Friday, April 27, 2012

How Do You Break Up with a Friend?

How do you break up with a friend, especially when that friend was such an important part of your life at one point? I know, why would anyone want to end a friendship with someone who was once so valued to them? Well, the truth is, people change and the friendships that once fit like a glove are no longer comfortable.

I'm not talking about getting rid of a friend over a petty disagreement, but suppose you and this person, with whom you were once so close, evolved into living different lifestyles that just don't jive? What if you are no longer the religious ambivalent you used to be but now have devoted your life to Jesus? Or suppose you've gone from your "live and let live" outlook to a stricter moral code that bristles around your hedonistic pal? Suppose you have given up your addictions, whatever they may have been, but your friend still has those monkeys chained to his or her back?

It may seem like friendships in these scenarios should be easy to walk away from but that's not always the case. That person with whom you don't see eye-to-eye with at this moment may have been someone whose support once saved your life.  You may have known that person since childhood and watched each other grow up and even experienced some of your life defining moments together. Even if you two stand at opposite ends of the spectrum now, how do you walk away from that kind of history?

Do you just fade away? Don't answer the e-mails? Stop returning phone calls? Always find an excuse not to make that lunch or dinner date? Or do you overtly "dump" them by unfriending them from Facebook or not issuing them their perpetual invitation to "that social function" you have every year? Maybe the old fashion way is best: a Dear John letter or one-on-one chat where you break up over coffee.  Any way you choose, it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt you for having to do it and it's going to hurt them as well, even if they don't recognize what's happening right away. However,  if it's for the best then you have to take comfort that you are doing the right thing for yourself. And for them, because it's not fair to be a phony supporter when your heart is really not in it.

It may not be as horrifying of an experience as you think it could turn out to be and, in the end, you, the dumper,  may be the one who's surprised by the state of your relationship and not the dumpee. I have a few friends that I wanted to break up with but I'm not as brave as I like to think I am so I've chosen to simply fade away. To my surprise, or maybe it's my dismay, I'm not as missed as I thought I'd be because, in truth, I don't think some of these friends have even realized I've gone. Maybe I am actually the dumpee.

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