I love the BBC programme ‘Flog It!’.  It’s a show where people take along their antiques & collectables, get the items valued & then they go to auction, so you get to see what they actually fetch when sold.  It’s by far & away my favourite thing on TV, although I feel I should add the disclaimer that I don’t watch it when it’s aired in the afternoon – thanks to the magic of the ‘series link’ option, every episode is recorded so I can watch it on those lovely evenings where you want nothing more than to lie on the sofa & stare at the box in the corner. 

The episode I watched this evening featured a silver photograph frame with the inscription ‘Friendship is love without his wings’, attributed to Byron.  I don’t actually think the quotation makes much sense, but it made me pause & reflect on my interactions with friends over the last few days.  In a forty-eight hour period, I’ve seen or had contact with quite a few different friends: some that I haven’t seen for a while, some that I see regularly.  And these recent encounters have been universally fulfilling; I’ve come away from each feeling good & uplifted.  Looking at each one of the friends involved, I know that they enhance my life & that I am a better person for knowing them. 

I guess this is the ideal.  All friendships should enrich our lives, in the bad times as much – if not more – than the good.  So often, though, this is not the case.  It’s awfully hard to admit but there are people who populate my life (especially my facebook homepage) that I would be better off without.  ‘Toxic friends’ is such a pop psychology cliche, but it’s true.  I’m sure we can all identify friends who we know are no good for us, whether that’s because of their actions or our feelings towards them.  This situation & my feelings gnaw away at my sense of integrity: what do I ‘do’ about these people?  Confront them with what bothers me?  Be honest & say ‘thanks for the memories but I can’t see you anymore’?  Ignore them & hope that the situation magically resolves itself?  It’s a cop-out but my default position is the latter.  It’s not a good way to be.  I feel like a coward.  But how can you ‘split up’ with a so-called friend?  This is especially hard to answer when you may have a group of mutual friends & you don’t want to put them in an awkward position. 

I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know what to do for the best.  I’ll probably just carry on in my default position, at least for now.  I’ll keep my eye out for a self-help book that promises a solution.  Or maybe I should ‘phone a friend’ & see what they say – just need to choose who carefully.

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