Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

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Okay on a serious note…I need some good old-fashioned blogger advice from the people I have come to respect, admire and believe in! “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” and I wish it were as simple as the lyrics from a Carpenter’s song. But it never is…is it? Whether you are breaking up from a lover, a friend, a job, etc…it is hard, painful and overall pretty cruddy! But how do you know when it is time to break up?

I guess I should start by saying I am NOT talking about me and Keith! Good gosh…NEVER! No, I am talking about a friendship that I feel like is no longer working and all together causing me more harm than good. I think deep down this friend is a good person but maybe just not good for me. I fear that over the course of a few years this relationship has become toxic to me and toxic to my well-being. By toxic, I mean it negatively affects me. Here are the emotions I feel when I am around this individual:

  • anger: I am instantly angry and put off as soon as I am around her
  • negativity: No matter how positive the atmosphere is as soon as she enters the room the entire change in my attitude abruptly shifts to negativity
  • I fantasize about all the things I want to say to her: how she has hurt me, recount the unbelievable things she has said to me, point out how she has used me, lied to me, taken advantage….

But in her defense, can she be the only one to blame? I mean I ALLOWED this to happen! I allowed her to do this to me! I firmly believe that no one can take away your power over how you feel unless you let them! So, am I just as much to blame as she is. I never stood up for myself, never said stop, never interjected my opinion! I believe it is human nature to test the waters to see what you can/can not get away with. I think we all do it, everyday, and we learn out limits and our boundaries. Be is work, friendships, rules, relationships, etc. So maybe she never even realized consciously how she was being and because I never stood up and said NO she doesn’t actually see her behavior for what it is: appalling! My husband, co-workers, friends, family have all been amazed at what I have put up with but yet they were guilty of never saying anything to me either. It wasn’t until I started to slowly make comments about how unhappy I was that the floodgates opened and everyone (and I mean everyone) had a story about how much they disliked this friend of mine.

So this brings me back to my original question: how do you break up with a friend? It isn’t like breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Or is it? I can’t just walk away without any explanation because she would never know what happened. She would never understand. Don’t I owe her the basic decency of a real conversation in which I firmly yet respectfully walk away? I want to leave the bigger person, the better person. I guess I am just lost.  I spend WAY too much time obsessing over this…yet…if I end the friendship it won’t be over. This is a friend that runs in my circle and we see one another ALL THE TIME. So this could get awkward. I feel like I am in high school. Do high school “dramas” ever end or do just they just continue with the circumstances and issues become more adult? Do I just ignore it and try to remove myself from situations where she will be or do I formally say enough?!

Have you ever had to officially end a friendship? Was it worth it?

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36 Responses

  1. I think I was on the other end of the spectrum once in high school. I have to say the person handled the “breakup” pretty openly and honestly and while it sucked a lot I can look back and say it was for the best and I was not a happier person knowing them either.

  2. I can relate to this! Breaking up with a friend is hard to to! I’ve done it before, and it was tough. It was a very gradual process. My situation was different from yours in that we don’t run in the same circles. We kinda did… but not to where it would affect either of us. I felt awful every time I was around her. I never felt like happy around her. It was “work” to be around her. I just slowly stopped returning phone calls.. and overtime, it faded.

    I wish you the best of luck!

  3. I’ve never officially ended a friendship, but I’ve recently let one fade away. It’s happened over many years, and it was intentional on my part. It was actually very painful too, as I’d been friends with this person for over 10 years. Many memories of my past contain her. But we are just at different points in our lives and are not meant to be friends any more. Obviously, there’s more too it than that. But if a person makes you feel negatively all the time, then you don’t need them in your life anymore. So, my advice would be to break up gradually. If you’ve been friends for awhile, there’s no reason to hurt her feelings and officially call it off. Just kind of let yourselves drift apart.

  4. Kelly – Think back to college…you will remember my experience with a certain roommate through which I actually met you! That relationship turned into exactly what you explained here. She never had anything positive to say about me, to me, to Mike, about my friends, about my choices, and anytime we tried to bridge the gap it just didn’t work. I never have or probably ever will fully understand what exactly happened there.

