Relationships come and go but friends should last forever, right?
“Friendships should enhance and enrich our lives, adding to the quality of our lives rather than taking away or reducing the quality of our lives.”
Romantic breakups aren’t the only kind that sting. Sometimes cutting ties with one of your good friends can be just as difficult. Once we develop a close friendship with someone, we may innocently assume this friendship will last forever, especially when that friendship is forged at such a young age.
Like me, you may do everything together; you go to school together, go to university together, do recreational activities together, attend events together, share mutual friends, and you are both intimately aware of each other’s family and know each other’s secrets.
However chances are, only a small number of friends you make along the way will become a lifelong relationship. Just like romantic relationships, friendships are always evolving to adapt to the different stages of life- maturity, careers, marriage, babies etc.
This is my story of why I decided to cut ties with my (once) good friend of 14 years and why it’s important to rid yourself from toxic friendships.
Why I chose to let go
I remember when I first met Kate. We were in the same grade in high school and shared common friends. My circle of friends would often spend time with her circle of friends and before I knew it, it was the beginning of a long friendship.
It wasn’t until the later high school years that we became really good friends. Maybe it was because we both were passionate about the same things or because we had so many classes together that we had the opportunity to develop and enhance our friendship.
In hindsight, it seems our friendship was based on length of time, rather than the bond we shared. I noticed that the little things we used to do for each other like talk for hours on the phone about everything and anything, attend each other’s family events and so on, slowly fizzled out. This was especially true during the last couple of years of our friendship. I was feeling like I was drifting further apart from Kate and we were losing common ground.
The break up
A number of events led me to make the decision to end the friendship, but ultimately, we had completely outgrown each other and had both changed. Kate was no longer the supportive friend I once knew. At every given opportunity she criticised the choices I made in life, when all I longed for was her advice and support. Although I raised it with her, she would laugh it off saying I misunderstood her intentions and that it was all friendly fire.
I knew then that enough was enough. I wasn’t going to continue interacting with someone who no longer respected me and who no longer enjoyed my company.
What’s the point? Life is too short.
And Just like that, it was over…14 years of friendship gone.
Ending an Era
Was it easy to end the friendship? Yes, it actually was.
Although it might have come as a shock to our mutual friends, this was something I was planning on doing for quite some time. I admit I am not proud of the way I ended our friendship. I let my anger take the best of me and decided that Kate wasn’t worth a phone call or to meet in person to disclose my intentions. No, instead I decided to write Kate an email outlining my intentions and why I chose to end the friendship.
Pretty silly hey?
This is where I slipped.
Instead of being an adult and telling this to Kate in person, I chose to let anger get the better of me and I was culpable of not valuing our friendship as well. Upon reflection, I at least owed Kate that.
Do I regret my decision to call it quits? For a period of time I started to doubt if I did the right thing, but once I took a step back and assessed the friendship I knew I had done the right thing. Once you start feeling you are no longer being valued or respected, then you owe it to yourself to re-evaluate your friendship and determine if it’s something you both can work through.
It’s been nearly 7 years since I severed ties with Kate. Sometimes our mutual friends ask me if I miss Kate and the answer is no. At the beginning I think I probably did, only because we shared so many things together and created fond memories. But now I don’t miss the friendship, as so much has happened since then. Time is our greatest ally, what we think we won’t be able to do or get over, time proves us otherwise.
We all have choices in life and my choice was to let go of Kate’s friendship and focus on my current healthy friendships I had with my other friends. The way I saw it was, why should I tolerate continuing a friendship if there is no respect there? Didn’t make sense to me.
I still see Kate at mutual friend’s events and while I acknowledge her presence, I don’t go out of my way to engage with her because that part of my life is over and I choose to look ahead. A slight nod and smile to acknowledge her presence is enough.
What I learnt from this experience
I guess the most obvious thing I learnt is that nothing lasts forever, even if you think it’s a sure thing – sometimes all good things come to an end. The most important thing I learned is not be ashamed when a friendship dissolves. You should never ‘put up’ with or make excuses for people who claim to be your friend and don’t respect and honour the friendship you both share.
“You don’t have to have certain people in your life, you choose to have certain people in your life. If you want the best life you can live, it’s important to protect who is welcomed and who has influence in it.”
Nevertheless it is important to remember that it’s a small world and we are all in some way connected, especially when you continue to share mutual friends with that person.
Just because a friendship ends doesn’t mean you should cut ties with your mutual friends who don’t want to get involved or who want to remain friends with that person despite the fallout. Spare a thought for them, they don’t want to have to pick sides and ultimately want their friends to resolve their differences.
We should never dictate or make others feel guilty for who they have chosen to include in their life- it is their decision, no one else’s. I am proud to say that I never told my friends to cut Kate out of their lives or to choose between the two of us. I’m happy that thought never crossed my mind and I hope it doesn’t cross your mind.
My only slight regret is that I wasn’t as respectful as what I could have been. If you’re in this position I was in, my advice is to resist the urge of approaching this with anger and hatred in your heart. Be civil, be polite, be courteous. Even if you feel they don’t deserve it, doesn’t matter.
Let this be a reflection of the amazing person you are and the way you approach difficult decisions.
While it can be disappointing or awkward when a friendship doesn’t work out, it’s far better to have a clean break than to continue on with something false. We owe it to ourselves to surround ourselves with people we like and respect and who like and respect us back.