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Ending a Friendship
Is it Time to End a Friendship?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a relationship comes to an end. There are obvious breaks - as when trust has been betrayed - and less clear endings, when the connection simply dies out over time. Should you ever definitively call it quits? Only you can answer that question.
There are so many factors that go into the decision.... your history with the other person, your relationships with other people with whom both you and your friend share, your personal safety, your mental health, and more!
On the other hand, I believe in forgiveness, as well. Life is too short. And I worry about getting to the end (or not knowing I am at the end) and realizing that I could have, or should have made up with those people with whom I shared so many laughs and hugs many years ago.
Can You Still Be Pals?
When You Might Want To Consider Ending a Relationship
Every relationship differs, as both people bring their unique personality traits, quirks, baggage and special qualities to the dance. That said, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this difficult question. However, there are definitely "deal breakers," that may call for a time-out while one or both sides work on issues to improve things. Perhaps you can reconcile after time? Or, you may decide that it simply is not salvageable.
- Repeated lying. If your friend cannot be truthful with you, then how can you trust him or her? Trust is an essential foundation to a healthy relationship.
- Substance abuse. A person who abuses drugs or alcohol is not present to give 100% of themselves to you or others. Instead their relationship is with the addictive substance. Before you consider walking away, however, see if you can help your friend get into treatment. While they may be resistant, you can be a true friend by being strong and perhaps showing a bit of tough love. Consult with Al-Anon, or other resources before heading down this path first.
- Failure to hold up their side of the friendship. Are you the one making all the calls and arranging all the dates? Have you already talked with your friend about your frustration about the one-sidedness of things? Perhaps it may be worth just walking away and seeking new friends that will be more actively involved with you. No need for a big formal "break up," just take the cue and move on.
- Engaging in behaviors of which you don't approve. For example, excessive gossiping, criticism, cheating on his or her spouse, spanking her or his children, etc. Have you tried talking about the disconnect in your values? Maybe you can convince them to change their discipline approach. Show them statistics about the impact of adulterous relationships. Of course, they may not be receptive to what they could perceive to be criticism. At that point, it may be time to find new friends with whom you will feel more comfortable.
- The relationship is risky to your health. If your friend is mentally or physically abusive in any way, you definitely need to walk away. Consult a professional to find out the best way to do so without further risk to you, your other friends, family, and the friend with whom you are ending the relationship. Your religious leader may be able to assist, at no cost, and/or can provide resources to help those involved. Long-term therapy may be required. Tread very carefully in this regard.
A Classic Silly Argument
When You Might Be Able to Save the Friendship
If your situation does not fit in the categories above, then maybe you can salvage things, and try again. Take a break (the length is up to you and your friend) and then try a coffee date to see if you can make amends, particularly if one of the following was the cause of the rift:
- The Green-eyed Monster. Did another friend enter the picture? Did one of you have a baby when the other one did not? Marriage? Promotion? Losing weight? You name it, feelings of jealousy may arise. Perhaps a little time is necessary to sort things out. It is difficult sometimes to get all of our needs met, particularly when there are many competing ideas, feelings, issues, and stories in the mix. This is a two-sided problem that will require both of you to acknowledge your part in a fix.
- Long-distance. Its hard on platonic friendships, just as with romantic relationships. When a friend moves away, both will have to decide how hard to work to keep the relationship alive. Hurt feelings may arise when emails don't come as often, or when the friend comes to visit and spends time with someone else. Issues can be worked out, however. Keep communication lines open and honest. Don't tell her, "Its OK," if you truly feel sad. Over time, you will both re-adjust to the new boundaries and a friendship can continue!
- A simple misunderstanding or argument. It happens to the best of us! Miscommunications occur over email (you really can't convey true emotions with simple text on a page), and over the phone. Even best friends can get into arguments over silly, inconsequential matters such as dates for a birthday party, who brought snacks to the last scout meeting, or whose dog went #2 on the parking strip area (and who didn't clean it up!)
It's Great to Have Friends
Who Answers the Question Above?
It depends. Sometimes you both do. On the other hand, the situation might require that you end things, sadly, particularly if you find yourself facing one of the first five issues above. But, you might be fortunate enough to rediscover a changed friend, years from now, when you both may be ready to try again at spending time together!
Until that time, take a deep breath, and be thankful for the pals that you have.
© 2008 Stephanie Hicks