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How to break up with a friend?

I didn’t want to write such “downer” entries anymore, but this bothers me a lot. So here goes… 😉


Just received a mail of an old friend of mine. Every time I hear something from her, I get sad. And think about her for days. We spent much of our teens together and were BFF at the time. It was nice enough, and I really liked her. But then, when we grew older, she changed a lot. She had a lot of boyfriends, and with every new boyfriend she changed her personality. One liked to wear leather pants, that’s why she immediately bought one pair for herself too. There’s nothing wrong with leather pants. But I don’t think she would have bought them without him. Another guy liked her to be the cute sidekick, so she started to wear short skirts and dresses, trying to be quiet and cute all the time. The last one is very rude to her, but I think he’s a keeper, because he lasted the longest and she’s still with him. I find she has very low self-esteem to be like that but I couldn’t help her. She wouldn’t listen to me, because I didn’t have boyfriends at the time. So how am I one to talk?!

When we left for university and lived together, she started to annoy me. She always complained about her workload and only told me about her problems. I regularly wonder if she always was that way, and if it was only me that had changed. It bothers me that I was so close to her when I hate people like her nowadays. I wonder if she had treated me that way in our teens too, or if I only became aware of it when I was older. And if she always treated me like that, what does that say about my personality?

The toughest time was when my dad died. I wanted to be left alone and cry the whole time, but because we shared a room I couldn’t do it. I was a wreck, more like a ghost than a human and I couldn’t get anything done. I don’t know if she is aware of it, but there are so many instances when she hurt me with her remarks and I didn’t have the strength to counter them. I couldn’t believe that she would complain to me about her silly little problems when I couldn’t even handle my life. There was some kind of academic competition going on. While only one-sided, she consistently wanted to make sure she does more than me, gets better grades than me, is more successful than me. I never cared for that and it was easy for her to accomplish more than me at those days. It was an exhausting time. I blocked to talk about my dad, but I thought she would be sensitive enough to see that I didn’t have the mind to console her. Maybe there should be a manual for how to deal with people who just lost someone. You can never say the right thing, but you can act the right way. I also make mistakes when dealing with people who mourn, but I hope I am more aware of their feelings than she was of mine. I felt so worn out because of her, I was extremely happy when she left to study abroad for a year. That gave me time… Then I went abroad myself and I didn’t have to “see” her for a few years, but we still wrote each other mails. Luckily, I could escape the skype calls 😉

When I came back I met up with her, but it was still the same. And awkward. I once told her via mail how much she sucked me dry at that time and how I felt let down by her. But we didn’t talk about it in person. She wanted to hold on to me and still thought about our friendship as something special. She still wanted to relive the old times with me. After a few meetings, I managed to avoid contact and now we only send each other little birthday messages. Which is silly, considering we don’t talk to each other anymore. I guess you cannot make a clear cut with a friendship like you can with a relationship. When a relationship is done, it’s done. But how do you know when a friendship is done? There should also be a manual for that…

I know this might not fit here, but I dig the picture 😉 via

In her mail today she asks me what I’m doing now and so on. She attached a picture of old classmates of ours she recently visited. Told me she got a job. I guess she won the academic competition since I’m still here writing my thesis… Maybe she can take some comfort in that. The tone of the mail is somehow whiny. She added this smiley when she said that she didn’t hear from me in a while:  :-((((((((((((((((((( She always makes me feel guilty when she does that. And I really don’t know how to react to that. On the one hand, I feel sorry for her. I guess she doesn’t understand the impact of her demeanor on me at that time. But I cannot be around her anymore without hating on her. What’s worrying me, is she the scapegoat for my dad’s death or is she really that person? I think that’s why I cannot make a clear cut. There are many questions left unanswered. While I wanted to go on with my life without having to deal with those downers, I guess I cannot escape. The past always comes back…If only I knew how to answer her mail now.


10 responses »

  1. My mom had so many toxic friends (each in their own unique flavor), it was important to me to minimize the time I spent on them and focus that time on people who were interested in two-way support, care and friendship. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do it, but many years ago, I sent out a handful of emails that said something akin to, “Thank you for being a part of my past. Good luck in your adventures to come, which–respectfully and with no hostility–I will not be a part of.” Another approach is to simply stop replying. Create a filter to drop future letters into your spam folder and call it done. With so little time, better to spend it involved with people who’ll build you up, even if they’re people who can’t recall you as a teen! Good luck, whichever path you take here.

