I have lots of friends, but not many who are lifelong friends. I do have close friends but its not a forever BFF sort of thing. Over time our lives change; whether we get married, moved away, had kids, PCS'd, or just drifted apart. These were all valid reasons and while I still keep in contact with most of these friends, we just aren't as close as we used to be. Sure, I miss what we once had as friends but I've come to realize that some people come into your life for a short time and some were meant to be around longer. I value each and every close friendship I've had, for each one has brought joy into my life and I hope I've brought some into theirs. I've also learned something with each friendship and created some great memories with these friends.
But what about friendships that have just become toxic? We all have had those friendships where you have tried to repair or address the issues but it has changed nothing. Or you find out a friend has betrayed you in such a way, you can never trust them again. This is when you have to figure out how to "break up" with this friend, severing ties, instead of just letting the friendship drift apart naturally.
I thought once I was married, I was finished with this whole breaking up business! I haven't had to break up with many friends and I find the whole situation stressful, but to be honest it had to be done and we both needed closure. The friendship wasn't working for either of us, so why prolong the inevitable? My needs weren't being met and obviously I wasn't meeting their needs either.
Before you decide to break up with a friend, make sure you are really unable to salvage the relationship. Have you tried to talk to them about what they have done to offend or hurt you? At one point, this person was a close friend. You should give them the opportunity to explain themselves and salvage the friendship.
If you have already exhausted all friendship repair efforts and nothing has changed, then its time to move onto the break up stage.
Here are my tips for breaking up with a friend:
- Make it short, sweet, and to the point. Don't ignore their phone calls or texts just because you are too uncomfortable to discuss the situation. At one point, you were close friends and because we are all adults here, you owe them the closure of ending the friendship.
- While you may want to vent and list all of your so-called friends' offenses, don't do it. If you are at the point of having a break up talk, then you are at the point of not making up. Listing all their wrong-doings will do nothing more than make everyone angry and bring unneeded drama to the situation.
- Don't suck mutual friends into the situation. The issue is between you and the offending friend and it should be kept that way. Remember we are all adults here...
- Have the discussion either face to face or over the phone. Don't do it over text or Facebook!
- After the break up, its time to move on and leave the issues with that friendship alone. The friendship is done and over with, so there should be no more talking about it especially with mutual friends. Okay, you can talk about it but keep it limited to your parents and your spouse (they have taken a vow of secrecy, right?).
I would like to say the hardest part is over with, but I would be lying if I did. It is very likely you and this now un-friend have friends in common. You will probably have to face this person again in social situations down the road. You really have to deal with your hurt feelings as an adult here, no gossiping! You don't want to be involved in a "he said, she said" situation that erupts in drama the next time you see this person. Don't put your mutual friends in this position. If you can't say anything nice about the person you unfriended, then don't say anything at all. This goes back to not involving your mutual friends in the dispute, don't make them chose sides! How would you feel if they did the same to you? Just because the friendship didn't work out with you, doesn't mean they aren't good friends to someone else.
Likely you will have hurt feelings about the situation with this person. Trust me, I know this is hard to deal with. I encourage you to find a productive way to work through your hurt feelings. Sometimes, the hurt will go away soon after ending the friendship. I hope that is the case for you. But sometimes it takes alot longer to work through the betrayal you feel. I find when I start feeling negatively about a person, if I find a way to distract myself until its no longer in my head and I feel alot better. I hate harboring such angry feelings towards an individual and no matter how much I try to reason it out, my emotions get the best of me. It gets better as time passes but I think a part of me will always be hurt, especially because they think they did nothing wrong. I just have to let it go and move on, its no longer worth my time & worry.
Its a natural part of life, people come and people go. Some people go from close friends you talk to daily to people you occasionally (s)talk to on Facebook. Life happens, we change, its an always evolving situation. Some people stick around forever, while some are there for short term. It doesn't mean you didn't value the time you had together because it wasn't a lifelong friendship.
Usually, friendships just drift apart naturally and hopefully there isn't much drama associated with it. Sometimes though you find yourselves in a toxic friendship and you need to know when & how to sever those ties.
Have I always followed my rules for ending a friendship? Definitely not. Had I wished I had? Most definitely. Let my mistakes teach you, save yourself the heartache and drama.