Growing up, it isn’t unusual for two friends to naturally and mutually drift apart. It also isn’t unusual for one side to start pulling away and the other to accept this and let go. However, what may seem less usual is actively breaking up with a friend. Sure, people break up with romantic partners all the time, but to break up with your friend? You message the friend and say, “We need to talk,” or send a long letter explaining why you no longer want to see them? What?
As unusual as this may indeed seem, it does happen–and it’s becoming more and more acknowledged as an acceptable and common thing today. I myself have drifted apart from friends and even “broken up” with them when I decided enough was enough. I know friends who have done this with other friends, as well.
Just like breaking up with a significant other, breaking up with a platonic friend can be tricky. When do you know to pull the plug? Since it seems to be such a drastic move, when does it become necessary? I will talk both about the signs as well as the reasons it is okay to do this, no matter how dramatic you may find the move.
You find yourself drained after spending time with your friend
When you go out for a girls’ night, you go out to relieve stress and to have fun–so at the end of it, sure you may be physically exhausted, but you should be emotionally rejuvenated! Even when you go out for a one-on-one with a friend, you are excited to talk with that person. You should go back home afterwards feeling satisfied. If this is not the case, and you realize that you return home feeling more emotionally drained than recharged every single time you go out with that one friend, then it’s time to reevaluate this relationship.
You find yourself feeling majorly stressed after every single interaction
In the same grain, if you come back feeling not only drained but actually stressed out from this time together, then it is time to end things. This friend could be the nicest, sweetest person you know, but if you two do not jive in the same sense and you are unable to understand their actions or sentiments to the point you actually feel stressed from the interaction, it is time to bid adieu. I once had to “break up” with a friend whom I thought was genuinely a kind person but whose priorities were so different from mine, I would get stressed from hearing her go on and on about topics I really did not care about or find important.
You dread meeting up or even talking
Continuing on, if you literally start feeling miserable and immense dread at the prospect of meeting up with this friend, obviously things are not meant to continue. You should always be excited to see a friend, not think of the meet-up as something you have to “endure.” If you find yourself trudging toward the hangout sesh, making up excuses to cancel, or avoiding making plans with them for as long as possible, just end it. You can try to fall off the map, but if that doesn’t work, breaking up is the right thing to do for both parties.
You feel a hit in self-esteem
If this friend doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, this is another sign you should break up with them. Whether this friend has an amazing life that is always being shoved into your face or is actively putting you down every single time, this blow after blow in your self-esteem is not good for you. The latter example could be downright abusive. Why stay in any hurtful relationship if you can end it?
You get a sense it’s one-sided
If that friend is all about themselves, this is not even a relationship to begin with. If that person always wants to hear themselves talk, always wants you to just listen to rants or agree with what they are saying, always wants you to help or support them while offering none of that in return, it is time to get off this one-way street. You are being used, my friend!
It is not always personal
As mentioned above, this might not mean you do not like the friend as a person–rather you two are not compatible enough as friends. Yes, even friendships require compatibility and chemistry to a degree! If you two are not on the same page, have different priorities, are at very different places in your life, or more, you should not worry about affronting the friend. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out or is meant to be.
It is better for both parties
A friendship, like all relationships, involve two parties. If one party, like yourself, does not feel like things are working out, it is best not only for that party but also for the second one to end things. The other friend involved also deserves a relationship in which both sides are invested. Two people have to be on the same page–not all the time of course but in the most important ways–in order for there to be a friendship that works.
You come first
This is the most important point. In the end, as hard as it is, you should not feel responsible for other people’s feelings. Yours has to come first. If you are literally drained, stressed, and miserable from this friendship, you should not care as much about hurting someone else’s feelings but about taking care of yourself. Your well-being always comes first. You have to look out for yourself. Never feel guilty about this (totally easier said than done, though, I know). Remember to practice self-love.
Breaking up with a friend is definitely a tricky, complicated procedure. There are many different ways to this. You could try to talk it out, you could write a letter, you could cut off all ties cold turkey, but in the end, if you feel like there are enough signs and you believe it’s the right thing to do, go for it.
Have you ever broken up with a friend before?