Firing Your Friends: Episode 268

Firing Your Friends: Episode 268

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Listen to this week's show!


We’ve all been there — at a point where a friendship has become either stagnant or downright toxic — and it’s time to cut the cord. But saying goodbye isn’t always easy, nor are our motives for doing so always good. Our panel talks about evaluating a friendship and determining why and how to back off, back out, and move on.


We spend much of our time at work, so wouldn’t it be great if everyone on the job could just get along? Whether a lazy team member, gossipy assistant or overbearing boss, it’s a fact that most workplaces are home to at least a few difficult people — hey, it could even be you. Elizabeth Brown wrote Working Successfully with Screwed-Up People to help us navigate the world of on-the-job drama.


She's done small groups, singles groups, online dating, setups, meetups and more. It hasn't worked. Is she doing something wrong? Candice Watters offers advice and encouragement.

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  • The inbox question was so real there are so many who have the same question including me, Candice's answer was great as always but I think Lisa brought more reality to it as she walks the same path as us and as right the answers are, it is still a difficult thing and God is good in his mercies as he enables us to walk this path. I just wanted to add, though this might be the reality of our lives we have a great high priest who understands the pain and anguish and let him be our refuge in the way that only he can be. My prayers for all of us walking this path until we reach Gods perfect will for our lives.

  • Wow, so very timely! No kidding, I'd been thinking this week, "it'd be great if Boundless addressed this." Merci beaucoup du Canada!

    Deborah, I'll join you in that prayer.

  • I haven't had a chance to listen the entire podcast, but I went straight to the inbox question and listened to that segment when I saw the topic.  I didn't write that question, but I could have.  It's a question that I've asked myself, my mentors, my friends, my mom, etc.  Most of them give an answer much like Candace's answer.  Those answers are good, solid, and valid, but I've heard them so many times.  Be patient.  Wait.  Remember that God's timing is not my timing.  God is in control.  Realize and accept that God might not plan for me to get married...ever.  Focus on becoming like Christ.  Trust God.  

    Sometimes I just need something that seems more practical and "real life."  Something like what Lisa said.  She didn't just offer up a pat answer about what I "should" do or strive toward as a single.  She IS a single like me (though she's a little older.)  She gets it.  She knows what it's like.  And she still struggles from time to time.  Even though she is trying to wait on God, trust in Him, be patient, etc., she's still single, and she knows she might not ever get married in spite of that desire.  And even though her life isn't what she thought it would be at this point relationship-wise, she knows that she'll be OK.  That's what I want.  To know that if I never get married, I'll be able to say "I'll be OK because God is with me in this."                

  • Thanks for the insights into friendship! Even as adult, or maybe more so, it can be difficult to make friendship work.

  • @MissC

    You are speaking my language!  I so understand how you feel.  I have never married, I am well over 30, and I have heard so many of those answers I could write a book about it.  "Trust in God", "Fall more in love with Jesus", "Use this season of singleness to serve the Lord", "Wait on God".  I don't want to mock those statements.  There is certainly rich truth in all of them, but they don't really address the constant ache in my heart of never having married, never bearing children, and the fear that this is how my life will be indefinitely.  What do I do with my life?  How can I find joy and happiness if I never become a mother and wife?  Can Jesus really replace marriage and motherhood?  I've read just about every Christian singles book out there looking for encouragement, answers, advice that I could use.....and I have found them all to be wanting.

    Let me encourage you in this:  God knows us Christian single women.  He has not forgotten us or overlooked us.  He loves us.  He knows we are struggling.  And He has His reasons for allowing us to go through these struggles.  Looking to Him and His Word has helped me so much.  The answers I have found were not the ones I expected, but they have given me a measure of peace, a hopeful look to the future, and a purpose to pursue even if marriage doesn't come.

    Blessings, sister!

  • I haven't listened to the podcast yet. I'm just reflecting on topics listed in the summary.

    On friendship: I have a broad definition of friendship. I count people as friends, no matter what they do. I believe that this attitude truly embraces the idea of "unconditional love." That being said, I avoid putting myself in unsafe, compromising situations with friends who make unsafe, unwise choices. WIth that being said, while boundaries might need to be set in certain friendships, I think it is sad when people come to a point when they say they are no longer friends with someone.

    Granted, there is a difference in friendships when comparing acquaintances to close friends. Granted, there is a difference in friendships with people who do good things and people who do evil things. I think that it is unfortunate that, basically, some people give up being friends with others when those people have such opportunity for being a life-changing genuine friend to another person. When you cannot talk to the other person because of an unsafe situation, you can pray for that friend.

