Woman to Women
4 steps for breaking up with a friend – and staying friendly
The saying goes something like “True friends are like diamonds….” But do you sometimes find that certain people you call friends are more like cubic zirconias?
If you’re looking to banish the high-maintenance energy zappers from your life but still want to stay friendly (at a distance), try these 4 surefire steps to cool down the friendship:
Step 1: Determine what kind of friend they are and what kind of friend you want them to be: season, reason, lifetime or healthy.
• Season (the holiday-card friend): This is a dear but low-maintenance friend.
• Reason (the convenience friend): These are people we become friends with not because of common interests but because of common surroundings. This could also be a friendship by fire.
• Lifetime (the best friend): This friend can be the most comforting and the most overwhelming of all. Your relationship can be the toxic, codependent, enmeshed one that all others revolve around and the solace you run to from all the rest.
• Healthy (the whole friend): You e-mail occasionally. You talk on the phone sporadically and maybe even get together every now and then. This could be your best friend or any number of good friends. These are people who are in your life because they enrich your life. You are consciously choosing to keep them in your life not out of obligation or a momentum of perpetuation but out of a clear choice. You share common interests, beliefs and often the same or similar values. Your lifestyles are most likely compatible.
Step 2: Conduct a reality check. Determine what went wrong and create an impetus for change.
Perhaps you had a baby and your best friend was single and now your lives don’t mesh as well. Maybe you were friends with a coworker, but you changed jobs and now it just seems like too much work to maintain a friendship that was built on shared surroundings rather than shared interests. Possibly you bonded through old wounds, and now that one or both of you are healing, there isn’t anything left to bond over.
Step 3: Share your observations and how you’d like to see the friendship evolve. If your friend responds to your sharing, simply gracefully accept her response without refuting or arguing. Remember the intent is not to be right and to prove a point; the intent is to change the status of the friendship. Give her the last word, if nothing else, as a parting gift.
Step 4: Move on. I recommend not communicating until the next major holiday rolls around, and then, when it’s appropriate, you can send a card. Be as sincere as you feel compelled to be. I sent a birthday card and wrote that I wished for my friend to receive all the joy, love and abundance that she deserved (and I meant it).