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Sunday, May 24, 2009

#23: Best Friend Bust-Up

Best Friend Bust-Up Why do many of us insist on keeping a friend we no longer - to be honest - really like? Sometimes, you just have to make a break. Here's when you should and how to do it gracefully.

It was a pretty odd time for someone to be drunk - 6am - but as soon as I heard Cass slurring over the telephone, I knew she'd been at the bottle. Again. She was deliriously drunk and happy; I was at one of my lowest ebbs. My father had just died and I'd been sorting through his things with my family. I told her it wasn't a good time for me to talk. "What you need is a drink," she bellowed. I didn't want to tell her what happened. It was only a week until Christmas and I had no desire to depress her. Besides, had she ever really listened to my troubles? Then she said, "Don't tell me something terrible has happened. Don't tell me one of your parents had died. Ugh, I don't need to hear that now." Well, she'd guessed what was wrong, but she'd also let me know just what kind of a friend she'd be if I needed solace. I did, of course. But not from her. So I switched my cell phone off and ignored her remorseful SMS messages. I knew if I logged on, my e-mail would be bulging.

What Kind Of Pal...?
This wasn't the sole reason I decided I no longer wanted her to be my friend. It was simply the culmination of what had been a sham of friendship for years. I could share the good times with Cass, but, hey, please - no misery around her. Why had I kept on seeing her when I knew there were plenty of other women in my life who were much more nicer, warmer, kinder and better friends? Experts says that at the age of 66 she no longer has anyone in her life that she doesn't want. Sounds fab but how does she do it? "As you get older you realize that you just can't waste your precious time with people who aren't pleasant. But it takes a long time to get there. Well, it's nice to know that in a few decades, we might be able to tell Cass to get lost. But experts urges us not to wait. Women are raised to put others' needs before their own, and that includes other women. We feel guilty and selfish if we don't. It's the same with relatives. So many women go on seeing people they just don't like because it's expected and we think it looks good to other people. A lot of women would rather be good than happy. Which do you want? Harsh words but so true.

It's all about our precious, precious time. A mature women can shift out the dead wood from her life because she doesn't know how much longer she'll be around. But we younger women don't have the luxury of time either. So much of our time is crammed full of working, sleeping, eating and traveling - there isn't really a whole lot of time left to spend with the people you care about. So why spend time with people who are hateful or anything less than damn good mates? "Because sometimes you find that a friend has got you in a bind," says Krissie who has for years been trying to offload a former childhood friend. She says: "My mother says I’ve always attracted 'lame ducks'. I'm the one who always gets the nut sitting next to me on the bus. That's how it was with Millie. "We met in elementary school and she clung to me like a leech. When she attempted suicide, I couldn't just dump her, could I? She has real problems and I do sympathize. But this isn't a true friendship, is it?"

Chum Convenience
We often become friends through circumstances more than choice. The best example is the work colleague who becomes a pal because you share so much. Then one of you leaves the firm and you realize all you had in common were shared experiences and now they've gone, so has the basis for your friendship. A simple test to work out whether a friend is really a friend, or just someone you see out of duty. Does she always ring you? How do you feel when you hear her voice on the phone? If your heart sinks or you don't pick up when you see her number on ID caller, it's time to reassess. Think about what you don't like about her. Maybe one of you has changed, but the friendship hasn't. Friendship need to move on, as much as people do. You could also find yourself gradually facing the fact that this so-called friend of yours has actually spent the entire relationship subtly putting you down. Now, with a bit more confidence and self-assurance, you may well think it's time for you to say "enough".

Of course it's never easy to tell someone that you think they're using you, or just that you find them boring. So most of us just let the friendship tail off, we don't return calls, we make sure we're always busy. Eventually, she gets it. Few of us front-up about it, unless of course there's been a fight. Jenni loved putting Christine down whenever they were with other friends. So why did Christine put up with it so long when her other friends couldn't stand Jenni? Christine knows why Jenni behaves like that: she's insecure and nervous in crowds. So she gets drunk and goes over the top. But she can be really sweet and Christine is basically the only friend Jenni has. They say you're stuck with your family but you can choose your friends. Sometimes though, you can feel just as stuck with friends. I'd find it very hard to drop Jenni and, yes, Christine have tried confronting her over the way she belittles her - but all she does is cry, promise never to do it again and then does. What can Christine do?

Making The Break
Sometimes an open fight or frank discussion will change a friendship that isn't going well. But in many cases, as with Christine and Jenni, your friend feels attacked and just defends herself. If you have the kind of friend who just says, 'I'm perfect, leave me alone' then all the frank talk in the world can't change a thing. So the only thing might be to withdraw. It's worth trying to change it... but if you can't, do you really have the energy and time for a friendship that doesn't do it for you? Long-term friendships are what make life worth living. And the longer you know people, the more you've shared together, the greater the understanding. You even speak in a kind of shorthand that both of you understand. That's the kind of friendship worth having. Why have any other?