    At times, GOD completely gives up people to their hardened hearts and unrepentant sin ["Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts" -Romans 1:24(KJV version)]. Yet, I am not GOD. I do not have the mind of GOD. Since I have not the mind of GOD, shouldn't I be a friend to all, not knowing who has completely hardened their hearts to GOD and who is still open to allowing GOD to work in their lives?

    A thought on the workplace: you save yourself a lot of grief if you choose not to reactively engage in unnecessary power struggles.

    Thoughts on the inbox question: Nate recently referenced Romans 12:15b in talking about singleness. I'm posting the whole verse here, KJV version, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." -Romans 12:15. This verse has really stuck with me recently. It has really hit me hard that even though I'm not in mourning mode about singleness-wanting-to-be-married, other people are, and I might find myself in that mode someday. I have been personally challenged to genuinely mourn with others about things that I might never mourn about or not mourn very much about in my own personal life.

    Share Scripture. Give good advice. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." -Romans 12:15 (KJV version).

  •  I really appreciated the discussion about friendships. I think moving into a new season of life forces us to reconsider who our friends are and if it is the right reasons.

     Having recently got engaged, my fiancée and I just finished cutting our invitation list down to size.  It really revealed a lot about what friendships were truly important and who we wanted to keep in our lives. A lot of my friendships in college were based on mutual interests, but is that enough to send them an invitation? What if we were close at one point, but have drifted since college?  Should I use this big day as an opportunity to reinvolve them in my life? What do I do about the girls I've been close friends with, but she never got to know at school? Should I dissolve those friendships or put defined boundaries in place?

     In the end, I was very thankful for my future wife's insights into friendship. She is more in tune to peoples feelings and emotional needs.  She encouraged me to keep some names on our list that I would have regretted removing later. And my practicality served us well when she wanted to invite more people than the church would hold!  So with a lot of prayer and a couple evenings of discussion, we got our list right down to the number we wanted.  And in the process, I rediscovered just how important some friendships have been in making me who I am, and what friendships I was holding onto for the wrong reasons.

  • I may need to re-listen to the roundtable segment, but the title ("Firing Your Friends") didn't seem to fit. The way the discussion went, it was more "Growing Past Your Friends" or "Letting Go of Friendships"--but the issue of purposefully and intentionally cutting off former friends was really given short shrift. Is it because we're all just too nice, and don't want to talk about it?  Because there's a need for it.  This is a real issue in my life, so I guess I just see this as more pressing.

    I'm in a ministry position at church, so I get the opportunity to pour into the lives of the people around me. I became friends with a guy a few years ago that I tried to take on in an accountability/mentoring role, which he seemed amenable to (at first). After years of frustration and near-suffocation, I had to forcibly push back. The friendship became incredibly draining and toxic to me, but I'm one of the few who are really reaching out to this guy.  After several months of no contact, we're slowly trying to reestablish a friendship, but I can already see signs that nothing has changed.

    I'm generally a compassionate and encouraging person. I'm always willing to help people in my church family. But some people are emotional vampires, due to psychological make-up or traumatic circumstances. Scripture challenges us to love the brothers, even the difficult ones. But there must be a limit when a really unhealthy person should no longer be given access to your life.

    Anyone have any experience with this?

  • I don't find Candice's advice very encouraging. It reinforces my fear that God has given me  a desire for marriage but has no intention of letting me marry. That seems cruel. Now does me being frustrated over this help me or give Him glory?

  • I have endured a toxic friendship. There was somebody I considered a friend who had a problem with everything I did and began stalking me. This person soon became a hazard to my personal safety, so I had to sever that connection. I didn't even bother explaining myself or even saying goodbye. I cut the cord, and I don't ever want to see that person again.

  • Culture

    I have had so much trouble finding, obtaining, and holding a good job for so long that I find taking it slow and easy to be extremely troublesome. I still have no clue why God has taken me through so many long periods of nothingness, but I want to get a job as soon as possible and be as productive as possible every single day. Sometimes I believe that God truly wants me to waste my life doing nothing. If I ever work again, I will need help with the slow days.

  • Inbox

    I am in my late twenties, I have never dated, and I truly don't care about women. I would much rather stay single than have a family. I don't see how I could possibly give glory to God as a married man with children. All I truly want is a career. I don't need to achieve the "American Dream." I just want to apply myself. Maybe I should consider the possibility that I can only be sanctified through never working again. I just feel so helpless.

  • I have not listened to the Podcast yet, but I wanted to comment on the below

    "We’ve all been there — at a point where a friendship has become either stagnant or downright toxic — and it’s time to cut the cord. But saying goodbye isn’t always easy, nor are our motives for doing so always good. Our panel talks about evaluating a friendship and determining why and how to back off, back out, and move on."

