Amongst the many challenging things that come with adulthood is people moving in and out of your life. Some friendships that start on the playground stand the test of time between different schools, college, moving and even marriage. Most, however, don’t make the cut.
We change and our friendships change over time with circumstances and social goals. For most of us, our childhood friendships directly resulted from decisions we didn’t make. Like where we grew up, what street our parents moved to, and what type of school they put us in. It’s natural for friendships to fizzle out, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Here’s a simple guide to dealing with the friend breakup, but first we need to establish how most friendships end.
HOW THE BREAKUP HAPPENS
The Smooth Fade
More often than not, it’s usually a gradual fizzle of the friendship. Disinterest can build up if a person feels disappointed or disengaged from the other. Over time, it feels like the friend isn’t there when she’s needed, so you drift apart. There’s only so many times someone can cancel before you just stop inviting them.
The Energy Suck
I can count on one hand how many close friendships I’ve actively ended, and this one seems to be the most common reason for me. Dealing with a friend who is a seesaw of emotions can be hard to handle when they are constantly causing drama or sucking the energy out of you. Feeling like you have to walk on eggshells because you don’t know what will trigger an outbreak can be exhausting.
The Crime Committer
If someone does something so awful that you have to break up that one is usually an easy decision – although often the toughest to get over. Lying, stealing, or having an affair obviously all fall under this umbrella.
When one person shares much more than the other it can be taxing. When your friendship is uneven, it’s a telltale sign. Feeling like you are the only person who is open, honest, and communicative is just as bad in friendships as it is in a romantic relationship.
As adults, we usually choose friends that enrich our lives. When people vanish without explanation, it hurts because you feel ignored. It’s tough to rationalize why the friendship came to an abrupt end.
When you feel worse about yourself after hanging out with someone versus better, it’s usually a clear sign to tell you to get out. We are all too busy to make time for a friend who doesn’t enrich your life and only talks about themselves. When it’s no longer fun, take note.
HOW TO DEAL & HEAL
Give Your Friend Some Slack
Before you toss your friend the pink slip, attempt to tell them how you are feeling. It’s rare that both parties are on the same page, so reach out and let them know it upsets you that they’ve canceled four times in the last month and are feeling hurt. People have the tendency to withdraw from social encounters when they have big things happening in their lives (work, marriage problems, etc). If you feel like your friendship is worth saving, be resilient and give them a chance.
Cut Your Losses
You have to know when it’s time to mend a friendship, versus when it’s just time to move on. If your friendship has gradually ended and you don’t feel the need to reopen the wound, it may be better to leave things as is. Once some time passes, it’s always an option to shoot the friend a Facebook message or email saying you hope they are doing well.
Don’t Be Petty
In today’s society, unless you are dealing with a crime-committer, you rarely need to be dramatic. By that, I mean, no need to unfriend/unfollow the other person or avoid restaurants or parties they are at. Set their social status to “hide” if you feel you need space.
Invest In Other Friendships
Seeing friends you feel connected to is one of the best ways to move on from a friend-breakup. Be sure not to talk about the ex-friend and instead use the opportunity to be the friend you wish you had. Ask your other friends how they are doing, what’s going on in their lives, and be invested.
Don’t Feel Guilty
The feelings you are having are completely normal but don’t feel bad for cutting ties with a friend that doesn’t fit into your life anymore. If you’ve given the relationship a fair chance and are just not getting what you need out of it, it’s okay to move on.
It’s a tough area to navigate but unfortunately something that most of us have to deal with. We grow and evolve and that can bring us towards people or potentially drift further apart. Shrug it off, it happens. Who knows, down the line, you may find your way back into each other’s lives. We’ve only got one life to live – why stress?