Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's not me— it's you.

What happens when a friendship has outlived it's worth? I think we all have that one friend, the friend we've known since forever. Maybe the friendship was founded on convenience or circumstance. Or maybe the two of you were just completely different places in your lives when the original bond was made. Maybe you were children! But beyond any history you have with this person, the bottom line is that if the two of you were introduced today, there would be about ZERO chance of a friendship blossoming. Period.

Now that's all well and good. Maybe you've got that friend. And maybe even, for all your differences, you still love this person to death, and cherish them like family. But on the other hand...
What if you don't?

Friends and readers need not worry. You are not the inspiration for this blog. Oh, this person of inspiration very much exists. But to him or her, the internet is but a means of sending out the occasional mass emailing to either brag or cry for attention.

I digress. A bitch session was not my intention. What does one do when an old friend crosses into the realm of nuisance and chore? Do you simply avoid the phone calls? If you're like me, unadulterated phone time is a precious commodity. Do you really want to waste this valued time chatting with someone who makes you grit your teeth through the conversation?

There just isn't any graceful way of breaking up with a friend. You simply can't say, "I think we should just be friends." Because... aaaaakward! And let's face it. Deep down inside you don't want to cut them off. If you stayed friends this long there was probably, at some point, something redeeming about the friendship. What if this person really came through for you in a time of need? Could you really turn your back on them like that? What's more, how could you live with that burden of guilt on your shoulders? For the rest of your life! Or what about all those good times you had. Cutting off the friendship would be desecrating those memories.

Readers I implore you. If anyone out there had found a way to gracefully end a friendship; or even put it on the shelf, to be occasionally dusted off and admired... Well, I would like to know. And I know for a fact that I am not the only one dealing with an exhausting and tired friendship. Adding your thoughts would almost be like civic duty. You don't want to let down your fellow man, do you? Commence discussion.... now!

20 comments:

couscouscaboose said...

Here's what I did with someone who I'd known for a million years yet made me want to stab her every time she opened her mouth: I stopped answering her calls and emails and I just spy/make fun of her on myspace. It's really worked well.

aejr said...

i sent megan d. two presents, one for her son's birthday and one for hers, then I never returned her calls. i figure if i ever run into her at giant, i'll remind her that she stole a nurse's check and ID and tried to cash it, and that i don't want her in my house!

litelysalted said...

cccLove your answer. The thing is though, I really wish no ills on my particular friend. In fact I would be nothing but happy for this person if they ended up living a perfect fairytale life. But I'm just sick of hearing nothing but long-winded, bloated exaggerations about how great their life is everytime I talk to them, without so much as a modicum of interest as to what's going on in my life, and the lives of our respective familes and mutual friends. It's just like, enough already; this has been going on for years now.

aejr— I can only weep for Megan.

Meech! said...

OK, I have like 10 minutes before a big boring phone conference.

I've had this. I know exactly what you're saying; despite your discomfort you continue contact on a regular basis, and wince while precious time ticks away before you simply MUST see/talk to this person again. Someone who doesn't deserve a scolding, but if you never saw him or her again, you'd be much more comfortable with his/her presence in your memories.

The fact is, I have no idea what the hell to do!!! I never had the balls to cut it off... so if the person didn't just naturally fade (or move) away, I found ways to contact the person in ways that wouldn't allow him/her to do the things that annoyed me most - whether those things were constant complaints about a crappy family, unending pity parties, lame taste in entertainment, or just plain sitting around and doing nothing... I just avoided, say phone conversations that didn't have a time limit, or hanging out on a weekend night that was clearly open ended, or going to that person's house when he/she was upset.

If s/he calls you all the time, screen once in a while, but when you do pick up, preface the conversation with a timeline. "Hey man, gotta go in about 10 minutes. What's up?" Also, try bringing up the past - swap old stories about funny shit you've been through. Maybe it will be fun, though counter-productive to the forward momentum of life. :P

Don't underestimate the power of changing the subject. "You got 3 new cars? That reminds me of the time we went fishing in the nude. Remember fishing? In the nude? Huh? Huh?" Or, if the problem is really something of an ego trip, don't be afraid to start drifting into silence. That usually gets the point across, if changing the subject doesn't.

Summary: find new, alternate ways to enjoy this person's company. If you can't, kill the person. ..Seriously, just stop talking to her. She'll get the hint. If she comes crawling, just explain "Sorry... it just doesn't feel like it used to, and I'm so busy all the time. Guess I got older. Do you know what I mean?"

Write an instructional blog on how to break up with friends!!!

Anonymous said...

