I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship breakups recently. Partly because I’ve just gone through one and partly because it’s something we all go through – from the time we’re kids on the playground til we’re dotty old ladies. From dumping a bestie to getting cut off, everyone has been on every side of this equation – there isn’t a simply side. It’s not easy being the “dumper” and it’s not easy being the “dumpee”.
What interests me most, however, is how we’ll give a relationship bust-up more than a friendship game over. At the end of a relationship we allow questioning, somewhat crazy behaviour, demanding of answers and a lot of space for drawing closure. Hell, we’ll even give it a heck load more work before we call it quits, try a lot more to “make things work”. But, somehow, just because a friendship lacks the same kinds of intimacy as a relationship, we don’t give it the same treatement, even if they’re just as strong, deeply connected and meaningful.
On Being the Dumper:
- Before making your final decision check in with yourself: are you avoiding conflict over an issue (or several that have built-up) or is this what you really want? Once you’ve said the words, they’re hard to take back.
- Don’t just ignore them or cut them out of your life. Most people will respond to this with increased attempts to contact as well as confusion. If your aim is to get away from them, this will have the opposite affect.
- Carefully think through your reasons and write them down to get them really clear in your own head and heart. It’ll help you later on.
- Explain your reasons as calmly, politely and reasonably as you can. Mudslinging won’t help. But the other person deserves to have these answers to help give them closure.
- Honour the other person’s need to discuss things – up until the point it negatively affects you. We give closure to our exes through a series of conversations. So, particularly if this was a close relationship, give it the same respect you would do with a breakup with a lover.
- Refrain from accusations. It’s not going to help. Even if the other person was a raging cow, use the infamous I-Language to express how you feel. Accusations will only prolong the process.
- Detach yourself by only making small talk, not responding to every message and slowly putting distance between the two of you. When you see them, remain friendly but refrain from being too intimate as you’ll give them mixed signals.
On Being the Dumpee:
- Allow yourself a period of grieving and all the stages associated with loss. Talk to other friends, write in your journal and do whatever it is that you need to do in order to process the emotions.
- Once you’ve spoken it over with the Ex Friend a few (and I do mean only a few) times, stop badgering them. You can’t make anyone like you and you can’t force someone to be your friend.
- If it’s particularly heartbreaking for you, consider removing them from FB, Twitter, BBM and your phone. Like with an ex, the temptation to reach out and contact can be overpowering. And it won’t help you let go.
- Listen to what they have to say, sit back and evaluate it. Take into account if it’s only one opinion of you or if your behaviour is beginning to affect multiple areas of your life and relationships (such as excessive neediness). Should it be the latter, look into getting professional help.
- Remember, you have other friends. The loss of one friendship does not define you as a friend or human being.
And no, this blog isn’t about you.