Why indeed. This is why it's common for women in their 20s to start weeding people out of their lives and sifting out is healthy. You may find yourself in a friendship that's no longer functional so you have to get out of it. It's unrealistic to think that all the friends we ever make can last forever, because they can't - nor should they. Friendships change because we change, leaving to let go is important. We all tend to have transitional people in our lives, people who're there for us at a specific time and help us move from one stage to another. But it’s usually mutual and beneficial for both parties to move on. It's unhealthy not to let people go. If you cling onto old friends, no matter what, you're probably a bit insecure. This is usually rooted in a fear of abandonment, which goes back to early childhood. If you think that's why you hang onto all friendships, even bad ones, it might help for you to work out why you fear losing people. Professional counseling can be a help, but for most women, all that's needed is a good, emotional stock-take. Just realizing what's going on may be enough to help you make the break.

Time To Let Go
Why hang onto all the flotsam and jetsam that attaches itself to you? There's nothing wrong with being selective. Listen to your feelings: if they're telling you that a friend has not only outlived her role in your life, but she's actively taking energy and emotion from you, it's time to let her go. However, it's much harder for some women to be assertive in personal relationships than in, say, a restaurant. He says letting things drift may be crueler than telling someone straight out. It's easier just to be unavailable but the problem is that you're not giving someone a clear message; wouldn't that be kinder? After all, if this so-called friend were a boyfriend, you'd soon get rid of him, wouldn't you? Sure, it's much harder with our girl friends because they've usually seen us through so many painful, experiences with and without men. Yet this is precisely why friendships are too important to throw away on someone who isn't worthy. We often make bad friendships at a time when we're not very sure of ourselves: new job, new man, starting at university. But once you become a bit more self-assured, and know what you want from life, there really is no need to hang onto someone who isn't really there for you/

And if telling a bloke who's been a real bastard to get lost can boost your confidence, there's nothing quite like saying a final goodbye to a cruel friend, as Christine discovered: "It's not as if I hadn't warned Jenni that I didn't like the way she kept putting me down. So I just said to her one night, enough is enough. I didn't want her around anymore. I felt guilty at first as she switched on the inevitable tears but then I was angry. I realized she was just manipulating me. Always had been. Once I stood back and saw this 'friendship' for what it really was, I no longer felt emotionally bound to her. It was such a relief. I feel ready for anything." And so can you, if you let that unworthy friend go. I'm telling Cass tonight...

How To Ditch A Bitch

» Tell her that you've been promoted so you will have very little time for any friends for the next six weeks/month/years.

» Say you're too preoccupied with your own problems to be a decent friend to anyone.

» Explain that you want a six-month break from her because your friendship is so intense, it's taking too much out of you.

» Confess that you don't think that you've been able to be a good friend to her and you want her to find someone else to befriend her.

» Tell her straight that you don't think the friendship is working out, but stress that it's no-one's fault. It's just one of those things.

» Gradually withdraw, don't answer her calls and don't initiate any contact. She'll assume that you've just drifted apart. If she's still too thick-skinned, change your number.

» Decline every invitation she extends to you, no matter how entertaining it is.

» Be honest and kind: say that you feel you've grown apart and that you could both find better friendships elsewhere.

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Dorothy L said...

Hello...my thoughts on your post are that everything and everyone has a time and a place.
There is a time for casual friends, serious friends, acquaintances, party friends and hug friends.

It is up to us as individuals to know the difference and put each of those friends in order of importance at the time.

WE are in control of what we allow others to poison our minds with:)

Take control of your decisions and use that control to balance out the people around you!

Have a goo day!

devianty said...

according to my good friend who is a friend who can be difficult (not only fun only), friends who can appreciate, a friend who gives us space for expression, a friend who does not bind with the regulations "friendship" the strange, a friend who can give inspiration, and a friend invite to the road is a good friend that must be selected

ChinkyGirLMeL said...

Well..there are toxic friends and friends definitely worth keeping. I have a best friend of 5 years. We've had our moments and all. And there was even a time when we both needed our time and space away from each other. We ran into each other at the mall and just basically looked the other way. Then one day, we're back to being the best of friends again. I guess, if it's meant to be, then it really is meant to be.

Lollii-Pii said...

I've encountered harsh individuals in my life fortunately, they were never my friends. However, I lost a good relationship with a friend for the reason that I and my other friend talked behind her back and trust me, I learned a lot from my mistakes. It's just that It's hard for me to correct her misdemeanors- I was shy back then. Anyways, through that simple argument, I found out who's true to me and who's not. Thanks for this post and the tips..^^

kirin said...

I think it's OK to change friends as we get aged, or as the situation changes. It is very likely happening among women who got baby and who didn't. Those who have kids like to talk about kids, while those who don't do not want to talk about kids and prefer topics about job, boyfriend, nice restaurants,etc. I consider this is very natural and people always change. So there's no need to try to get along with old friends whose wavelength is no longer tuned in to mine. That's how I think. So I'm actually making new friends, sometimes staying away from the old ones.

Lulu said...

i am here reading your post...

Dhemz said...

came here to visit...:)

Ailurophile said...

Agree with your post. I think being honest, kind and truthful are the most important parts. Well written post :)

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