Despite a friendship’s timeline or degree of closeness, sometimes, against all odds and efforts, it’s best to call it quits. This, in many cases, can hurt a hell of a lot more than breaking up with a partner. But how do you break up with a friend, exactly? Well, let’s first confirm that it won’t be easy. Not even a little bit.
You’ve known this person your entire life, you’ve shared more intimate details with them than anybody else, and they’ve always been your rock, supporting you in all of your past breakups. Yet sometimes, as things progress, people change, situations change, and the person you once wholeheartedly confided in is a complete stranger to you. When this happens, and your friend has become more of a liability than an asset, you might want to consider breaking up.
To council on this tedious talk, I reached out to Irene S. Levine, PhD, The Friendship Doctor, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. Below, Levine details the proper measures one should take when breaking up with a friend with as little drama as possible.
1. Be Certain Of Your Decision
Before you go through all of the trouble that comes with breaking up with a pal, it’s important to first conclude that this decision to break up is legitimate, and not something you’ve emotionally arrived at after a spontaneous argument. “If you change your mind afterwards, there is no going back to the same level of intimacy,” Levine ensures.
2. In Some Cases, The Talk Doesn't Even Need To Happen
Sometimes breakups occur without anything being said at all, so if this is the case in your scenario, you’ve gotten off relatively easy and the talk isn’t even necessary. “Breakups don’t need to be formal pronouncements,” Levine assures. “The easiest thing is to drift apart by making yourself less available.” She suggests you do this by trying to see the person less, or to hang out with them in group-only situations. If that doesn’t work, however, you’re going to have to be more direct and have the talk.
3. Cater The Talk To Reflect The Friendship
If you do decide to break up, approach it in a way that you feel would cause as little drama as possible. “This will vary based on your personality – that of your friend, the nature of your friendship, and the reasons for the breakup,” Levine says. You – presumably – know this person well enough to consider them a friend, meaning you should know how they react to certain situations.
4. Have The Talk In Person
Like you would expect in a romantic relationship, it’s most commendable to have the dreaded breakup talk in person. It’s also the smartest decision, since putting things in writing (like text, email, etc.) can be easily misunderstood and/or passed onto third persons, Levine adds.
5. Keep This Decision Strictly Between You And Them
Chances are that you and the friend you’re about to breakup with share some mutual pals. Don’t involve them in the breakup. If you need to say something based on what a mutual friend has mentioned, be as vague as possible and don't provide details.
6. Write Things Down
To make sure you’ve made the points you wanted addressed, write a script so you do it right, Levine recommends. “Be as honest and kind as possible; remember that this person was once your friend.” Just, you know, don’t bring the paper and read off of it during the chat. That could be awkward.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Lie
“White lies are perfectly acceptable to avoid the other person lashing out at you or feeling bad about himself/herself,” Levine assures. “Just don’t use it as an opportunity to lash out in anger. You’ve already made your decision.”
8. Take Responsibility For The Breakup
Don’t turn the talk into a blame game, this was your decision to end the friendship, so it’s your duty to accept responsibility for ending things. By all means, don’t blame the other person. “This is best done by talking about how you feel, not how the other person has made you feel,” Levine adds.
9. Stay The Course
Don’t place yourself in a position where you are negotiating with your ex-friend. You’ve made your decision. Stick with it.
10. It's Done
Understand not all friendships last forever. These are volitional relationships and you have every right to surround yourself with good people.
Images: nikolapeskova/Pixalbay; Giphy