    I had to do that a lot over the last year. A lot of my closest friends have moved out of state, have boyfriends, or are engaged to other guys, thus our communication time has dwindled. Some of those friendships I have to let go to the wayside mostly, some I keep in contact with. However, I been trying to make male friends for the last 5-6 years now to mostly no avail. I am just not a guys, guy. Nor do I bond in the same way most men bond, relate in the way most men relate, I don't like war movies, or battle movies(while I love John Elderdege Braveheart, The Matrix and Gladiator all are mind numbingly boring, dull and put me to sleep movies, which Mens men seem to love for some reason). Outside of watching Football I don't care to ever play sports unless I have to to be around people, I don't care for guns, cars, fire, explosives, hunting, fishing, camping, building stuff with my hands, building stuff with hammers, screwdrivers, or other tools, I hate grilling as well, etc. I have very particular taste buds so I don't care for hot foods of any kind, and I don't like wings, ribs, or anything really sauced. I don't put butter on biscuits, or bread of any kind unless I have to, don't do Mayo unless with Tuna which then its very light(I eat just meat and cheese on bread), I don't do mustard, though I do like Ketchup, etc.

    I like candle making, reading, writing, chess(its sad that so few people play this anymore), Texas Hold'em, watching TV, watching movies, dancing randomly to music in my apartment, or on walking trails with my Iphone playing music, etc, etc.

    I realized recently through recent events, that God calls us to guard our hearts above all else, and to love him with all our minds.  I have spent way, way, way to many times psyching myself up thinking that maybe, just maybe this next time of trying to bond with other guys might be different and that is not loving God with all my mind, its deluding my mind. That leads to a wounded Heart each and every time, thus the best way to Guard my heart for me, I found out is going to be just to cut off myself from men in general as much as I can, not to lie to myself, or think I might ever have strong male friendships( I do have older mentors I talk to once a month), but its just damaging to my mind, body and soul to keep living the lie, that maybe that next time will be different. I have male friends I care for and spend time with every couple week, but I just decided that the best thing for me, is to focus on the female friends whom I can bond with, because they bond and relate in the same ways that I do, those whom have my backs in the ways I need them to, when I need them to, which most often is not men. Then when my future wife and I start dating, to slim that other relation down and just to focus on time with mentors and my church responsibilities and work responsibilities, and solo hobbies.

    I just cannot keep trying, and trying and trying and investing my mind and heart into the idea, that I am supposed to bond with other men, when I just can't do it. I just don't like the stuff most men like nor do I relate the way most men relate. That's just not how God made me. He didn't make me to Bond with other men, or have strong male friendships with people my own age.

    So what that means is cutting times with how much time I spend with the guys whom are in my life right now.

  • I too very much appreciated Lisa's answer--not that I didn't appreciate and fully agree with Candice's, but when you've heard that kind of response 100s of times, it's very refreshing to hear a reminder instead that as the years go by and hope for marriage continues to be deferred, Jesus will walk right with you through it, that He will always be there, and His mercies are new every morning, no matter what.


    "Looking to Him and His Word has helped me so much.  The answers I have found were not the ones I expected, but they have given me a measure of peace, a hopeful look to the future, and a purpose to pursue even if marriage doesn't come."

    Amen to that!

  • In the roundtable segment, I really liked Chelsea's comment about the way friends' attitudes can affect your outlook on life.  So true.

    Miss_Practicality - I think you are right on with your comment about weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice.  As I go through different seasons in my life, I can lose sight of what it's like to be in certain situations.  The thing is, that it doesn't matter if I know what it is like or not - I've been given ears to listen and a shoulder to lean on and those are often the most honouring gifts that one friend can give to another.

    DMitchell - I was also hoping from the roundtable segment to hear a bit more about when and how to actually cut off a friendship.  I have had a few experiences in the past year that have made me more aware of the necessity of difficult decisions with friendships.  Like the situation that you mentioned, they all involved some element of mental illness, trauma, and especially emotional "vampirism" (a lurid, but fitting term).  I still wrestle with the way I handled each of the situations, mostly because I genuinely did care for those friends.  However, our relationships were at the point were it was no longer healthy for *me* to remain in close contact with them.  Part of letting friendships go is definitely a matter of trusting that God can take care of them when you are no longer involved in their lives - that you can't be their "saviour" and that God Himself will provide for their needs.  I had to completely cut off one of the relationships (no contact whatsoever), while another one has become much more one-sided (I don't proactively contact her anymore).  Both of these decisions have resulted in a peace that I had been lacking for over a year because of the emotional drain that these friendships had on me.  That peace is what confirmed for me that I had made the right decision.

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