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How Do I Know When to Walk Away from a Friendship?



Friendships are amazing treasures to have in this life, but as I look at the beautiful picture of the dandelions, I am reminded that some friendships are not meant to be built or meant to stay.


Today we will explore an area of friendship that many of us might struggle with - how do we know when to walk away? I will try to explain using a parable that Jesus told his disciples about a man, a gardener and a barren fig tree (See Luke 13:6-9).


A man had a fig tree in his vineyard. For three years, he was constantly disappointed that it did not bear any fruits. Frustrated, he was ready to cut it down. But the compassionate gardener asked the man to give him one year to give the plant special attention. If it bore any fruits the following year, the plant would remain. But if not, it would be cut down.


Using the fig tree to represent a friendship, three things stood out to me about knowing when to walk away from a relationship:

  1. Be honest with ourselves about the poor state of a relationship. The man was truthful about the lack of fruits from the fig tree. I think that most of the time, we know when a particular friendship is unhealthy but we choose to be in denial.

  2. Be patient and commit to working on the relationship. In the parable, the gardener promised to dig around the fig tree and use manure to help it grow. In other words, it is best not to be rash but to give the relationship some time where we actually do something different. This could also be the opportune time to place the friendship in the hands of our Heavenly Father and Gardener, through continued prayer. (Note, this does not necessarily replace doing something different).

  3. Make a decision. Based on the result of the special care, the gardener was willing to keep it or cut it down, with no guilt. This one was actually hard for me to accept. Ecclesiastes 3:3 reminds us that there is a time to tear down and a time to build up. It means that situations like these are a part of being alive.

I totally promote the building of deep friendships because two are better than one, and there are rewards in having a friend (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). However, we all face those seasons when we have to decide if we will keep investing our time and energy in a relationship that is going nowhere -- and those seasons when a friend decides he/she is no longer investing in us (remember, this goes both ways).


Leave a comment below if you've ever asked yourself this question or message me at kasm@victoriousbydesign.com. Feel free to also share this blog post with someone who might need to hear this message.


By Kerry-Ann McPherson

Project Manager & Contributor

4 Comments


Unknown member
Sep 27, 2021

I guess it boils down to what we value about ourselves and the friend, to keep or not to keep. People will build bonds over the years but for odd reasons beyond my wisdom, can be easily destroyed. I've been in this spot unfortunately more than once. Breaks my heart sincerely. Would I help them if they really needed it from me? In a heartbeat. I've had to learn to love my friend from a distant, pray for them and continue living the best version of a friend I can be.

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Unknown member
Sep 28, 2021
Replying to

I have been there too and it can be a painful experience, even after years of building the relationship. But I’m grateful for what the friendships taught me and I can truly say that it was ok to walk away. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Althea!

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Unknown member
Sep 25, 2021

I have had to make that decision many times. Sometimes, you can see the friendship waining and must decided where you want to place your energy. Great read!

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Unknown member
Sep 26, 2021
Replying to

It is sooo true Paula!! It takes courage but we’ll be happy when we do it.

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