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Breaking a Friendship


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I have some conflicting thoughts and I thought I'd pose them to the people on this forum.

 

I've been a really passive person even when it comes to relationships, so I tend to be taken as friendly when I am affirming and polite. My best friend from elementary had many close friends into high school, and my friend group in high school was focused around playing D&D rather than interacting outside of the game. Despite this, people seem to like me and call me their friend. There was even a girl in college I became friends with after we bonded over the vlogbrothers and lgbt issues, only to find myself drained by trying to maintain a platonic relationship with her.

 

I understand that it's impossible to be friends with everyone (maybe it's even impossible to want to associate with everyone who is kind to you), and I am grateful for the time that these people have shared with me. I just feel really bad that I don't find it as satisfying as they seem to...

 

With romantic relationships, I often see media that presents breaking up as an option to ending the relationship. If one person is not invested in the relationship, I think it's ethical to tell the other person and transition the relationship to something else that fits their needs. But is there something similar to breaking up in a platonic relationship? I don't want the other person to wait for me to want to meet up when I don't, but pulling them aside and saying "we're not friends anymore" seems like a bad approach.

 

My question is: how do you end a friendship when it's not working for you? Do you avoid them forever? Tell them you don't want to meet up again? Something else?

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That's a very touchy subject indeed. I've never broken up with a friend before. I have had obnoxious friends before that seemed a bit clingy, but we parted due to circumstances like moving away to another city. Lucky me! :)

 

Maybe there's something about her that annoys you specifically? Have you tried talking to her about it? "Hey, I really hate the way you keep farting in my face, that stinks" (Haha, stinks).

 

If it's not something specific, you just have to turn down seeing her as much. (I wouldn't end a romantic relationship this way, I feel those need a hard break). When she asks to do something with her, tell her you're busy that day. You don't have to shut her out completely, just lower the frequency you see her. You might even enjoy her company more if it's in fewer doses.

 

 

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It's kind of confusing because of how 'casual' most people treat the concept of friendship, while at the same time if you flat out tell someone "I don't want to be your friend" they will still take it as an insult. Like how people get upset over being "un-friended" on Facebook, when the requirement for friending someone on FB in the first place is... well, nothing really.

 

Personally if I'm actually close to someone in a platonic way, I'll find some way to explain to them what bugs me and what I need to do about it. But I've only done that once, and I guess my situation doesn't match yours really. Most of my ex-friends were the ones that ended up gradually shutting me out, not the other way around. So... that approach does work, but it depends on the other person. If they care about the friendship, it will hurt them. If they don't really, they might not even notice. I think the vast majority of people probably wouldn't really even notice or care too much if you keep saying you're busy when they ask to hang out. They may eventually stop asking, or at least slow down. They may find other people to hang with and forget about you.

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I hate breaking up with friends. I've done it many times before, and it always feels like I'm cutting away a piece of my heart. 

 

 

Since this is a one-sided friend breakup, and you want to explain the reason behind the breakup, I'd ask them if they've ever been in a one-sided friendship. And after listening to their story, tell them that you feel like the friendship is one-sided, not in the sense that they're being toxic, but in the sense that you feel a disconnection. Tell them that it's probably not their fault (unless it is) and that you'd like to have more distance. The main point is, make it as little about blame as possible. The less the person feels like it's their fault, the better.  

 

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Thank you @Blue Phoenix Ace, @SoulWolf, and @omitef for the input! I guess I asked this question for future reference, because I've already been in the practice of steadily distancing myself from people I don't find myself interacting comfortably with. It's sad to see the other person try to meet up, and become frustrated with me and concerned about a relationship that I'm not interested in. I'm grateful that the three of you took the time to respond and let me explore alternatives that might save the other person emotional investment and confusion.

 

I know that sometimes there's no way to let a person down in a way that won't upset them, but I've never actually had to tell another person that I don't see them as a friend before, and I'm nervous of hurting another person. I think next time I recognize this happening, I'll try talking to them about it.

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  • 2 months later...

This is just me, but in the past when breaking off friendships, I have just cut contact or withdrawn it over time, but then again, those friendships weren't great (one sided and/or toxic to some degree) and I didn't feel the other person cared as much, or would have bothered changing if I'd explained how I felt (from experience). I think Omitef's idea is very good, though. It is scary, but sometimes talking it out is the kindest way of ending it if you can't carry on.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I am breaking away from a friendship and it hurts so much. It's not like they're a bad person it is more for me because I know they won't be able to contact me anymore. So.. I'm dying. I realized what I am because of this as well and I'm really happy I got to experience this now. At least I know what to do.. next time. 

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I did  "break-up" with a friend once. It was in middle school I think. It was difficult because me and another friend of mine were his only friends and that others were mean to him, so we didn't want to say "we're not friends, go away", it would have been too cruel. Plus he did Nothing bad; it's just that we didn't have a lot in common and tat my other friend and I wanted to spend time alone without him talking about things we didn't care about. We can say that he was more invested in the friendship that us. So, we decided for something that would may be the platonic equivalent to "we break up but we're still friends", like : "we're not friends anymore but we can still be acquaintances". I mean, we didn't say it like that, but that's kinda like that. We told him that we didn't want to stop talking to him and all, just that we wanted to do it less, and we explained why. It worked well. I still talked to him from time to time.

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