When to “Fire” Your Friends

It’s kind of weird to be home after five weeks when I planned to be away for six months. Before I left, I made a promise to myself that I would address a certain area of my life once I get back. But now that I’m home, taking a hiatus, I’ve been forced to think about this problem again.

Let me explain…

The Sum of the Five People

Jim Rohn said it best in his quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” In other words, if you’re surrounded by crack heads, in all likelihood, you’ll probably become a crack head yourself.

I always think about this quote when I look at the people in my life. Like I said in an article about finding your passion, I have a number of friendships that truly inspire me to become a better person. On the other hand, I also have a few friends whom I feel only brought negativity into my life.

Here’s a personal example of what I mean…

My Friend Fletcher

Let’s talk about a guy I know whom we’ll call Fletcher (Got this name from the main character of the movie “Liar, Liar.”) I was friends with Fletcher for almost six years. He’s one of those guys who everyone likes because he’s personable and fun to be around.

On the other hand, Fletcher is a compulsive liar. I’m not talking about little ‘white lies.’ I mean he makes up complete fabrications about his life. In fact, it got to the point where every time he would tell a story, we would ask if it’s true or if it’s another “Fletcher Story.”

What’s bothered me most about Fletcher was the quote I mentioned before. Whereas I think most of the people in my life are inspiring, I also feel that my friendship with this person was pulling me down. While he’s fun to be around, he’s also completely and utterly unreliable.

“Firing” Fletcher

Now I won’t go into the gory details, but in late March there was an incident with Fletcher that was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.’ Once again, he did something that I felt was example of his poor character.

After this event, he sent a long-winded Facebook message defending his actions and then accusing me of not understanding his situation. Now I would like to say that I gave an eloquent response. But in truth, I ignored his email and phone calls. My logic was Fletcher has shown zero respect for me, so why should I spend another second on a friendship that no longer brought any value into my life.

Technically, I never officially ended my friendship with Fletcher. But I know he’s been told by a mutual friend that I no longer want him in my life. And I’m going to do my best to avoid any interaction with him.

In short, he’s been “fired” as my friend.

Drawing a Line in the Sand

I know like this seems like an extreme reaction. However, there’s a reason that I now have this mindset…

For over a year, I allowed a romantic relationship to pretty much destroy every friendship that I had in my life. (The only reason I still have these friendships is because I know some very forgiving people.)

When I look back on what I did during this period, I’ve come to the realization that I allowed one person to control the way that I thought. The funny thing is I only have myself to blame. The end result is I’m now hyper-vigilant about the relationships and friendships that I have in my life.

Currently I have the mindset where I ‘draw a line in the sand’ and no longer accept low-class behavior from the people in my life. If I feel like a friend has a core character trait that will only brings me down, then I’m not afraid to cut all ties with that person.

Firing the People in Your Life

Like I said, my reaction was pretty extreme. With that said, I think you really are influenced by the people in your life.

For example, if you want to ultimately quit your job and start your own business, this will be hard to do if everyone around you tells you it’s impossible. On the other hand, if you have great friendships, then you’ll be inspired to make this change in your life.

I challenge you to carefully examine the people in your life. I’m not saying you have to cut all ties with everyone who is negative. But perhaps you should limit your time with these individuals and seek out new friendships who push you to become a better person.

Remember you truly are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.

Take Action. Get Results.

16 thoughts on “When to “Fire” Your Friends”

  1. Oh, how I needed this today.

    I’ve spent the last 2 years working out the detritus of long term relationships that had ceased to function beneficially. Even today, a romantic relationship has me (again) questioning character to the point I’ve thrown up my hands & would much much rather sit in meditation on a mountaintop in Tibet. *smiles*

    Your words are just the push I needed to make clear my mind on healthy relationships. ty

    • Trust me, I know this feeling. That’s why I feel it’s sometimes the best thing to do to remove people from my life that only bring me down.

      Anyway, glad to hear that maybe this lil post gave you that push to make positive changes towards your relationships.

  2. Like you, I took a stance some years ago about not having damaging relationships in my life. The difference to my own life has been incredibly positive and it is now a part of my values system. I am not adovcating cutting people off at the slightest provocation but I do feel it is important to protect yourself from damaging relationships. Your post reminded me of that saying “you become what you surround yourself with”. On that basis I am now very careful who comes into my inner circle.

    • I agree that you should never remove people just because they make mistakes. But when someone has low-class character then maybe it’s time to get rid of that negative influence.

      I like your idea of being careful with the people you allow into your inner circle. I do something similarly with my life.

  3. It’s for romantic relationships to highjack our life and other relationships. Not saying it’s right, just it’s considered acceptable.

    • While I do think it’s important to focus on romantic relationships, I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t let this be the only thing in your life.

  4. Hi Steve,

    This is an excellent post. I think we all have friends that are not healthy for us in one way or another.

    I have one friend in particular that’s more like an enemy than a friend and I haven’t broken ties with her because we’ve known each other for 20 years. I always feel bad about not wanting her in my life.

    Your post has inspired me to tell her enough is enough. I don’t like how she treats me and I’m not putting up with it for another minute, let alone another 20 years.


    • That’s interesting…I had a female friend explain to me the other day about her concept of the “Freinenemy” where your friends with someone you don’t like.

      Anyway, I wish you the best of luck with your friend. Trust me, I know how hard it is to make a decision like this. But if you feel like this is the right decision, you can attract more positivity in your life by removing a negative person.

  5. I have recently done something similar. Not so much cutting negative people out, but cutting out those that dont bring or return the effort that I was putting into the relationship. I had a few friends, long time friends, almost 20 years that the relationship had turned into one where I was always reaching out to see what they were up to, to make plans for lunch, to hang out, etc…

    I finally decided that if they dont care enough about this relationship to put any effort into it, then why the heck should I..

    A line for a movie, not sure which movie, comes to mind: “If it doesn’t add value, it is a target for elimination”. They were speaking in business terms, but I think the same principle applies to most anything.. friendships, workout routines, diet plans etc…

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • Chris… I agree wholeheartedly with that quote. It might seem a little cold, but I firmly believe in ditching anything that doesn’t add value to my life- Even if it’s someone I’ve known for a long time.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment…hope to see you come back!

  6. I agree with this one hundred percent and intended to write an article on this but was a little worried about the backlash.

    I know someone who is about to completely do a 180 and fire most of his friends, online and offline. Not everyone, but especially the people who are “friends” but never interact with him.

    His perspective was that if I post something out there, my friends should interact with me. If they don’t then there’s no point to the relationship, which I agree with.

    I think the number game was important back in web 2.0 but now it’s about interaction and relationships.

    I’d give marketing money to someone who has 1000 friends who truly interact with him than someone with 100,000 friends that he never interact.
    .-= Omar´s last blog ..How to build an audience for your art =-.

    • Omar…you definitely have a ton of excellent points here. When it comes to online, we all definitely get trapped in the numbers game where we’re more worried about how many subscribers/readers/etc. But you’re definitely spot on when it comes to the philosophy that sometimes it’s more about the relationships you’re building.

  7. Hi.
    So true. Though I am trying something else to fire them . A wise guide said try unconditional compassion, define boundaries or see if there are some thoughts in us that are creating this.. Its very hard. It works sometimes. I like to just fire away though..But in all seriousness, u’re right. The people we meet effect us. so we must be careful. Thank u
    .-= Uzma´s last blog ..Destiny and the journey =-.

  8. I agree with firing your friend, but just ignoring him seems kind of immature. Why is the best solution to hide? What about at least taking his call, and completing the relationship? Maybe I’m missing something, but that seems like a much more respectable solution.

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