The Zombie rule: Understand that your friendships will change. If you don't, you are going to screw yourself
Remember back when I said there's three types of friends and that you should rock a small circle? If not, take a few seconds to read that post.
For those of you that are too lazy to do that, here's the summary:
- Acquaintances - People you know but aren't really tied to you.
- Friends - People that you love hanging out with and may count on. They can range from poor to awesome.
- Inner circle - People you trust completely; your best friends
Ok, so now that you're caught up, allow me to introduce the Zombie rule. In almost every zombie movie, there's a pack of people that are escaping the zombies and after a brief scuffle with the zombies, one of the people gets infected. This means that they will become a zombie in the very near future and start devouring the group. This person almost always tries to hide this fact.
Of course, there isn't anything that person can do to prevent becoming a zombie and eventually other people in the group figure it out. Most of the time, this person is a relative/a best friend/really-valuable-to-the-group and this creates a dilemma: does the group let emotions get in the way and keep this person around, knowing that the longer this goes on, the bigger threat the infected person poses; or do they make the hard choice of cutting this person out because it is for the best?
The same analogy can be made with your friendship groups, specifically your inner circle. There will be times in your life where your best friends slowly (or quickly!) fade away. This can happen because of communication (maybe you move away and are bad at keeping in touch), or the person freaks out about something they shouldn't and burns you, or the person uses some info from a private chat to get you in trouble or further themselves. Maybe this person starts dating someone and suddenly doesn't make time for you. Hell, it could be as simple as this person not really wanting to hang out solo for whatever reason. There are more reasons than I have time to list (maybe I'll make an appendix to the book), but in general, it will be obvious.
Once the person has started to float out of your inner circle, you have a decision to make: do you keep them around or do you let move them out to the next tier.
In a zombie movie it is clear cut: kill the person (at least leave them behind). In real life, it is hazier. In the best case, the person will move themselves out of the group by virtue of screwing you too many times or just falling out of touch. More often, this person may be cool part of the time but have an occasional slip up. When this is the case, you can decide how much is too much and when you push them out of the inner circle. Just remember, if you try to hang on to someone that is screwing you over, or is too cool to hang out, or is getting into trouble (read: crime/serious drugs/etc), that person is going to eventually become a zombie and really screw you. Cutting them earlier may be hard, but it is often for the best.
The good news: just because you're removing someone from your inner circle doesn't mean they are out of your life completely. Some people have moved from my inner circle but are still really good friends - they just don't have the opportunity to actually screw me. This is better for some of those friends too because they know I'm not going to count on them as much, which lowers the burden on their life.