How to Break Up with a Friend

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Throughout a single lifespan, one person can make a multitude of friends. Most people desire to have a close bond with someone who is not a part of their family so that they can grow from mutual interests. There are a select few who are still friends with those whom they had play dates with, but most of the time the people separate due to new locations, interests, and friendships created in other areas. It is not uncommon for us to lose and make friends, but when friends are made and unwanted is when a problem arises. 

Recently, I went through an awkward encounter with someone whom I did not want to evolve a friendship with. I was attending an event with one of my friends and we sat down at a table with strangers. They seemed nice, but when the event started we realized these were not the people we wished to be friends with. I began to become distant from them and would not engage in conversation, yet they still were trying to make me a friend of theirs. After a few encounters, the stranger said a few words which were offensive to me and I knew the situation could not go on any longer. The next time I encountered them, I had to explicitly state that I did not want to be friends around them. It was quite awkward and I feel guilty about doing it to them, but I am grateful that I was able to do it as I realized it is better for us to be awkward for a little while and move on instead of me being in an uncomfortable position for a long period of time. Going through this situation, I realized others may have gone or are still in the uncomfortable friendship with someone, and there are a few steps one can follow to get out of the situation.

Step 1: Start to become distant from them

Usually the easiest and most clear approach is to become distant from the other person. Some examples of becoming distant are not attending events together, eating with other people, and spending minimal to no time together. The other person may be upset by realizing what you are doing and might confront you about it. If that happens, you can either explain how you just want some time apart or make an excuse about why you aren't spending a lot of time together (although making excuses is incredibly counterproductive). If you end in a fight with the person, then follow the next step.

Step 2: Let your other friends know of your discomfort and ask for help with the situation

After you have become distant and there is no progress, your friends may take notice of your discomfort. Although they do not always take notice, just tell them what you are doing and how you are feeling. Your other friends may be confused at first, but when you begin to explain to them why you feel the way you do, they wil have a better understanding. If one of your friends is close with the person you are uncomfortable with, make sure to have a separate conversation about the situation. The other friend may feel uncomfortable, but if you show the support in their friendship, they will most likely show support in your decision. After your friends are familiar with the situation, they can help give hints about other things you can do to assist in the situation. Your friends are one of your best options for help as they know you and what you are comfortable with doing in the situation. If none of your friends' advice works, step 3 is the best way to get your opinion out there.

Step 3: Explicitly tell them that you do not wish to be friends 

This technique is a bit unorthodox as it is usually against social norms to explicitly state the status of your friendship. When you are in this situation, it is usually, if not always, awkward because the other party may not be aware of your emotions and still wish to continue the friendship. Don't try to sugarcoat the truth, but don't be blunt either. The best way to get out the information is to be honest with the other person and to be patient as they try to come to terms with the fact that the friendship is coming to an end. Some lines you can say to the other person are I'm sorry, but I don't want to be friends anymore; I don't feel comfortable in this friendship anymoreI feel ____ in this friendship and I don't like feeling like that. After each phrase, explain why you wish the friendship to end. The hardest part is trying to distance yourself once the final conversation has ended, but if you stay strong both people can move on to step 4.

Step 4: Move Forward

You may feel guilty about ending the friendship (I did too) and it is perfectly normal. Ending any relationship will cause feelings of sorrow for most people, but you can move forward. Don't try to bask in the "good times" as it will only make the feelings of sorrow worse. The best thing is to do other activities with your other friends and not let a little discomfort stop you from living your life. Throughout life you will gain and lose friends, and this is only one stage of it. 

The entire process is awkward, unusual, and weird to go through as you might not be familiar of how to "break up" with a friend, but if you keep your feelings honest it should go smoothly with only a few bumps to the end of the relationship.

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