“Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Kimberly Wilkins’ popular saying went viral–for good reason–in 2012 after being interviewed about a fire at her apartment complex, referring to the bronchitis she received as a result of the smoke. If you’re a parent, you know you literally do not have extra time for anything, especially when it comes to “fake” friends.
“If you can’t genuinely be yourself, who needs them anyway?” asks Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Therapist Mallory Williams. Williams says it’s “absolutely okay” to cut a friend out of your life if they aren’t bringing value.
“You don’t want a friendship to be constant work,” she says. “If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, you may need to reevaluate that relationship. People have bad days, sure, but that’s different from someone who is a constant negative influence. We forget that boundaries are okay to set sometimes. It is okay to say, ‘no,’ if you’re advocating for yourself.”
Cue: Ain’t nobody got time for that.
It’s OK to Break Up with Fake Friends
“If a person has betrayed your trust in the past, then that person doesn’t have your best interest at heart,” says Emily Major, LCSW. “It becomes a situation where self-awareness is key. You have to realize these people aren’t the best people to be around, especially if they’re pulling you emotionally one way or the other.” And that’s completely okay, she says.
“All of our lives are stressful,” Major says. “A lot of that is stress we can’t control, but we can control the friendships and who we allow in our lives. If a certain friendship no longer benefits you, it’s okay to cut ties.”
Jami Redmond, who has a four-year-old son, Cash, recommends using ‘mom intuition,’ when deciding if a friend is fake. “I’ve always been very cautious to whether or not people were lifting me up or bringing me down,” she says. “If something feels off, then it probably is. If you need to move on, be polite. Life is too short to waste time on anyone who doesn’t have you or your child’s best interest at heart.”
The Value of Logging Off
Fake friends not only present themselves in real life, but online as well. It is important to remember that social media is only a highlight reel of our lives. The photos we post have filters, and only the best of the best make the cut on getting actually getting posted.
“Do you put your best self on Facebook, or do you put the real authentic you? You put your best self,” Williams says. “I do not put that I stepped in my daughter’s Cheerios bowl because she sat it on the floor. Instead, we post the picture of the five-course meal we cooked, but we do not mention that we burned the bread or spilled the can of mushroom soup.”
Major says social comparison is a real issue. “A lot of women fall into the rabbit hole of scrolling and scrolling and then log off and feel isolated and bad about themselves,” she says. “It’s unreal and a skewed sense of reality. It’s crucial to spend down time off of social media.”
Redmond says if you ever feel judged or overwhelmed by social media, simply take a step back. “Nothing about Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter should make you feel bad about yourself,” she says. “If it doesn’t serve you–whether it’s social media or a friendship–let it go.”
IRL (In Real Life)
Redmond says it’s very important for her sanity to maintain her social life alongside her mom friends because it’s important to her to know that she’s not alone. Redmond says her IRL friendships are a godsend, and Williams agrees that they’re crucial.
“It’s those generational friendships that help talk to that shame and tell you that you’re not broken and you’re not a bad mom,” Williams says. “Those friendships are the ones that tell you, “Look, I did this yesterday, so it’s okay that you did that.” It is so helpful to have that reminder that you are human just like the rest of us. Your kids benefit from seeing you not be perfect.”
Tiffany Favre, local mom to two, says she makes it a point to connect with her friends at least once a month. She believes women are designed to need relationships with other women. She also says it’s important to her to remember that any disagreements between her children and her friends’ children are just that–disagreements between children–and to not let their arguments come between you and an IRL friend.
“We all make mistakes,” Favre says. “That’s part of parenting. A real friend isn’t going to take pleasure in your fall, but instead support you in learning where you went wrong.”
How to Not be a Fake Friend
Sometimes being a real friend can be as simple as checking in. Maintaining friendships is hard, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. A simple phone call, text, email, or Facebook message saying, “I’m thinking about you, have a good day,” could–and does–go a long way.
“We’re under the impression that if we see our mom friend and she’s smiling and laughing, then she must not be struggling with anything, but that’s absolutely not the case,” Major says. “We all have daily stressors, and we all need a support system at the end of the day. Make sure you’re reaching out, whether it’s to schedule a playdate or alone time without kids. Check up on your friends whether you think they’re struggling or not.”
Favre believes those who appear to have it all together are the ones possibly going through the hardest struggles.
“My laundry room stays cluttered by mounds of both dirty and clean clothes, my golden retriever needs a bath and haircut 90 percent of the time, and I roll through carpool (sometimes Albertsons, too) in my PJ pants, flip flops and no makeup,” she says. “That’s called life. Just because someone’s house appears to be kept in pristine condition, they post all of the monogrammed cookies they send to school, and look like a supermodel at every school event, doesn’t mean they have it all together. We all have different shoes we fill and different paths God has us walking,” she says.
Williams notes that it’s important to let your friends know you’re there for them. When it comes to having real friendships, Williams says, “I don’t know how we survive without them.” ■