Have you ever had to break up with a friend, toxic or otherwise?
My lamest friend breakup ever: one time, I had a friend who would call me every evening to tell me about her day. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t care *that much* about her day, but she kept doing it for months on end. So I finally cancelled my phone and told her that I had forgotten to pay my bill.
The New York Times had a great run down of ways to break up with a friend:
The Bad Boyfriend Approach
She decided it was time to let her friend go. So Ms. Brunner took the “bad-boyfriend approach” and just stopped calling. After the friend made a few spurned overtures — and after some awkward conversations about why Ms. Brunner was always too busy to get together — the friend got the hint. Years later, however, the breakup still feels unresolved.
“I wish I would have handled it differently,” Ms. Brunner said. “I think you owe it to that person, rather than keeping them guessing.”
The Passive Approach
The passive approach can work, sort of. Marni Zarr, 46, a substitute teacher in Mesa, Ariz., employed it when she decided that a friend she had picked up in parents’ circles was starting to drag her down with her neediness and constant competitiveness. Ms. Zarr gave less of herself in conversations, stopped talking about her feelings, became vaguer about future aspirations.
I took the route of distancing myself: not immediately answering texts,” she recalled. “I answered the important things, but not the ‘Hey, how are you doing, what’s up tonight?’ ones.”
The Direct Approach
By the time she was in her mid-30s, Carolyn Miller, an office manager in Norwalk, Conn., found herself unwilling to put up with an old friend’s domineering ways, so eventually she sent her an e-mail listing her grievances and asking for space. The friend called her and begged her to reconsider. Ms. Miller stood her ground.
The Direct Approach is definitely the most mature, but the Passive Approach can be useful too if you aren’t super close to your friend. The problem with the Passive Approach is that it puts a real burden on any mutual friends: your former friend is almost certain to ask them what’s going on.
Have you ever had to break up with a friend? How did you do it?