Here's what I did (and it was mean) to a friend who called only to vent/cry/have a shoulder to lean on.

I told her: "Don't call me again unless you have something positive to say. I just don't want to hear it."

And since there was nothing she had to say that was positive, that was the end of it.

sme said...

meech! is brilliant.

i re-connected with an old friend via myspace a while ago, and now i can't get her to leave me alone. one of the things i hate most about her is the really insane/gross comments she leaves on my page. i usually end up deleting them, and she notices and complains.
she also spends most of our together time bitching about her crazy/co-dependent boyfriend, who calls every other minute to make sure she's not having sex with one of her many guy friends.
i'd like to drop her, but i have a huge guilt problem - AND i would have to delete my myspace because i she's got stalker tendencies. so i just continue to keep up this weird facade of a friendship. maybe she'll get bored of me one day (i've been trying to be less interesting around her lately) and she'll do my dirty work for me.
ugh. i'm a wuss.

sme said...

.....or.....here's an idea. Send your friend an invite to view your blog. Make sure the invite appeals to his/her ego and they're sure to check it out, read this here blog, and hopefully take the hint.

lively said...

You could also call them on their shit. If they always brag about how they are doing, find out what they are compensating for. If they always complain, ask them why they only bring up the bad with you. If they are selfishly monopolizing the conversation, ask them what they get out of this relationship and then explain how little you get out of it. I have found that people don't always realize what they are doing. A lot of the time, we don't see the patterns in our own behavior. Pointing it out their patterns can have one of three effects: 1. a meaningful conversation that can result in the reviving of the friendship. 2. insulting the individual and therefore an ending or at least distancing of the relationship. Or 3. no real change, but at least you feel better for being assertive.

Ultimately you have a choice and being honest (but not mean) about the situation just may help things.
Good luck!

litelysalted said...

Fuck therapists! All the modern gal really needs is a website and some awesome, insightful readers like you guys.

You could also call them on their shit. If they always brag about how they are doing.

This is the case exactly. And I've been working in some subtle callings of the shit, but I think this person needs a calling of the shit that's the equivalent of getting punched in the face by a toaster oven.

Uncle JR said...

An answering machine to screen your calls is the best thing going.

Then, when you're not in the mood for your friend's crap, just let it go to vm.

Above all, take control and don't let your friend drive you where you don't want to go.

It sounds like the whole relationship is a pile right now, so walk away.

It's not worth it. Spend time with people you enjoy being with, not with people you feel are a burden to even deal with.

Superkays said...

This was easy... I just set my friend up with this girl who really hates me (I cheated on the girls best friend in highschool -about 10 years ago - and she still hates my guts). They hit it off and now he (my friend) can't have any contact with me... (we still meet up for a beer every 3 months or so which suits me just fine) He'll probably marry her and think I did him a favour.

If your friend is married then just pick a fight with his/her spouse and watch the contact dry up.

Divine Bird said...

I'd sit down (or call) and tell the person outright, "We've been friends for a long time, and while we've had some good times, we've just become very different people. I can't connect with anything you're talking about, so I think we should really just part ways." I actually did this with one person, who ended up changing her tune, and we are MUCH better friends for it today. Not my intent, but I gave it a chance when it was evident our relationship meant more to her than I'd thought.

I have a lot of friends from high school and college who I see from time to time because we all live in the same small town. Some of them, I remember being REALLY close to, but then we all went to hang out one night and realized we had absolutely nothing in common anymore. We're still friendly, just not hang-out friendly.

I would definitely call this person on their shit. Either they'll wake up and apologize and the friendship will heal, or they'll get upset and angry and that would make it easier to tell them to hit the road. Either way, problem solved. :)

Shane said...

Ah the trials of friendship. Here's my advice: don't throw the friendship away because who knows when you might actually need this person in the future...as a job reference, as a friendly ear, or even for a kidney. The best thing to do is to fight fire with a little fire. When she starts talking about her great job and fancy cars, tell her about your amazingly new, kinky sex life. Nothing can end a phone conversation like some well-timed and uncomfortable details about the mad monkey sex you had with someone who reminds you of your Dad the night before. Save that, you could always make every conversation about your bowels and their constant state of disruption. That can end a conversation QUICKLY.

Best of luck, hon.

-s-

AJ said...

You could probably bore this person. Since you have nothing in common with this friend, talk about things you know he/she isn't into. And cut out the personal chit chat. The friend will probably minimize contact to a more acceptable level.

NP said...

I decided to cut all ties after the conversation that went like this:

ME: I got a job!
Her: Yay. Did I tell you about my haircut?

