The term “friendship break-up” has gained popularity in recent years. I often read articles and think what an ordeal to have somebody you cherished and shared so much with slowly morph into a stranger. How gruesome it must be to walk past a former friend on the street and not know how to greet them. I often count myself lucky at having a spectacular teaming mass of friends in my life and at never having to experience the rotting corpse of a dead friendship.
Except that’s not the case. I realised that when it comes to friends, I have dozens of exes – I just don’t see them in the same way. I honestly think there is a point where it just becomes impossible to be friends with somebody and the friendship ends. Sometimes a person moves away and it’s physically too difficult to keep in touch. Sometimes a person just makes so many changes to themselves or their life that you cannot find a way to communicate. Sometimes it’s a conflict of belief: there are certain things that just sit wrongly with me and I realise I’ve cut out a number of friends I disagreed with without even realising.
There was the friend who tried to enter the sex trade in an ignorant, uninformed way; the friend that voted Leave because she didn’t think it was fair that French gets taught in schools; the friend who didn’t come to our other friend’s funeral despite being personally invited by the parents; the friend who missed another’s wedding because there was a new Topshop collection out. None of these things make sense to me. I realise that I stop talking to these people and in all cases, completely forget about it until a mutual friend (for it’s rarely the ex that comes to ask) brings it up.
That is the kind of relationship end I know; an end that leaves barely even an absence. There’s no pining, no wondering what they’re up to, no confusing replay of our last conversations and trying to work out where it went wrong. In other words: no break-up. Just a fade to black. After a few months pass, there’s an occasional jolt when somebody says, “Hey, what happened to so and so?” and me thinking, “Oh, I haven’t seen them in a while”, before recalling some argument or reason or other, something that simply got left where it was and was never solved between us before it was dismissed from my mind.
Maybe it’s a coping mechanism, or maybe we just weren’t good enough friends for me to care. Either way, I rarely re-visit these things. There are just a handful of people I regularly think “I wish we’d not lost contact” before forgetting about them. I have a happy life, I have amazing friends currently in my life, and it would be stupid to go through and analyse all the people I no longer speak to. I am not a person who does well if I dwell too much on those kinds of things. I’m impatient and restless. I’d rather go meet a new friend for a drink than theorise on the thought process of an old one.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss problems when they arise, or that you should sack everyone off who doesn’t agree with you. It’s just important to recognise that this is a part of life. There’s a lot of tired sentences I could include about “growth” and “change” and “becoming different people” and so on, but what it comes down to is the tiny differences in beliefs, differences that can start a tiny crack and end up a huge rift. You can choose if you throw yourself in the chasm. Yes, some friendships do end in a dramatic break-up; but others will simply fade out and be forgotten and that’s fine too. Life is way too short to try to address everything you find problematic in a person; a certain amount of acceptance is required in every relationship but when one outweighs the other sometimes it’s just easier to let it drift.
Last week I talked to a friend about another friend neither of us speak to anymore. “I just want to understand” she said, “did we do something wrong? Did we have a misunderstanding? Did she find better friends?”. The truth is, I don’t know, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. We’re good people; it’s unlikely we did something bad. Maybe she hates us for some unknown reason, or maybe she decided we no longer align with her personal compass, or maybe (and I think this is the most likely option) like me, she is just going about her life and hasn’t really registered that we’re not in it anymore. It doesn’t need to be hostile, or questioned, or deeply sad, or an opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves. If you want it to be, or need it to be, then that’s fine but it doesn’t have to be like that.
Sometimes a person just starts to gradually fade from memory, from recognition. From your phonebook, or the photos on your wall, or your diary entries. There’s an infinite number of reasons why this might happen and so they get further and further away – you just go weeks without really thinking of somebody, and they do the same for you. You stay where you are, with your life and your work and your bedroom full of plants, and they blur and shrink into a tiny dot, disappearing into the distance. At some point they’ll hit the vanishing point on the horizon, the place where friendships end.
14 thoughts on “LEIA #12: Where Friendships End”
They come in different flavors, and have limited appeal, many friendships. Or, they just have different lifespans. But if you really want to hear the last word on it, just go to the “Nicomachean Ethics,” and read about it in Book 8. :)
I do have friendships like the ones you’ve mentioned that you just move on from and stop talking to but I do have friendships that makw you reflect on something because of the level of trauma you faced with the person and because you still have to see them and they still bother you or you hope that you don’t have to mentally relive the trauma in your head (i tend to find some really people and I have anxiety so that’s pretty weird to end up finding people that automatically trigger it). I’m pretty sure either next semester or after I graduate in May that I’ll be like you in the article but since everything is still fresh and we have major courses together it will take a minute.
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There’s nothing wrong with those ones (as I said, I think it’s necessary sometimes). I hope you’re alright and able to deal with things in your own time when you have the space too. X
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Learned the hard way that long term friendships, while satisfying and rewarding for all parties involved may be shattered where an invisible is crossed.
Matters not if you were aware–people sometimes just mentally snap.
Frightening to witness and tears a hole in the fabric of love developed and thought to be blossoming. Now like a lightening bolt shattered and gone as quickly as the receding thunder.
It’s been almost six years and my heart is wounded–perhaps eternally.
I’m learning to accept and in the end live.
This is right thank you
You’ve summarised very well how I feel about a lot of my high school friends. We just aren’t close any more.
I do love this as it’s revealing and leaves much to be unspoken, do you mind if I reblogged it?
Please don’t reblog my stuff! Link to it if you’re that enamoured but I’m not a fan of reblogging at all.
Alright thank you
That is a very good post, as usual, and it says a lot to me. I had some friends in Germany, when I studied there, but then I left and friendship was broken – well, I still have some friends there, but some had other kind of lives from a certain point on. Then a friend that started to shout at me in front of colleagues because I use to travel a lot and she couldn’t because “she had kids and if she didn’t have she would do the same as you, what do you know about life with kids!!!!!!!!!” So I realised she was angry at herself, for her choices and I decide to break the friendship up. And another that was nice, and I saw that she only thinks of clothes, shoes and cafes, so I decided to end friendship. The bad thing is that she didn’t stop chasing me, hacking my blog and other bad things. I still don’t know what to do to show her that our thoughts about life are not the same, so “leave me”. Anyway, I understand what you said – not to go to wedding because of a new collection being launched and also another not going to the funeral… that is really bad. All these points are relevant – having different paths in life, a busy life, whatever, but the fact is that every person enters our lives for a reason, be it 2 seconds or 5 years. We learn – and that is the main thing, I suppose :)
I realized long time ago that the quantity of time spent together does not ensure the quality of the friendship. Since I’m always the one who doesn’t want to let go, a lot of people moved on leaving me to wonder what happened/went wrong. Luckily I have done a looot of soul searching this summer and finally gathered some courage to faze out the people I don’t really like. As you said life is too short to dwell on the what happened question. I just hate it when I run into someone who is always too busy to meet with me and then they have the audacity to ask me “Hey how come you never call?”. Anyways, relationships work in mysterious ways, it’s never really a clean cut, people go and they come back, you just never know when or why. My advice is to just go with it.
I completely agree! I’m glad you’ve found the courage to make he changes you need. Xx
This was so beautifully written! I’ve had a lot of friendships in my life that I felt have faded away, not because of anything that happened, but because we simply grew apart. Sometimes I’ve been okay with it, but sometimes I tried to fight it, and that’s when the problems arose. I take a backseat approach with friends and I know that my best ones will make the effort to stay in contact with me no matter where we end up in life. Such a great read! :)
Melissa | melissa-manning.com
Thank you x