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Friday, March 6, 2009

Can you really break up with your friends?

Yes, you can. Sometimes, you have to.

Over the last three years, I've had to end quite a few friendships. These are people that I had known for 10-15 years. Now, I wasn't really aware that I was "breaking up" with this people at the time. I just knew that I didn't want them around anymore. Their behavior had come to be so out of control, so toxic, that I just had to get them out of my life. And just a few days ago, I made the decision to let go someone that I've had in my life for nearly 20 years. It wasn't an easy decision to make at all-- well, that's not true. The decision was easy. Understanding the decision was a different story.

As the song says, breaking up is hard to do. But why is it so much harder to break up with your friends? It's almost as if your friendships are more intimate than your boyfriend /girlfriend. Your friends have always been there. They've known you the longest. They've been there through the good times and the bad times. They've seen all the relationships you've been through, known all the jobs you've held. You have your favorite bars, your favorite restaurants. You've been to concerts together, vacations've shared your lives with each other.

But what happened? Somehow, someway, over time, something is different. Something has changed. Maybe you get married, and/or have kids. Maybe you have a new job, with new responsibilities that keep you busier than before. Or, maybe you've met new people. Friendships are like any other relationships; they can either grown and evolve with you, or they cannot. You may change, but your friends may not. For whatever reason, these feelings never come up overnight. They kind of sneak up on you. One day, you're sitting there with your friend(s), and the thought occurs to you...why am I with this person? They may say something that rubs you the wrong way. Or maybe they're just not saying enough. You find that you're either carrying the weight, or they're weight is getting to heavy for you to carry. Or, simply enough, you're just tired of putting up with their bullsh*t.

There was a time in my life when I thought that I could deal with people's craziness and other assorted personality quirks, which is a nice way of saying "their freakish, self-centered, immature, obnoxious, toxic garbage". That time in my life has passed. Maybe it's because I have a three year-old daughter-- they say that becoming a parent changes you. But if I'm going to be honest about this, I felt that I had outgrown these people a few years before my daughter showed up. Maybe becoming older has shortened my patience and tolerance for certain people.

Whatever the reasons, once the decision is made...the execution(s) is easy. I've always been good at being blunt with people. The only thing that's difficult is the reaction you get. Most people opt for email, which is fine (I've had to write a few 3-pagers). Phone calls also work well. I don't really mind saying what needs to be said in person but, you know what? Why go through the trouble? It's a band-aid that needs to be ripped off. Sure it'll sting a big, but it's done it's job, and now it's time to take that dirty, stale, sticky, blood-stained thing off.

It's for the best.

1 comment:

Theodore White, C.S.A said...

A good view on outgrowing one's friends Chuck. I had to do this myself after I reached the age of 33-34. It was time. I often found that the friends I have outgrown in my mid-to-late 20s were the same ones who I always felt were "missing something" in the sense that they behaved as if time often stood still, when we all know that time is always in motion.

People change, lifestyles and interests progress, and gradually, especially when it comes to friends over the years, people have to move on with their true calling in life, and in effect, grow up.

I think we can really break up with our friends, and that the reasons are that as time goes by we mature more into a world that requires us to make use of all the things we've experienced and learned over the years, and to begin to learn that we can make a difference in the world by growing up, and letting the childish things of our earlier lives go.