pal just didn't “get it” when they behaved badly and think what they did is no big deal.

In times like this, you may feel the need to distance yourself from a friend. This decision can be permanent or temporary. Only you know what is the right thing for you and your friendship. Either way, you’ll still need to forgive before you can move on in a healthy way.

Shouldn't You Stay Friends If You Forgive?

A common myth is that if you forgive someone, you still have him or her in your life. But there are certain circumstances where you can forgive a friend and feel no ill will towards them, but still, prefer to move on with your life without them.

Some may assume that if you've moved on from a relationship you must be angry about it. This is not true. Moving on with forgiveness is simply stating that you wish the person the best (and mean it), you’re “over” the situation that caused a rift (however long or short the argument was), but you no longer want this particular friendship and all it brings, in your life. Maybe your friend was a continual negative influence and their repeated issues caused a lot of drama in your life. Or perhaps your pal disrespected your friendship in a big way and you no longer feel that it is a safe place for you.

In these instances, you forgive to rid yourself of the drama and hurt but move on to protect the sense of peace that your life deserves. There is a line between forgiving and repeatedly allowing someone to treat you badly.

Are You Holding on to Anger?

Unfortunately, people can hold on to a lot of anger before they allow forgiveness to transform their heart and emotions. Have you been harboring anger? Some signs that you are include:

  • Replaying the argument with your friend over and over.
  • Continually asking “why” (silently or to other people) things happened the way they did.
  • Becoming short-tempered with other friends in your life.
  • Assuming that other people will treat you the same as your friend did, so you stop trying with people.
  • Talking about your friend even though they aren’t around.

If you haven’t forgiven yet, take a moment to realize that holding on to the negativity of a past argument only prevents you from happiness now. Picture your heart as something that can only hold so much emotion, and when a certain percent of it is filled with anger, that portion cannot accept anything good. While that might be an odd thing to imagine, it is basically what you’re doing when you allow a previous hurt to cloud your present life.

How Do You Forgive If You've Already Moved on From a Friend?

But how do you forgive and move on? First, realize that the person you’re angry with probably is not thinking about it as much as you are. (Even if they were the one at fault.) This should help motivate you to let it all go.

Second, while your friend might have hurt you, you then made the smart step to get distance. You didn’t allow hurt to be a common theme in your friendship forever. You took action, and as hard as it was, it’s for your own health and peace of mind.

Now for the hard part, which is removing the pain that your friend’s carelessness left behind. Know that we all deal with repercussions for our actions in different ways. Your friend losing you as a part of their life was a big consequence of their behavior.

Also, we all make mistakes, and even when we don’t want to admit it, we learn from them. Some of us have to make the same mistake over and over before it sinks in. That might be the position your friend is in right now.

Most of all, forgiveness is a gift for you. It doesn’t mean your friend was right to hurt you but instead allows you to stop thinking about them and focus on your own life and happiness. You might not feel the love you once felt for your friend, but you don’t need to hate them anymore, either. In time, you will feel genuine affection for your friend, even if you still prefer not to have them in your life.

Watch Now: 5 Ways You Can Tell It is Love