“It’s not you, it’s me.”
“I think we need to spend some time apart.”
“I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.”
These lines are so easy to drop to a partner, so why is it so difficult to break up with a friend?
Here’s the thing, I’m a complete pussy. I’ve never actually even dumped a guy before. The closest I came to breaking it off with a boyfriend was in high school, and I made my friend do it.
I hate confrontation. It’s awkward, and it’s usually easier to just cop whatever is annoying me on the chin and move on in my comfortable, conflict-free life. However when there isn’t conflict in the outside world, there’s usually a full-blown war going on inside of me.
When my partner annoys me, it’s so simple to tell him what he’s done wrong (usually in deep, unnecessary detail.) I tell him to pick up his damn clothes from the damn floor for the FIFTH time that day; he groans and then he does it.
If a friend has done something to annoy me, it’s a whole different story. I’ll see the clothes on the floor. Hmm, that’s annoying. How will I play this out? I can either:
a) Yell at them and tell them they need to respect my house
b) Ignore it and put away the clothes myself
c) Sarcastically tell them they’re rude for leaving their clothes on the floor; we’ll laugh and then live happily ever after.
I’ll usually pick b) or c).
The hypothetical clothes situation is a mild example, but what about when it’s something more serious? What if, in the honeymoon stage of friendship, you didn’t realise your friend was a complete fucking psycho and you’re in too deep to get out? What if, simply, you and your friend have grown apart?
If it’s your boyfriend, you’ll probably explain how you feel (again, in deep, unnecessary detail) and break it off. Simple. You no longer have to worry about that conflict and you’ll move on with your life.
If it’s your friend, you’ll probably smile through gritted teeth and continue to go to coffee together. When her name pops up on your phone you’ll groan, but you’ll reply every time. You’ll be stuck in this relationship for god knows how long, all because it’s too awkward to break it off.
Another “solution” is to start to ignore her. Now, this isn’t as simple as it looks. You’ll have a few days of peace, and then she’ll start to get suspicious. You’ll start to receive texts like:
“Is something going on between us?”
“Have you been ignoring me?”
“Have I done something wrong?”
In your head, you’ll reply:
“Yes there is something going on between us.”
“Yes, I have been ignoring you.”
“Yes, you have done something wrong.”
But you’ll probably just say “Oh my god babe, no! I’ve been so busy with work, let’s catch up ASAP!” with a purple love heart and
It’s a never-ending cycle.
If you think about it, some of our friendships last for years. Decades, even. These friendships generally last way longer than our relationships with our partners, but why? Why can’t we say, after a couple of years of solid friendship, “This has been great, but it’s time to move on now”?
There needs to be a way to end a friendship on civil, mutual terms. There needs to be an alternative to having a huge fight and never speaking to each other again.
It might not be you. It might not be me. But it’s time to move on.