    I told her I would not live with her as we had planned to do for another year because I did not feel comfortable there anymore. I did this long before our lease was up and didn’t leave anyone high and dry or anything like that. She accused me of ruining her plans and putting her and our other roomate out, etc. But anytime I did actually stay at our place she came up with something I did that was inconsiderate or unthoughtful…like I did my laundry while she was in her room and it’s too loud because her room backed up to the washer and dryer. Why couldn’t I go to my boyfriend’s house and do laundry? Hmmm…Because I pay rent here!!!

    Anywho, I did on a few occasions try to meet up with her after I moved out, but again like your situation it was always miserable and I ended up having a terrible time. I finally just asked what had I done that seemed to put such a distance between what used to be the closest friendship I’d ever had? She had no justifiable answer. I still tried to keep in touch after that hoping she would come around. The nail in the coffin was her not coming to any of my wedding events. Not one shower, nothing. She left me a voice mail telling me she sent a gift in the mail. I never called or emailed again after that.

    A few years later we ran into each other at the Spring Crawfish Festival. She gave me this big hug and asked if I would give her my number. She said she wanted to get together and talk. We did, and we have since kept in touch and she just came to my baby shower this weekend and I went to her wedding a few weeks ago. She told me she had no idea why she ever acted that way except that she felt like I started to change and that I had a whole separate life from her with the new people I had met once I started dating Mike. Very long post, I know, sometimes it is best to just walk away from a friendship or situation and sometimes time heals the anger, negativitiy, or whatever is dragging it down.

  5. Hey, Kelly — The only experience I have with this type of situation was a girl who began treating me like I was stupid. I stopped believing we were friends, but I wanted to make it clear, so I took her to coffee and told her the issues I had with our relationship. We cordially agreed just to be polite acquaintances. I hate having to do that, but it had to happen. Best wishes…

  6. Done this a few times and I think I can say in virtually every case it was worth it and I came out better on the other side for it. Like you said, sometimes the energy you get from someone is just toxic and it’s more important to yourself that you rid yourself of that toxic energy. I think you’ll find things a little lighter emotionally if you go through with it.

    Sorry about the Colts, by the way!

  7. First of all, big hugs to you!

    I once had a friend (who was also my roommate) that I had to walk away from. I did it gradually and I never really came clean about my true feelings towards her. But basically, I stopped going out with her and her friends, moved out of the apartment and, eventually, stopped taking her calls. Years later, I now wish that I would have been honest and confessed my true feelings… I don’t know if it would have made a difference or not, but I can’t help thinking that maybe I could have helped her realize what she was doing to push people away.

    I’m sending lot’s of positive thoughts your way to help you get through this.

  8. I think it is similar to breaking up with a boyfriend. A lot of the time you do have the same friends and frequent the same places, and there will be some awkward moments. Ultimately, though, the people in your life should enhance your experience not make you feel bad. You have to look out for yourself if you feel they are toxic (and they are). I do think you should talk to them, though. It will help you more than anything int he end if you can get out your feelings and feel confident about the way you handled the situation.

  9. I am TERRIBLE when it comes to conflicts so my typical approach is avoidance. Not the best method. Can you simply dwindle down your contact/conversations. Or maybe you can write her a letter putting it all out there?

    Life’s too short for toxic people. You can do it girlfriend!

  10. I have a VERY similar relationship with one of my high school friends, and I’m not sure why I keep forgiving her. I think it’s because I don’t know that many people in Boston, but at the same time I’ve thought about ending my friendship with her. I am interested to hear what you do!

  11. I have taken breaks with friends before. Some have been forever and some have been rekindled.

    The one thing I think everyone deserves is the opportunity to fix a behavior – and that means telling the person about it. I would want someone to tell me if I was doing something they didn’t like instead of just breaking off the friendship with me. If you’ve done that and she hasn’t improved, then you should feel okay about walking away.

    Most people I know just stop returning phone calls or emails, to let the friendship die. I am more proactive – I want to talk with the person and say, hey, this is where I am with our friendship and while I value our history, I am unable to continue as we are. And I always say, let’s be respectful of each other and not trash each other to our common friends and if we’re going to be at the same place, we can be polite adults, as it’s not about us at that point.

  12. I’ve broken up with friends in the past, and it hurts, it really does. But at the end of it all, there’s a reason. I would write out all of my feelings and try to figure out how I want to approach it. I need to have that talk, I don’t do as well with the drifting away.
    Unfortunately it’s a part of life. A painful part, but things happen for a reason, and friendships fall apart for a reason. You’ll be a stronger person because of it!

