You break up with friends because they convince you to sneak into your father’s liquor cabinet and hand you a shot glass as you wash down a fifth of whisky together.
You break up with friends because they ditched your birthday party to sleep with your boyfriend.
You don’t quit being friends with someone just because they make you anxious and desperate and unloving. That’s your problem, right?
Breaking up with friends is something you do as a teenager and 20-something. By 30, though, you should have whittled all the friends you’ve made in the years down to a kick-ass group of people. They are the people you call at 2 a.m. when you are locked out. They are the members of your intramural badminton team. They are your brunch gang. They are your family.
The idea of that all encompassing group of friends is about romanticized as Prince Charming himself. We are led to believe that we should have a group of friends that we’ve known since kindergarten. Or college. Or even from work. And we hang out together at our favorite coffee shop or bar or diner. Those are true friends.
But that’s not how it usually works. Instead we have fluid friendships that come and go depending on the phase of our life. Some do stick around, but more do not. Their exits can be quick and justified by circumstance, but then there are excruciating times when you must simply walk away.
It doesn’t matter that you closed down dive bars discussing your parents’ divorce while tears dripped into your beer. It doesn’t matter that this friend drove four hours to hang out the weekend after your girlfriend dumped you. It doesn’t matter that you have heaps and heaps of memories together.
Because life changes, and so do relationships.
It starts small. Maybe the nagging desire to be right during a lighthearted debate. Then slight judgments are passed. You aren’t happy when your friend succeeds and revel in her misery. Eventually, the friendship is no longer supportive and uplifting, rather a battle to determine which person is better.
Your friend is not a good friend. You are not a good friend. Her name on your phone ignites anxiety in the pit of your stomach. All of his ‘heys’ seem doused in criticism. You fight. You ignore each other. You try to clear the air and go back to where you were, but you can’t. As much as you want to send love and repair the damage, the friendship no longer has the stamina to continue through the bullshit.
Aren’t you supposed to fight for friends? Isn’t that why, at 30, they are still in your life?
Until you realize that’s your only motivation for continuing this friendship. The heart of it is now gone.
Your friend didn’t sleep with your boyfriend. He didn’t lure you into illegal acts. You didn’t even move away from each other.
You know that this person isn’t bringing joy to your life anymore and our lives are too short for any other type of relationships. As you age, you realize that only the relationships that make you a better person are the worthwhile ones, and this one is not. Sometimes true friends are only true for a matter of time and then you must walk away because the friendship is no longer part of your higher good.
It hurts. You are sad. Your friend is sad. But you must grow, and it’s OK to accept and embrace that.