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I can give you unlimited advice about breaking up with the person that you’re dating. When my friends need help breaking up, I’m the go-to girl, and if you’re one of the unlucky people on the receiving end of these breakups, you can thank me for making my friend break up with you ASAP instead of stringing you along. I’ve got that shit down to a science. But when it comes to breaking up with a friend, however, I’m fucking terrible at it.
To me, the only time it’s straightforward is when the person has brazenly wronged you in a way that makes it impossible to mend the friendship, such as stealing from you or fucking your significant other, or even when they’re just a bad influence/ general force of negativity in your life. In these scenarios, I think an, “I’m sorry, but this friendship isn’t healthy because [x], and I can’t continue it,” will suffice. I’m not saying it’s uncomplicated, but when it’s justified, I don’t feel as bad about it.
The challenge that I find to be absolutely insurmountable is when the friend hasn’t done anything wrong, but you’ve just figured out that you don’t want to have to hang out with them, preferably ever again. I wish it was similar to dating where when you realize you don’t have long-term compatibility, the best approach is to be straight-up and say something along the lines of, “Sorry, I’m not interested” or, “I just don’t think we have a connection,” but can you really get away with that with a friend? Even the thought of it gives me immense anxiety. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but it just feels so much meaner to reject a person you don’t have a romantic relationship with. So what do you do?
Can you ghost? I’m not a fan of ghosting in general because I find it to be cowardly, but honestly, it seems less harsh than directly conveying to the person trying to be your friend that you would rather not reciprocate. In the days before smartphones, this was definitely the move. You could ghost, hope to never see the person again, and if you did, you could blame your lack of response on a glitch in technology that just happened to block this specific person’s messages from reaching your inbox. Pre-smartphone was the wild, wild west of technological communication. Anything could happen.
But in the modern era of “delivered” notifications and social media making it extremely difficult to go off the grid, nobody is falling for that shit. Everyone knows that repeated ghosting is the passive-aggressive form of rejection. But is this still less unpleasant for both you and your friend than blatant rejection? Possibly.
What about the “constantly busy” method where every time the undesired friend asks you to hang out, you can’t seem to make it because you’re just out in the world hustling? It’s less shitty than ghosting because at least you’re acknowledging this person’s existence. And then, hopefully, the person just gives up on you after a while, chalking it up to strenuous demands of our modern society. Truthfully, this is the route that I usually take, and I’m not proud of it, but I can’t think of any better way.
Because when I’m stuck contemplating these types of social dilemmas, I try to ask myself the age-old question, “How would I want to be treated?” Nobody has ever told me that they just plain and simple don’t want to be my friend, so I can’t say how I would react. Depending on the person, it could range from being immediately thankful to not have them in my life to eventually thankful after I processed it in therapy for a week or two decades.
But I might prefer that a person be “busy” the couple of times that I try to initiate a hangout, which will then prompt me not to initiate a third time because I’m not a stage-5 clinger. Even though I’ll have a fleeting thought that it’s personal, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll continue on my merry way thinking we’re all just on our grind.
Or there’s always the option of reluctantly staying friends with the person for the next 60 years out of fear of hurting their feelings, which I also definitely have the potential to persuade myself into doing.
All of these roads are admittedly rocky, so please help a girl navigate. When y’all no longer want to associate with someone, what is the best way to break it to them? Can you really just use the same painfully honest technique that you use in dating? Or do friends, bless their hearts, require a different approach? .