  13. I hate to say it, but I actually have, and it was definitely worth it in the long run, even though it was a painful process. I love my friends like family, and would never have gone to such measures unless it was absolutely necessary. I feel that friends should always bring you up and make you better- never the opposite. If that becomes untrue in your situation, i think it’s important for someone to take a step back and try to understand what has changed, or if they would actually be less happy without that person in their life. It’s very hard, for sure!

    http://www.joelygolightly.wordpress.com

  14. Hey girlie! This is a hard situation!…but it sounds like you have already decided you do need to “break-up” from this person, you just aren’t sure how to go about it…the hardest thing to do (which is probably the right thing) in this case would be to tell her that truthfully your personalities don’t click and you feel frustrated with the negativity. ahhh so hard though! you could try to avoid being around her for a little bit, without awkwardly attempting to avoid, and see if things change. goodluck with the situation chica! and just remember it’s not you and it’s not your fault! you are a positive and optimistic person and should have to feel those negative feelings this person brings!! xoxo!

  15. Oh goodness, yes, unfortunately I’ve had to break up with a few friends before. Bottom line, if someone is doing you more harm than good, it’s time to say goodbye UNLESS you think there might be a chance…

    I’m not the best person to ask for advice since I usually tend to choose the more passive agressive ways of dealing with these things – just ignoring their phone calls, deleting them from facebook, blocking their emails, etc. You are such a classy lady, I know you will handle it just fine!

  16. Ahh breaking up with people is the worst! Usually I just started to distance myself but I’m really bad with confrontations!

  17. you know, I think ending friendships is harder than ending romantic relationships. I had a really toxic relationship with a roommate in college and we basically didn’t speak for a couple years. We both had toxic feelings about each other, and we just let it fester until we weren’t speaking to each other and couldn’t stand the sight of each other. It was not healthy at all. I think had we addressed all of it openly we would have been much better off in the long run. Even if we didn’t become friends again, it might have taken away some of the guilt that I feel now about allowing the situation to get out of hand.

    But, honestly, the best thing you can do is talk to her. I hope you figure it all out!

  18. I agree with Homecookedem since I am more of a passive aggressive gal but I have had to end a friendship or two and have unfortunately had some fade away.

    I broke up with a friend because I was feeling the same things you did, there was constant drama and she just wasn’t a good influence on me (this is when I started working out and watching what I eat and she would try to sabotage me). I wrote her a simple email saying that I was taking a break from our friendship and please do not email me and told her I was removing her from my FB and homegirl went baserk. She worked in my building and I had to change my schedule because she would be waiting by the elevators for me to get done with work and talk, email me all the time, etc.

    The sad thins is I am a very friendly, open person however that one experience has made me very weary of those who I become friends with.

    Sorry for such a long post, I needed to vent!

  19. I think just distancing yourself is the best way to go. Its hard because I really think that life is too short to surround yourself with negative people. And if this person is bringing you down then time to move on! I havent had to really do this yet but I dont think its something you can really explain. I have no idea how you would tell someone that you dont want to be friends. But I think it depends on the situation. So Id say either try and talk to this person or just slowly let go and distance yourself. Either way I wish you the best of luck!!

  20. I’ve had to end friendships before…just a few, but they were really hard. I had a friend in grad school who was just kind of toxic for me– she was really insecure, and she would put those insecurities on me in different ways. I wouldn’t say that I “ended” our friendship (like if I saw her today, I would be friendly, and it wouldn’t be that awkward, I don’t think), but I just kind of slowly created more and more distance between us. Creating that distance was hard, but it also helped me to realize how much better about myself I felt without her as a regular part of my life. I felt so much less stressed, and so much happier. It was uncomfortable to end the friendship, but totally worth it.

    This might sound lame, but there’s an article about this exact topic in this month’s O magazine 🙂

  21. sounds like a really tough situation. breaking up with friends sucks, so awkawrd. i haven’t personally gone through it but i’ve seen others and i know how hard it is. i think your approach sounds like a good one..good luck and so sorry you are dealing with this!!

    xoxo
    shelley
    http://findinghappinessandhealth.wordpress.com

  22. I’ve broken up with a friend before, but circumstances were different. We were high school friends who were going in totally different directions. (Our relationship was basically me listening to her talk about herself.) I never officially broke it off, but after summer I sort of just faded away. We never talked again, but I guess it was more natural because we went to different colleges. I’m pretty sure that’s not the best way to do it, but, yeah, I guess it’s one option: Just gradually start seeing less and less of one another.

