Ending Friendships

I recently read It’s Not Me, It’s You, a piece on ending friendships. It is more a collection of snippets on one subject than an article, but definitely food for thought.

In the piece, they talk about the two ways of ending friendships — “quick & dirty” versus the passive-aggressive approach. The quick & dirty approach is where you tell your soon-to-be-ex friend why you don’t want to associate with them anymore, & cut it off. The passive-aggressive approach is where you start to bail on appointments but promise to see them in the future… & then just “forget” to return phonecalls until your friend — who has no idea what’s going on — finally gives up.

Can I make a stand & ask for people to always cull their friendships in the quick & dirty way? Please?

When I moved to Melbourne, I made a friend. She was fun & cute & I saw her quite regularly, even though she lived quite a long way out of the city. We would go out & have a great time. We had an instant connection when we met, which meant we could speak to one another really easily. I was delighted. Anyway, a couple of months ago, I realised she hadn’t replied to one of my emails, so I wrote her another one, asking how things were & that I hoped everything was going well. After I sent it, I realised that she & her boyfriend had planned to go overseas on a holiday, & maybe that was why she wasn’t replying.

I still hadn’t heard anything about three weeks later, & I was kind of worried. I emailed her again, saying I thought maybe she had been on holiday. I asked how it was & said that I would love to see her at a party I was having. She replied, saying that yes, she had been on holiday but had caught a tropical flu & so she couldn’t come to my party, but as soon as she was well again, she would take me to lunch.

I was totally relieved but you know what? Since then I haven’t heard a thing. Not a peep. Not for lack of trying, either — I have emailed, called & texted the girl a few times since then, but nothing.

Of course, this is deeply hurtful & confusing. What did I do? Did I somehow offend her? Was I too narcissistic? Did I have continual bad breath & she decided she couldn’t cope? Did she think I was interested in her boyfriend? Did she think I was using her in some way? Was I too boring? Too weird? It goes on & on. I don’t think I will ever know, & quite frankly, that sucks.

The thing is, I have sat next to this girl while she watched her phone ring, fretting about how she didn’t want to answer it. She had “friends” she didn’t like, she told me, & so she would just avoid their calls & hoped they’d go away. It made her very uncomfortable & she worried about it all the time. I remember finding her weird coping strategy kind of amusing at the time. Ha! Who knew that one day I would be on the receiving end of that treatment?! But it occurs to me, that until she faces up to her problem — whatever it is — this will keep happening to her. She will continue to make friends & then cast them off without a word, & have to face the trauma of ignoring & avoiding them until they get the message. It boggles my mind. Why make your life that difficult?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on ending friendships. I strongly believe that honesty is the best policy. If you have a problem with someone — maybe they have terrible table manners or their boyfriend is insufferable — why not tell them so they have the opportunity to remedy what you find so offensive? I know some people avoid confrontation, but really, I think that doing it any other way is cruel & unnecessarily awkward. Am I wrong? Let me know!