How to end a friendship well

How to end a friendship well

It feels like everyone is always talking about the latest break-up. But nobody seems to brief us on how to split from a friend! Friendships end for many reasons. It’s much easier when distance is labelled as ‘drifting’ due-to a change in jobs or big house move. It's much harder however, to have a heartbreaking bust-up and regrets after years of investment. However, sometimes a clean break is needed — if things get toxic, unsafe, or unhealthy. Here’s some inspo for your plan of action... 

 
Meet face to face
 
Does the relationship need a clear conclusion and closure for everyone involved? If seeing a friend’s reaction and hearing their views is important to you, then meeting face to face is probably best. Without a meeting, both parties may end up with a slow and painful, back-and-forth WhatsApp war — never helpful. Making a note or sending a quick message ahead of time, with what you’d like to chat about (a friendly agenda) can help you to stay focused and make sure you cover all that you wanted to say. Make sure to choose a public place and to try and listen as much as you speak. Chances are, both of you are hurting and hoping to share your thoughts and feelings. Thank your friend for all they have blessed you with and carefully explain why the friendship is ending. Apologise for the ways they’ve been hurt. If things work out, a new type of relationship may be rekindled, with new boundaries and clear expectations agreed upon as you both share.  

Write a letter 

This is best if the relationship is ending due-to emotionally dependent, negative, or toxic dynamics. It can be really hard to respect and honour someone we love, if the conversation always ends in shouting, tears, or someone walking out. Jen Douglas, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Stanford explains: "If you have felt invalidated by the person but know that you will regret not expressing yourself, writing a letter can help to assertively communicate why the friendship isn't working for you." On the flip side, it may be that we need to apologise for being the person who has dominated conversations and been the driving force for negativity. Regardless, a letter gives the time to create a measured and accurate response — any impulsive or unhelpful outbursts can be amended with a second draft! If a friendship has been creating a dark cloud in either party’s lives, and contact would only distract from a resolution, a letter is a brilliant place to share all that’s on your heart.   
 
Ghost them  

This is our least favourite option but may be necessary in certain situations, preceded by a quick DM and block. If the relationship has become abusive or your safety is threatened, this is a no-brainer. Share what has happened with those you trust and assess whether any other action should be taken. It could also be that you haven’t been able to find common ground on something that is fundamentally important to you: your boundaries, your faith, your values, your worth. Reflecting on friendship break-ups over the last two years, Jen adds: "Issues such as social injustice, racism, and police brutality intersect with many individuals' personal experience and deeply held values.” These sorts of topics can cause division and, if people are unwilling to listen, the fight may become more exhausting than beneficial. It’s important to remember that it’s not our job to control others or convince them of the truth. We can share our views but ultimately, we have to pray that God will change the hearts of others and ourselves.   

 
Grieving  

Ending a friendship can be just as hard, if not harder, than ending a romantic relationship. It’s so important to expect and allow for a grieving process. Clinical psychologist Dr.Tasha Brown suggests writing down your reasons for the break-up, mapping the positives vs the negatives: "Having your pros and cons list and being able to confidently say why you ended the friendship is crucial here. In moments of sadness, you're able to remember why you made the decision," she says. The truth is, we are designed to be in great relationships and so when those are broken, our soul knows something is deeply wrong. However, there are also so many friendships that are beneficial for a time. Focus on your purpose right now and seek out relationships that reflect God’s design for community!  

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