  23. I “broke up” with my best friend since 2nd grade last year. It was time. Something happened our freshman year of high school (i’m not a college senior) and things were NEVER the same again. Like you said, the relationship was just draining and it “wasn’t working” so we had a 4 hour long conversation, there was crying, there was yelling, some accusations, some “finally getting it off my chest” things were said and a year later, we’re fine. We’re not best friends or remotely friends by any means but we’re just people who say hi to each other when we see each other and that’s it. We’re not mad at each other for what happened. We both just agreed that it really was not going anywhere and neither one of us “got anything” from being friends so why make the efforts? My advice, if you feel all that negativity girl, just do it. Break it off!

  24. Wish I had some advise for you. I had a friend in this situation, and she just kind of let it “fade out’. For your sake, though, you definitely don’t need a toxic friendship! And if the rest of your friends feel the same way, at least there won’t be weirdness when a buch of you are together.

  25. I’m not sure if it’s necessary to have that confrontation conversation. Are you having it for her or for you? Will it make you feel better to tell her about her flaws? Or, are you hoping to “help” her become a better person? Does she have the ability to change?

    In my experience, people don’t really change much – especially if they don’t think they have any problems. It’s not like she’s a drug addict and she needs an intervention, right? She just has a bad personality. That’s not your problem – it’s hers. Only have that “here are your problems” conversation if you think you’ll feel better afterward. AND, be ready for her to tell you what YOUR problems are. She’ll probably attack you in defense of herself.

    Good luck!

  26. I had a very toxic friend for a while. It was hard because there were aspects of her personality that I liked; that’s why we were friends in the first place. But more and more, she was not treating me like a good friend and finally, instead of me trying to fix everything like I’d been doing, I just gave up. People change. It’s okay to let them go even if it hurts.

  27. […] I have to start by saying THANK YOU for all the kind comments everyone gave me yesterday on my Breaking Up Is Hard To Do post. I sincerely appreciate all your advice and it has given me some things to really think about. […]

  28. Oh sweetie…that bites. It will feel much better after you do it, I think the anticipation causes more anxiety than anything. You’ll be sad for a while. Keep the good memories.

  29. The best advice a friend gave me: friends for a reason, friends for a season, friends for life. I can say I have had all 3, especially since becoming a Mom and dealing with other Mom’s ( sigh). I have had 1 friend I had to break up with and another that I re-connect with from high school that I am slowly realizing is toxic. I have a feeling that one will just fade away. You will realize in the end how much better you do feel although it will be hard at first.

  30. One of my BEST friends turned this way. Shes still in my life but I dont spend much time with her. My issue is that she complains about everything in her life, but makes no attempt to fix it. Ive come to her rescue for so many things and I just cant do it anymore.
    I have my own problems, I shouldnt be stressing over hers right?
    I never said anything to her because I knew it would cause a fight – so Ive just stopped calling and emailing her. But Ive told her the problem many many times. So in your case it would be different.
    You probably already know what to do, thats whats making it so hard. I’d say follow your gut.

  31. This is the first time I’ve ever read your blog! But I have been through a similar experience…so as an impartial outsider, my advice is to immediately start calling her on it whenever she says something hurtful to you or when you feel she’s taken advantage of you — use it as an opportunity to tell her how you feel. After doing that a few times you’ll be able to say, “see, this is what I’m talking about. These are the reasons why I’m struggling with our friendship.” If she’s being honest with herself, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to her and you will hopefully avoid the awkward breakup conversation. But, she may get defensive and try to push the blame back on you so be sure to have specific examples of what she has done to hurt/take advantage of you. It might even cause her to re-examine the way she treats people. (ok, not likely, but maybe!)

  32. Thanks for stopping by and I truly appreciate your advice!!

  33. […] you… I mean the people and things I surround myself with or allow to influence my life. My girl Kelly talked about toxic relationships a while ago, and that’s something I could throw in a cent or two […]

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