A Practical Guide To Breaking Up With Friends
We’ve all got That Friend — you know the one. The one that makes you question why you’re friends with her. The one that surprises you when he actually shows up. You may have even been That Friend for someone else. But the thing about Those Friendships is that, eventually, they end; the question is not if, but when — and not why, but how. The next time you’re in the mood for a little social spring cleaning, here are some break-up strategies for each type of friend you’re trying to jettison.
You’re doing yourself a huge favour by choosing not to be around someone who makes you feel like you’re being pranked by the friendship gods. This is the friend who is always saying nasty things about you, the people you care about, or the things that are important to you. She makes you feel worse about yourself or your life, and she does it in the sneakiest way possible: by showering you with backhanded compliments that leave you feeling like you would have preferred an early morning colonoscopy.
How to break up: We know they’re toxic, but there’s no point trying to use their venom against them. They don’t care about your feelings, so there’s no need to play nice. This is perhaps the only time in life a Berger-ish Post-It (or text) is appropriate: I’m sorry, I can’t with you.
You thought you left playing-hard-to-get behind in your early years of dating, didn’t you? Well, you may have, but this friend didn’t. She never returns your calls, never initiates plans, and never shows up when invited. Save your energy for someone who actually wants to be friends. But before you say adios, take a moment to consider: Is this a long-term trend, or just a few months’ phase? Your friend might be going through a busy or difficult time that they’ve chosen to keep private. But if it’s the former …
How to break up: This one is easy — just quit trying. Follow your friend’s lead and don’t call or try to make plans. If she gets the hint and reaches out, it’s up to you. If she doesn’t, then the friendship dies a natural death.
You’ve been friends for 20 years… but ceased having anything in common a decade ago. Conversation is either a struggle, a series of well-worn reminiscences, or inaudible in a crowded bar as you hide behind the music and shots. There’s no shame in both having moved on. By holding on, you’re only holding yourself (and her) back — from better friends.
How to break up: Mentally wish her luck — then stop pretending you care every time you meet. The artifice of closeness only keeps hope alive that one day, your friendship will relive its glory days. A simple wave from across a crowded room will do.
THE ONE WITH THAT SPOUSE
In an ideal world, we’d love all the husbands and wives that enter our lives as friends-in-law, and they’d adore us in return. In an okay world, we’d at least be able to all tolerate each other. In this world, though, there’s always a friend with a dealbreaker spouse. Maybe you think he encourages the worst traits in your friend, maybe you think he treats her badly, maybe he’s a card-carrying RSS member. Whatever it is — you can’t handle it.
How to break up: Don’t — assuming you still like your friend. Hang out independently and channel your inner Switzerland whenever your friend mentions the partner; whatever you do, resist revealing the extent of your disdain.
Of course, if you don’t value your friendship, let loose on all the things you cannot stand about the spouse. Maybe even invent a few, just to make sure your friend never ever ever wants to see you again.
THE NEEDY NAMRITA
Some decisions are difficult, sure — but this friend consults you before deciding what to eat for breakfast. You’re on her speed dial, your phone pings constantly, and you find yourself considering a shift of address just to get away. Again, take a moment to consider if this is a defining characteristic of your friendship with this person, or a stage in your friend’s life. If it’s not temporary, then…
How to break up: The thing about this friend is: she is likely to become even more clingy the more distance you subtly try to put in place. So be direct — tell your friend she’s leaning on you too much and encourage her to make her own decisions. Then, identify times and/or topics on which she can consult you.
Or, just start giving really bad advice. We hear Marmite makes a delicious breakfast.
Really love that new bag you just got? Well, so does Little Miss Copycat; she’s off to the store to buy it in every color, and Instagramming all over town about her new “find.” Think you’ve uncovered the coolest new dive bar in town? Well, don’t take this friend, because in no time she’ll be telling everyone where she’s hosting her next birthday party. Whatever you do, this friend just can’t help but imitate, and the worst part is, she doesn’t seem to have any idea she’s doing it. Some days, you’re not sure whether she’d prefer to skip the small talk and go straight to stealing your identity.
How to break up: You don’t have to, if you’re able to have an honest conversation with Single White Female. But here’s the thing about copycats: They’re usually delusional about their own originality, and anything you say will threaten their delicate self-esteem. The best option here is to invent a series of really awful recommendations, and hope that she moves on to a new victim with better taste.