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It's Not Me, It's You: Breaking Up with a Friend without Starting a War

Posted Oct 18 2012 - 12:00am

As much as we love our roommates, friends, classmates, and acquaintances, there comes a time in many of these platonic relationships where they seem to be headed towards a dead end. It’s one thing if your girlfriend once said something catty behind your back; it’s another if she makes a manipulative bully like Regina George look kind and compassionate. Similarly, a roommate who is kind of a slob is not a big deal compared to one who repeatedly trashes your clothes without even asking to borrow them and then refuses to replace or restore what she damaged. That being said, a friend doesn’t have to be hooking up with your boyfriend without your written approval to be an unhealthy source of stress in your life. In these sorts of circumstances, it’s often healthier to get out of the friendship rather than try to muddle through the rest of your college years being abused and mistreated. Girls can be mean, but that doesn’t mean you have to let yourself be pushed around by “frenemies” until you graduate.

Sorry, Regina, but you’ve got to go.

The tricky part is, it’s hard to extract yourself from friendships that were once healthy and enjoyable. We are girls, it’s in our nature to reminisce about that one time freshman year when your roommate lent you her raincoat when yours was stolen, instead of remeber the fact that just last week, she literally stole your raincoat. And your rain boots. Whether the friend in question is emotionally, physically, or verbally abusive, you do not deserve to be in a relationship where you feel mistreated. We talk a lot about this in regards to romantic relationships, so just think, “If my boyfriend was treating me this way, how would I react?” If the reaction is generally negative, then it might be best to “break-up” with the friend with whom you are in an unhealthy relationship.

Before doing anything drastic, make a list of all the reasons you feel like the friendship is no longer mutually beneficial. Do you feel like you are simply drifting apart, finding other interests or outgrowing one another? Is there a trust issue, a boyfriend she hooked up with, or an increasingly frustrating string of lies that hurts you? Does she use or manipulate you? Do you feel unsafe around her (whether she engages in activities that you don’t find healthy or she forces you to engage in said activities with her)? Simply write down everything you feel is wrong in your relationship; you might actually find that this form of venting is really all you need to gain perspective and a little relief from the stress you have been feeling.

If you look at your completed list and are still sure that a break-up is the right thing to do, it is important - nay, IMPERATIVE - that you communicate thoroughly (and soberly) with the person you are breaking up with (Breakupee? Who knows). This can be, and probably will be, sufficiently awkward, but not nearly as awkward as it would be if you suddenly stopped talking to and pretended you didn’t know the ex-friend in question on the Million Dollar Stairs, or while waiting for your latte in Hillside. Go for a walk around the Res, grab coffee off campus, or even write a letter if you feel that is the best plan of action. Explain why you feel you have been mistreated in your relationship, but stay away from making personal attacks or overarching statements about your friendship. In other words, make “I” statements instead of “you” statements (I feel hurt when you make fun of my clothes, weight, GPA, etc./I feel that my problems aren’t given adequate air time in our relationship/I can’t help but notice that everything I say gets twisted to mean something that it didn’t mean originally). Furthermore, take some of the blame yourself. Every friendship is a two-way street. Nobody is perfect, and it is probable that you are causing at least some of the issues in your fractured friendship. Finally, just as important as it is for you to get your ideas out in the open, it is crucial that you sit and listen to what your friend will have to say. Let her respond, but don’t react defensively. It is important to stay calm and avoid a nasty altercation. Some of what she says may hurt, but just remember that the bomb you just dropped on her probably hurt quite a bit, too. Stand your ground, don’t waver on your opinions, and let her know that, while you respect her opinions, you still don’t think that the relationship that has developed between the two of you is healthy any longer.

You don’t have to be a B to come out of the conversation feeling good about the outcome.

Friendships are one of the most important, valuable, and rewarding relationships that we can engage in. True friends are selfless, caring, and people who you truly enjoy spending quality time with. If you feel that a particular acquaintance of yours is not meeting these criteria, then it may be time to move on. With a little maturity and a lot of patience, you can navigate the break-up of a friendship relatively painlessly. Though any type of break-up is hurtful and takes time to heal from, you will be relieved once it is over.

True friends will stick with you, lift you up, and encourage you.

Photo Sources:
http://www.stealtheirstyle.co.uk
http://www.tvfanatic.com/gallery/a-confrontation/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/3673404/Sarah-Je....

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