cull the herd
- Literally, to separate or remove (and usually kill) inferior animals out of a herd so as to reduce numbers or remove undesirable traits from the group as a whole.
- By extension, to separate or remove people from a larger group.
The usual blog about letting go of relationships, i.e., Culling the Herd, tells the world to dump the toxic and move on… I’m not there. There is value in every relationship – even if it’s just to learn a lesson about what we DON’T want in our lives. I’m not a hoarder, but I am a saver when it comes to friends and family. I believe in giving ‘another chance’… even if it turns out to be another chance to hurt me, ‘cuz more often than not, if I’m speaking from my heart and willing to hear what is being said to me, relationships that once had value for me… can have value again. Case in point:
I turned a guy down and, hurt and angry, he disappeared from my life for almost 40 years. He was a really close friend when we were kids and I absolutely loved him (but not ‘that’ way). Yes, we did have a long ‘break’, but when I extended the friendship flag he jumped to play! And now he’s back in my life and a really special friend again; with lots of great history.
Then there’s this woman (another friend from childhood) who, while not exactly toxic, was certainly annoying, depressive and negative. I take a break from her every few years, but the shared history and the surety that she’d totally be there for me if I needed her, keep bringing me back. And I’m not sorry.
Yes, there are the toxic relationships, too. I’ve had my share. Still, I don’t cut the cord until I’ve given it everything I’ve got. I cherish the people in my life and I’m slow to release.
Consider what your possibly cull-able friend brings to your life. You didn’t start the relationship to be hurt, angry, disappointed or miserable. What did you see that hooked you? For me, a true friend laughs with me and cries with me. We each value the happiness of the other. We respect each other’s principles, and encourage each other to be the very best possible version of ourselves.
If you each do all that (and possibly more) for each other – regardless of what issues you are facing in your relationship now, your friendship is probably worth fixing. On the other hand, if you feel happier, more content and more relaxed without this friend in your life; if it’s been quite a while since the friendship has had value for you and lifted you ‘up’, you have a pretty clear sign that you should go your separate ways – at least for now.
Admittedly, there are some situations where a friendship may be beyond repair and even a ‘vacation’ won’t work for you. If your friend has done something that you view as unforgivable, a deal breaker, it’s unlikely that your friendship is fixable. We all have different boundaries, limits and deal-breakers; oftentimes unspoken. And that, my friends, is the BIG PROBLEM! Know your boundaries and speak them – it will save you a lot of clean up time later! Don’t wait until they have pushed them too far.
Oh, and if perhaps you are the one who has failed to behave as a good friend should and you have tried to make amends and your ex-friend has made it clear that he or she is just not interested in working things out, you need to respect their wishes and move on. Well, at least until you think it’s safe to try for a do-over!