In the words of Neil Sedaka, breaking up is hard to do. And, sometimes, the most painful yet necessary separations are with our closest friends. But how should we go about it? Disappear? Make excuses until they get the hint? Breakups are never perfect, but here are some ideas to keep in mind if you find yourself at the end of your metaphorical friendship rope.
1)Talk about it. It’s important to let your friend know why your relationship needs to change. Perhaps your values and priorities have just become to disparate. Maybe you can’t provide the kind of support your friend needs. Perhaps you feel weighed down by the responsibilities of the relationship and need to restructure your time. Whatever the reason, it’s important to voice it, and to allow your friend the opportunity to understand where you are coming from. Steer clear of blame, and focus more on self-reflection. Friendship is a commitment, and each phase deserves respect- even its an ending.
2) Allow space for pain. You may have already come to terms with the necessity of moving on from a friendship that was once dear and meaningful to you. Allow your friend time to process their own feelings too, and to express them out loud. If both of you have space to acknowledge and vocalize your feelings, you will both be able to move forward with a deeper sense of closure and peace.
3) Set boundaries. Having the breakup conversation is hard enough, and while boundary setting can be awkward, it’s also important. If you know you need serious space after separating from a friend, find confidence to say so. Be polite yet firm if needed, and allow your friend to do the same.
4) Take care of yourself. Even if you know it’s healthiest for your friendship to end, it can still feel like loss. Be gentle to yourself and know that it may take time to fully move through the process. Reach out to loved ones, connect with the things that matter to you, and reflect on the personal strength that you’ve discovered.
Saying goodbye can hurt even when it’s for the best. If you’re considering initiating a best friend breakup, know you’re not alone. Click here to read stories of women who’ve been there.
Written By: Jennifer Martin, M.A.