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BY MARIA GARRIDO - 2 MINUTE READ
How to unfriend someone in real life.
When I found myself single in my 40's, I was on a mission to make new friends. True, I was blessed to have good life-long friends, but I needed to find new ones who could understand my new path and with whom I could connect with around shared experiences. Our friendships are often mirrors of who we are at the time so it's not surprising that I sought out like-minded, strong single women so I could learn from them as much as laugh with them. Along this path, I met lots of amazing people but today, not all of them are still part of my life. Two of these friends we'll call Anna and Lauren.
My friendship with Anna was based on our common interest in the Arts. Anna was a lifelong singleton, a bohemian soul from whom I learned a lot about how to be happy alone. She was a joyous free spirit with a permanent twinkle in her eye, a much needed breath of fresh air in my life full of responsibilities and heaviness.
I met Lauren at a dinner party. Four days later, we giggled and chatted our way through a Saturday brunch. She was well travelled, honest and funny and in the years to come, our moments over sushi and rosé at her kitchen table were ones I really looked forward to.
As my life changed and I grew, however, I found that these friendships began to shift and they started to make me feel uncomfortable.
TIT FOR TAT & THE SLOW DRIFTER
There are many reasons and ways in which friendships come apart. Just like in romantic relationships, friendships often have a turning point, a moment when the rift between friends becomes undeniable.
Over time, Anna, the joyful singleton, and I began to misunderstand each other. I found her too demanding of my attention and not very empathetic to the fact that I had three children and a full time job to attend to. When she invited me to events I couldn't attend, she took it very personally and our friendship began to unravel. Rather than spend my energy keeping score of how many times I'd been to her things and how many times she'd been to mine, I knew it was time to end the friendship.
With Lauren, the situation was slow and drifting. Our professional schedules began to fill up, and the moments to catch up in person became fewer and further between. The few times we did manage to schedule tea, she would repeatedly cancel. At first, I was understanding, knowing how difficult busy lives can be, but after a while, the pattern became predictable: we'd agree to a date and inevitably, 48 hrs before, she'd cancel. It became a running joke in my house. When I'd say to my boys, "Oh, I'm seeing Lauren for dinner tomorrow night. They'd all laugh and say "Ok, Mom, that means you'll be home for dinner as expected". I knew then that it was time to drift my way out of this friendship.
When the time comes for the difficult conversation to end a friendship that no longer serves you, it's important to remain compassionate, sharing your feelings and concerns and giving your friend space to express their perspective. Never lose site of the positive that this person brought into your life and if possible, show gratitude for the friendship, even if short-lived. Sometimes, these discussions go well and lead to mutual understanding, resolution or closure. But other times, they don't go smoothly, no matter your efforts, thus solidifying the decision to part ways.
With Anna I tried to have a compassionate conversation, telling her that the frienship was no longer serving either one of us and it was probably best to end it. I don't know if I didn't express it kindly enough but she didn't take it well. She began to message me, arguing over my decision; I thanked her for our time together and walked away as gracefully as I could. Maybe I should have listened more respectfully to her perspective and given her more space to express her concerns, anger, etc., but I didn't have the energy for the acerbic banter so I just let it go and didn't engage. I've run into her since at parties and always say hello and ask her how she's doing, but I don't go beyond the small talk. We are both different people now and that is ok.
Lauren and I have simply drifted apart. Even though it's been about four years since we've seen each other last, I do still get the occasional message from her saying we should meet. I'll admit I never confronted this one straight on. Instead, I delay my responses and don't really give her room to eventually cancel on me anyway. I'll be the first to admit this is probably not the best way to address the issue, but the exchanges are so few and far between that it feels a bit late to confront this with all guns blazing.
Realizing that a friendship is over can be awkward or even heart-wrenching, as it forces us to confront the reality that this cherished bond may no longer serve us. Nevertheless, friendship breakups are a natural part of our human experience. Much like our own lives, social connections evolve too. By navigating these breakups with empathy for your friend and for yourself, fostering open communication, and a commitment to personal growth, we can emerge stronger and more attuned to the complex tapestry of human relationships that enrich our lives.
In the aftermath of a friendship breakup, it's crucial to embrace the opportunity to spend more time nurturing good existing relationships and learn from past experiences. Cherish the memories and lessons from the friendship that was but remain open to the friendships yet to come.
SELF CARE TIP
Remember to be compassionate with yourself when you choose to break up with a friend. There is no perfect way to sever ties with someone so don't feel guilty if you fumble it, like me. Be confident in knowing that you did the best you could and that in the end, you are taking care of your heart in ending a friendship that doesn't serve you.❤
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