Like every relationship, not every friendship lasts forever. It could be a simple matter of falling out, or a series of wrongs that piled on over and on top of each other. Or maybe, after a long time, you realize you were friends not because you cared or complemented each other, but because it was convenient.
That’s okay. It happens.
And it sucks. It’s okay that you feel bad for the friendship to end–that means you cared, you did your part and it might be time to burn the bridge. Like romantic breakups, friendship breakups are also difficult. Here’s how to make them suck a tiny bit less.
Who’s The Bad Friend?
First, you need to identify what a toxic relationship is. Why has it crossed your mind to break up with this friend? Why do you want to cut this person out of your life? Is she intentionally doing things to spite you? Is she hurting your feelings? Does she make you feel bad every time you meet?
Well, that is a toxic relationship and you need to end that.
Taking a Step Back
So you have a toxic relationship at hand. The next thing you need to do is to decide what you want to do about it. As a grown woman, you can’t keep running away from your problems. You have to pick which route is best for the two of you.
Every relationship is unique, so you’re the best judge. Here are three options that you can choose from:
Option One: Set Boundaries
The boundaries you set will ultimately depend on what you need. Do you need more space? Do you want to hang out less?
If you don’t have any specific needs, then simply say something simple like, “I still want to be able to hang out, but I have to admit I just can’t do it as much as I used to because my life is changing.” And I’m not sure where you are in that change. Or maybe not say that last line.
Now, if they don’t respect your boundaries, re-evaluate your other options.
Option Two: Ghosting
The slow fade-out friendship action honestly only happens when you’re on the same boat. It’s important to explain to your friend what you have in mind and make sure they are on the same page, too. It’s essentially the ghosting of a friendship, except you’re both pulling away for your own reasons.
You can list down your own reasons, or keep them to yourself. This is the option if you’re the non-confrontational type. But, psychologists warn that this scheme is prone to hesitation, confusion or hurt, so it still requires a small brand of frankness and well, a conversation, ideally face to face.
Option Three: Confrontation
Now, a word of caution before you go sending that cryptic that goes like, “I need to talk to you.” After all we are all adults here.
If you want to do it this way, you have to plan the conversation ahead. Remember to only talk about you and your needs and avoid, at all costs–if possible–bringing up their shortcomings. Say, “I’m headed in a different direction and I can’t devote as much time to us anymore.” Don’t say, “You are a bad friend.”
BUT. You could say something along those lines, just… not like that.
How? Glad you asked.
Psychologists say it’s normal to want to bring up how much they hurt you. It’s OK to want to talk about where things went wrong. But, here’s the deal: you have to be realistic about what they’ll be willing to hear. Of course, you’re entitled to say how you feel.
But do you want to tell them how much they hurt you to make them understand your pain or is it truly you trying to get the last word in this ending? Are you doing that to help them change or are you doing it to spite them?
They meant a lot to you, and you meant a lot to them. It must have meant something, right? Remember to be kind and mature, no matter which option applies to you or how the ending plays out.
At least, you can tell yourself that you tried.
And just a reminder: you shouldn’t feel guilty about breaking up with a friend who is truly toxic or abusive towards you. Things like that happen. It’s an ugly world and you can’t honestly count on anybody else to guard your heart but you.
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Isabelle Sierra is a small lady working in a big city. She likes making references to popular culture, cutting her own hair and dreaming about alternate universes.