The End of a Friendship
You’ve been through school together. Or you worked together. Or lived near each other, maybe you were even roommates. A bonding took place that transformed this person from being an acquaintance to being a trusted friend.
Normal friendships change through different facets of life. You graduate, you work, you get promoted, you take on a second job or night school. You move, you date, you marry. You start a family. These life steps can change your friendships. Sometimes it’s just a matter of prioritizing your time differently. Sometimes it’s more.
As your life becomes more complex, The Big Chill factor applies. You have less energy and less time to devote to your friendships. The theory is, that maybe these old friendships you have are as deep as they are because they seeded at a time before life was complex, and you had the ability to spend nurturing the friendships so intensely. It follows that the friends you make later in life are not commonly as deep or intense. “Life-long” friends have to take root in an earlier stage of life in order to solidify in that way.
A few years ago I made a New Year’s Resolution to be a better friend. I realized I wasn’t as close to some friends as I had been, and I realized that was partly my fault for not prioritizing those friendships. My writing, my husband, and my volunteer work all always seem to take president over my friends. I made the conscious effort not to keep putting gatherings with friends low on my list of things to do. I thought about the things I do that make me less of a friend than I’d like to be. I worked at repairing that. It made a huge difference in my relationship.
But sometimes no matter how much time, effort or work you want to invest in a relationship, it’s just not repairable. Life happens, people change, some friendships go the distance and some just don’t.
Some friendship end-ers are clear. Dating your friend’s ex is often a deal breaker. And the reverse is true too. If your friend is now with your ex, the odds are good that there is a violation here. The trust is broken and may ever be repaired.
Disagreeing on vital ideas may also be a friendship end-er. This is sad, because it usually isn’t about the disagreement: it’s about the disrespect or the fundamental life placement changes one of you has endured. You have the sacred trinity of taboo topics that would fall into this category: Money, politics and religion.
If you and your friend used to be on equal footing regarding finances and economic life status, and then there is a change, this can cause an upset. If one of you lands a super job, wins the lottery, files for bankruptcy, marries a wealthy person, marries a financially challenged person, inherits a family fortune, goes to debtors prison, or gets fired, you can be sure the friendship will need some reframing. You may find yourself feeling jealous, or you may find your friend unable to keep up with the social things you can now afford to do.
We all remember the early episode of Friends, where the three financially challenged characters - Rachel, Phoebe and Joey - are faced with having to confront the three successful earners - Monica, Ross and Chandler - regarding money.
Of course, this was television and everyone eventually lived happily ever after. But the framing of that episode was pretty accurate on how friends go through these challenges.
Other changes colonize with maturity and success levels. Maybe you and your friend used to spend at least a couple Saturday nights together every month, going to clubs, dancing, partying, staying out and having fun. Now one of you has moved on. Maybe your friend has gotten married and has kids. Or, has gotten serious about a career and doesn’t have Saturday nights free for partying anymore. Maybe one of you just doesn’t enjoy doing that anymore and would rather spend Saturday night at home reading, or going to a Tae Kwon Do class.
This change in activity is just one aspect of the major change. If your friend is now raising a baby, she has different things to talk about. Different concerns, different ideas, different interests. It’s not just a matter of no more Saturday nights, it’s a matter of a much more complex life change.
Politics & Religion
The thing about Politics and religion is that they reveal a layer of morals and beliefs intrinsic to what makes a person tick. Two people that disagree politically can both be very intelligent, and interested in the other’s point of view. It can be healthy and add to the cerebral stimulation you enjoy when you’re with this friend.
But political and religious difference aren’t always intelligent exchanges. Often they can close minded, one sided, sensitive issues that just aren’t open for input. Someone’s political or religious ideals are severely revealing, and can absolutely show this person’s mind and heart in a way that changes how you feel about them. Sometimes you can agree to disagree and just avoid the subject matter. But sometimes knowing your “friend” actually feels a certain way about a subject sensitive to you, can turn you off to them for good.
This is also what happens when you discover an intellectual compatibility. This doesn’t have to be political or faith based, it could be about anything. Life is a cumulative process, and as you’ve moved forward through yours you’ve gained information and experience, fine tuning your intellect. It’s hard when you discover someone close to you has reached their limit in a way, and just can’t be with you on your level. It is natural to want to be among peers. This doesn’t have to be a snobby or conceited thing. If you’re 30, you probably don’t have a 15 year old as a best friend because of the variety of things you can’t share as peers.
This shouldn’t be confused with interests or exposures. Someone may just not have any interest in a subject you’re well versed in. Someone may have just never had the opportunity to learn about something you’ve studied. That isn’t a reflection on their intellect at all.
There are deal breakers that are species-specific to you. They may be areas of sensitivity that you just can’t seem to handle.
If you are at a responsible point in your life, and your friend has started doing a lot of drugs and/or getting arrested this just may be a deal breaker for you. Life is about choices, and if your friend chooses to take a path you are uncomfortable being exposed to, you also have a choice to make.
This isn’t about right or wrong. Your friend may have gotten married and started a family. Maybe you do not enjoy the company of children. Maybe you’d rather remove your own kidney with a fork than spend a painful afternoon with a crying baby, stinky diapers, no cursing and no adult speak. Maybe you really can’t stand how your friend has changed, lost the ability to speak about art, music or current events. Maybe you do not give a shit what’s on sale at Toys R Us, and you miss the well rounded whole person she used to be.
What should you do?
Some friendships are seasonal – they are what they are at a certain time or place in your life. Maybe up until a certain point in life you and this friend were as thick as thieves. But maybe that time has just naturally run it’s course.
Sometimes you have to accept a friendship for what it was, and allow it to transition into an acquaintance relationship instead of being lost completely.
Forcing a friendship to be something it just isn’t, is a recipe for disaster. It’s part of the life process that some friendships, no matter how great they used to be, and no matter how hard you fight for them, are just past their prime.
Don’t feel the need to state your peace. Some things don’t need to be said. Some people have a natural need to clear the air, but I can almost guarantee you that when it comes to the end steps of a relationship, these are the kinds of things that can never be taken back. Once they are out there, they are out there for good. Or bad.
Your friend that parties too hard for where you are in life right now may wake up one morning 5 or 10 years from now having changed. Having grown. At that point, your friendship may be reborn. But if you make the effort to make sure she knows now how much you disapprove of her lifestyle, when that day comes, you are going to be the last person she’ll want to reconnect with.
The same with a friendship that takes a break over child rearing. The kids will eventually grow up. Your friend may regain her old self 15 years from now. Wouldn’t it be nice if you cold still talk and maybe even get closer again at some point in the future? Well you’ll remove that possibility forever if you ever say to your friend that you can’t stand her kids.
Letting go is hard. But when it comes to a failing friendship, it’s often the best thing you can do. Let go, walk away. Give space and time. And maybe just as naturally as the friendship faded, In time it will come back to life.
was written by Veronica for Hubpages. If you are reading it elsewhere, it was stolen.
All text is original content by Veronica.
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