It was a slow process that included deliberately forgetting her birthday but the entire process was eased by her moving out of state, which made it a lot easier to not pick up calls. Somehow, she still thinks we are friends, as demonstrated by her recently using me as a reference. So not really sure how I did it without her hating my guts - but it is possible.

Anonymous said...

You have two options: the easy way and the hard way.

The easy way: Screen her calls. ALL OF THEM. Just don't pick up the phone...ever. Don't email, don't answer your phone, don't hang out. Eventually things will fizzle out and die. It works every time. It might not be the kindest thing, but its defenitely not the meanest. I, personally, like to avoid confrontatin at all costs. I am the Queen of the fizzle. If you accidently bump into her play the fake shock... "What? You have been calling? I'm sorry. I've been SO busy. I'll call you!" But don't call. Ever. FIIIZZZLLLEEEE.

The hard way: Be honest! Tell her (nicely) why she bugs the hell out of you. That will put an end to things rather quickly, or maybe she will change. But either way, its win win.

litelysalted said...

I just want to say again how awesome you guys are and how appreciative I am of all the great feedback!

ME: I got a job!
Her: Yay. Did I tell you about my haircut?


This is pretty much the situation, only without the "Yay" to my respect. Except it's more like:

Me: I'm building a house! From scratch. Mr. Salted and I designed it ourselves, and we're really excited and proud of it.

Her: Well, let me tell you for the 40th time about my fabulous apartment! It's totally better than your house because it's within walking distance to the mall! Which is better than the mall near you, by the way.

Me: I live down a backroad, on a private wooded lot, I don't even like malls and I do all my shopping online.

Her: Yeah. It has, like, 200 more stores than your mall. You would love it. By the way, would you like to hear again how much money my boyfriend makes? Next week I'm probably going to dump him for a nightclub security guard, but when I take him back again because he misses me so much, I'll have to make sure I update you on his salary when that time comes.

Hm. I may have said too much. Well, let it also be said that she lives several states away... so for now, no worry of run-ins. Just constant phone calls. Which, yes... I will start screening and stop returning as frequently, I believe.

I love you in the face said...

I've "broken up" with friends before ...though it's been years. The first was in highschool. She was a tiny, bulimic girl who wouldn't leave me alone and got angry when I made plans that didn't include her. She later became very popular which, I'll admit, grated on me a bit. I remembered however just how uncomfortable she made me. Even if we had remained friends, the trade-off probably wouldn't have been worth it. I count that situation as "better off for both of us." She got a bevy of other bulimic friends and I got spared.

The second friend I 'broke up' with was a college pal who was distracting me from my studies so much that it seemed on purpose. One day when she showed up unannounced at my dorm room AFTER I told her I had a 7am exam the next day, I finally got the guts to tell her that I needed some space. She took that to mean "Stalk loveyouintheface by becoming best pals with her roommate, prank-call her ceaselessly, and accost her boyfriend on campus to ask personal questions about their romantic life." She was horrid and I was really relieved to see her go.

Beyond active weirdo friends who drive you bonkers, I let friendships I'm passively uncomfortable or done with slide. I don't burn any bridges and since the two weird ones, I've had a few friendships cross the boundaries into "not worth it because you are scaring me or hanging out isn't enjoyable anymore." Instead of calling it off and inviting more trouble I just slack off on the obligatory maintenance.

It's hard to say what's right. Friendships evolve and change all the time but I don't want to lose someone just because I'm a moody mofo. I'm more conscious of that than when I was younger I think so I'm more cautious about what bridges I burn and why.

robert swayze said...

I did this with one of my very close friend when his outspoken nature started creating hazards in my life...he blabbered out every detail of my childhood deeds without checking out the listeners...I was so damn bugged with him and the best thing I could do is just ignore in a humble not...I tried making him understand things at first but he gave a deaf ear to all of it...what I did was simply ignore him and that too very blatantly...when I found him absolutely unmoved by my initial humble ignorance...some people on this earth are not meant to be explained...so just ignore to the core!

jerrylane said...

i actually spoke to him about it. we'd been friends since high school, so this was someone i'd known for entire adult life (at that point). he was resentful, saying, "you'll see that i was a better friend to you, than you were to me", which left me mystified. when i countered with specifics he really didn't want to deal with it. he wasn't aware that i'd already done a pros/cons list which led me to this decision. i think what i wanted to see was that by putting him on the spot i'd misunderstood him and that he really believed there was value in saving a decade-old friendship. it was really about his pride. it was a shitty experience.