Breaking Up with a Gal-Pal: When it’s Time to Walk Away

friendship breakup

Whether you just met her a few weeks ago or have been pals for years, you’re at the end of your rope. The friendship is no longer a kinship. In fact, sometimes it’s sheer torture. Maybe she’s still hung-up on a long-ago breakup and still endlessly drones on about it, maybe whenever you try to share what’s going on in your world she interrupts with her own “similar experience”, maybe her “look what I just bought” obsession has gotten out of control… again.

Whatever the reason, this platonic friendship breakup will have many of the same ear marks of a romantic one.

When this dilemma rears its ugly head, it’s a potential mine field: loss of mutual friends, perhaps your very personal info exposed to other people, or just a huge scene with her that you have to grit your teeth through. Then there’s the guilt. Oh, Lord, the guilt. “OMG, how can I be so ungrateful, cruel, intolerant, just plain disloyal?” On an emotional level, you’re just plain mad, but your spiritual side may be saying, “Shouldn’t I be more loving/evolved/self-actualized than this? If the Dalai Lama hears about this, he’s going to be sooo embarrassed for me.” Look, it is what it is. Beating yourself up is not going to help the situation.

So, let’s break this down: just like in romantic situations, there are two brands of break-ups.

The recently formed gal-pal-ship is easier:

  • Just like a new dating/romantic situation, go places she would never go.
  • Explain the situation to your besties in the group. If they’re your “real” besties, they’ll respect your decision. Tell them that this is NOT a temporary break, but a final goodbye to her. Note: you may get someone who wants to try to “fix” the situation. Be firm. Explain to them that, if absolutely necessary that you all attend a meeting, wedding, dinner where the “avoidee” will be, you will sit as far away and stay as engaged with other people as possible.
  • Really desperate to get rid of a “stalker-type” who will just not leave you alone? Same/same as with a romantic situation: don’t answer phone calls, texts, emails… not even to “remind” her to go her own way.

The longtime relationship is similar to a romantic situation:

  • Be honest, but kind.
  • Be firm. Your decision for a friendship breakup has been coming for awhile.
  • Be flexible. Tell her that you two don’t have to avoid events you both need to attend. Just be “hello friends”.
  • Don’t make your friends choose between the two of you … only talk to friends you absolutely know will understand and/or feel the same way and not tell all to the whole world. These are uncertain, choppy waters. Don’t over-explain. State your reasons, listen to anyone else who has relevant input (the same issues you have with her?) and then agree to change the subject. Yep, hard to do, but best in the end.
  • You want to be aware that there may be an unexpected “teachable moment” lobbed over to your side of the net. She may tell you about some of your not-so-tolerable personality traits. And, horrors, she may tell you that some of the gals in your mutual posse feel the same way about those little idiosyncrasies.

Look, if the “debriefing” doesn’t go well, you have to realize that some of your friends may feel that you are being harsh, unreasonable or just plain mean. This is where you have to just power through. This is a good time to hit to find new groups to add to your calendar. New groups equal a larger circle of pals for some of your interests you’ve been putting off pursuing.

In short, while a friendship breakup usually doesn’t happen as often as a romantic one (unfortunately) happen, it can sometimes take some time and effort to get back in the groove. Be kind to yourself, girl. Breaking up is hard to do.


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