    • Wow, that is such brilliant advice! The text you sent out sounds so cool and courageous, I might rip that off 🙂 It says everything in a short and very respectful way. I never thought of that, always thought I am somehow stuck. Maybe you should write a manual on how to end friendships! I would definitely buy it 😉 Thank you for showing me another perspective!

      • Something I encountered before I came on the short form was that longer letters were seen as an invitation for discussion. Shorter letters meant the decision was already made–not from a place of hate but from one of health and different needs from those once held. I see this even more now in contracts work. 🙂 Glad my words were at all useful and I seriously hope it goes well. It’s freeing to realize it’s all a choice . . . your choice!

  2. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a friendship manual. Wouldn’t life be some much easier if there was?!?
    Breaking up is hard to do, but I have learned that toxic people lead to toxic behaviour. If you are around it, eventually you become accustomed to it, and accept it (which is never good) or you start to partake in it (which is worse).
    I wish you luck, perhaps a reality check of not receiving email back from you will send your ‘friend’ a message, that you are done with her shenanigans, and you are done with her.

  3. I agree with Deborah “Another approach is to simply stop replying. Create a filter to drop future letters into your spam folder and call it done. With so little time, better to spend it involved with people who’ll build you up.”

    But you mention in reply to Christa that you still want to reply back. MMP I think it is time for tough love. Do you know the song by Pink “Just Like a Pill”. Your friend is like a pill and making you ill. She is no good for your well being. I bet even thinking about her sometime make your stomach hurt a bit. I understand wanted to keep a person in your life and watch from the outside what going on with them. But if they give you stress and they are not acting as what a friend should be you have to have strength and let them go.

    Short story. I had a good friend that when we were both single life was great. When I met my husband our friendship slowly went down hill. She wanted to be in a relationship and married. I wanted to date for ever. Instead I fell in love and told her and she was not happy for me. She complained when I tried to make time for my husband. She wanted us to continue doing the same thing as if he was not in the equation. We continue talking but it felt as if I was the one doing all the calling and pushing our friendship to work out. She was my maid of honor as we always planned to be each others. On the day of my wedding she did not show up. Later on she told me it is not fair that I am married when she wanted to be the one. Was I angry with her. No, actually disappointed. Did we spoke to each other after that. Nope I erased her numbers, eventually moved, and is happily living my life. Do I think about her sometimes. Ofcourse I do. She was my friend and in some what weird way I understand how she feel but not on her reaction. Good friends are honest to each other and disgust one feelings to each other. Not waiting for things to happen. Since we last spoke I wish her the best in life and that she find what she is looking for to make her happy. I think of her always but to try to contact her again, no thanks. I don’t need anyone to try to undermine me or my relationship with my husband.

  4. Hey there! It’s true that my stomach hurts when I think about her sometimes 😉 I have a feeling that it will never go away.
    I finally had the guts to write her two weeks ago or something. Now that I’ve done it, I’m still a bit fearful of what’s coming. Let’s say she doesn’t like rejection too much, and I’m waiting for some kind of “bomb”. I’m feeling great that I finally did it, but she’s still haunting me 😉
    And thanks for sharing your story. That’s some “friend” you had there! I can’t believe what she did to you and I hope she didn’t ruin your wedding day!
    I guess we can only hope that they find happiness! And even more, we have to strive to be good friends ourselves!
    Thanks for reading and subscribing 🙂

    • Naw, she did not ruin my day. I just had one less person. No guest really knew who was the bridesmaid or maid of honor because my theme color was black and white. I told everyone they could wear what ever they want in black and white. I know for weddings many people want the group to be in sinq but many of my friends were student and I wanted to to buy what they could afford plus be able to wear it again. Hey they will still be thinking about my wedding day when they do, lol. So if that was her plan it did not work. I had a great wedding day regardless. What is the saying…the show must go on 😉

      Why are you waiting for a bomb to explode? You wrote your feeling out to her right? Then I am sure she will have a counter letter. When she does please don’t take it back and forth. If it must be than just end it with a phone call and both of you get it off your chest. I love writing but sometime writing to another when it comes to feeling is like an never dieing story. So talk it over via skype or telephone.

      • That’s good to hear 😉 A black and white wedding sounds very unusual and cool!
        I don’t know what I’m waiting for. That she’s badmouthing me, that she sends me a threatening letter, a dead rat in the mailbox 😉 I know it’s stupid and after a few weeks, I should relax … My letter to her didn’t leave room for discussion, so I don’t know if she even sends me a counter letter. Thanks for your advice!

  5. Pingback: Thank You « Life in a Nutshell

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