School of Thought
We used to be inseparable, but over the last few years we’ve gone in different directions. She’s not done anything wrong but I find her grating on me when I do see her. She’s changed and maybe I have too. I think it’s time for us to go our separate ways –
Why does the idea of a definitive ‘ break-up’ seem so appealing? Our friendships change and evolve over the course of our lives, depending on a whole host of things. Romantic relationships, having children, changing location, our jobs, etc, can all affect how much – and in what capacity – we see our friends. In times of extremis we might find that the most consistent support comes from a new friend, rather than the close one we have known since school, because they were dealing with drama of their own. What I am saying is: these things are fluid.
As you say yourself, you were once inseparable from this person but, although you see each other rarely, you still do see each other. You don’t say what has happened in both of your lives over the last few years but I’m going to glean from ‘different directions’ that life looks quite different for one of you compared to the other – perhaps that involves a new partner, a baby, or group of friends. Whatever it is, maybe it doesn’t chime with who you both were at the time of being inseparable.
The essence of who you were likely remains the same, but the footprints of our lives inevitably change over time, don’t they? Our desires, needs and references shift. The question is whether you have enough common ground, or affection, to still get something from seeing each other. Why, if she has ‘done nothing wrong’, does she grate on you? Think about it. It is OK for friendships to change shape and serve different purposes. When we’re at school, the friendships we have are often deeply intense and tribal – reflective of the stage of development we’re at. Plenty of people do not keep these friendships going into adulthood but, for those that do, the bonds are inevitably going to change as we get older. As long as everyone is on the same page, this is a navigable fact of life.
Maybe you and your friend are not on the same page because that fierce friendship was what you both needed back then. Now, your needs are met by other things – and people. If severing contact really is what you want, I wonder how you imagine explaining that to her. Or, whether you need to. It will likely cause you both anxiety. Can’t you just leave things open to take their course? It sounds like you’ve gone from being very close besties, to you ‘checking out’ of the friendship. This does happen, as we change and evolve and move in different directions. You’ve also described a warning sign – that of her grating on you the few times you’ve met up recently. However, as nothing specific has happened, just a gradual growing and going in different directions, there are steps you can take. I think the key is to put distance between you, which judging by the infrequency you see her as it is, has already started to happen. Mirror this process on social media in order to keep the message constant. No looking her up to see what she’s up to, or liking and commenting on her photos. Just like a break-up with a lover, don’t call, text or email, or agree to meet up when she contacts you simply out of politeness or habit. This just sends mixed messages. Be prepared for her to ask for an explanation. Be kind but honest. Don’t blame, but talk about how you feel now. Thank her for her friendship and wish her well.