Ending a friendship certainly qualifies as a difficult conversation. The problem is: rarely does anyone actually have a conversation to end a friendship. It’s not like a “break-up” between couples. Most friendship ending are one-sided. Phone calls go unanswered. Emails aren’t returned. Invites vanish. The friend is left to figure it out on their own.
There’s no conversation. No explanation. Nothing. The terminator simply cuts the cord of the relationship without expressing what was bothering them. They never express their true feelings and their friend never receives an explanation of what changed, what went wrong.
Funny that people who liked and enjoyed each other so much just go their separate ways without any farewell. No well wishes. It’s just OVER.
Known for hitting on common life experiences, Seinfeld devoted an entire episode to the friend breakup. Speaking of a friend from youth, Jerry turns to George and says, “What can I do breakup with him? Tell him we aren’t right for each other? At least with a woman there’s a precedent…you end it. As a guy, I don’t know how I can break up with another guy…there is nothing I can do. I’ll have to wait for one of us to die.”
Just because no protocol for ending a friendship exists, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t step into that difficult conversation and speak the truth.
How? By choosing the simplest, truest few lines to tell a friend face to face,or at least by phone, how we feel.
It could sound like this,
“You know, Sally, we’ve been drifting apart for awhile and though I have thoroughly enjoyed our friendship, for me, it would be better to just wish each other well and move on.”
Or if the relationship was a struggle, it might sound like,
“After the misunderstanding we had recently, it would be better for me let go of our relationship. I was much too hurt by what happened to continue. I realize we both played a part in the misunderstanding; I’m just not willing to give it more time. I hope you understand.”
Although delivering these messages is definitely a stretch, and not comfortable, don’t we owe our one-time-friends the decency of an explanation? At the very least, a short truthful conversation sure beats the current practice of leaving things unsaid.
What’s your experience been with ending friendships? Did you speak up? Have you been left wondering? Tell me what you think.
And remember this, should you choose to part ways in the future, please tell me, as best you can, the reason you moved on. I promise to do the same.