How and when to break-up with a friend

Relationships come and go but friends last forever, right? Not quite, says sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein.

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Just like we are able to see some romances with an end date, we should also view friendships this way. It’s only natural and there is no shame, but how and when you end a friendship will depend on the type of bond you have had.

Long-time friend

This can be one of the most complex relationships to end and it might not be an actual ending that can be achieved but rather some distance. This could be a close family friend, someone you grew up with, went to school with or one of the “crew”.

The issue with the friendship it that you might have been friends for so long that the relationship is based on length rather than the bond you share. You might make allowances because you have known them for what feels like forever. But time doesn’t ensure a friend will always treat you right.

If this long-time friend has done something to hurt or upset you, you can always try discuss it first, but if their presence in your everyday life has for some time felt unpleasant, it’s not a break-up as such but distance you need to achieve. Start to decrease the amount of calls, text and catch ups. If they are part of a group, try and see other friends individually instead of trying to exclude one person.

The friend that has done something wrong

If you are reconsidering a friendships due to a negative or hurtful instance, you need to consider your history (has this person done a lot right by you but only slipped up once or twice?), how close you have been (is this your best friend of 10 years?), and the severity of the incident (is it something you can work on to get past or has this been a deal breaker?)

You might want to try resolve the issue if you feel that the friendships is worth fighting for. If the incidence has been bad enough, immediate silence might even do. Generally, after an argument it’s not just one person who is left considering the future of the friendships. It might be a mutual decision and mutual ending. You can say that you no longer want to have this person in your life but if there has been a big enough disagreement this might have been said for you.

The friend on a difference page

Friendships are not all made on common interests in life, so it’s only natural that as life changes, some friendships start to feel stale. One person might have a family and is living a quitter life while the other still wants to head out and cause trouble.

Differences don’t always mean that a friendship must end, but differences in morals and values might. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s life, but it also means you shouldn’t be disrespectful. Taking the distance approach might be best as you never know when your paths will cross again. You might want to stay in touch but it doesn’t mean that you should be in each other’s daily lives. This is a benefit of the online world. You can keep friendships that might only belong online with the ability to say happy birthday and not see them anywhere else.

The toxic friend

We all either have or have had that friend that has a negative influence on our lives. It might be a person who encourages us to do things we don’t want to, or that friend who always has too much drama going on that you seem to be dragged into it.

There is a quick equation to work out. Do the negatives outweigh the positives? Do they bring you down more than the bring you up? You need to put yourself first and if this friendship is playing more havoc that hooray, it’s time to move on. This will also depend on quality of the friend. A long-term bestie might need some distance but a good-time newbie might be said goodbye too more quickly.

How to break up:

The importance with ending friendships is not to be ashamed when it needs to be done. You don’t have to have certain people in your life, you choose to have certain people in your life. If you want the best life you can live, it’s important to protect who is welcomed and who has influence in it.

Whatever you do decide and however you do decide to do it, try and be as respectful and considerate as you can. It’s a small world after all and we are all in some way connected. Just because a friendship ends does not mean decency towards those who were once friends must end too. Consider your own needs and life but also the feelings of other who are in it too.


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