What happens when the girl you’ve confided in, laughed with, and shared a lot of memories becomes a distant memory herself? I’m sure we’ve all experienced a breakup, but friendship breakups seem to hit different than those we have with our significant others. At least when we break up with our partners, we can rely on our friends. And while breaking up with our besties may be hard to do, sometimes it’s necessary to let people go. I’ll be honest, this piece is coming almost a year after breaking up with one of my closest homegirls. I’ll be even more honest, “breaking up” with her was one of the easier things I did last year. There was no drama, no theatrics—just a quiet, but solid, decision to cease the connection. It may sound harsh, but here are a few things I considered before making the decision to discontinue the relationship.
Assess the friendship.
Don’t get me wrong, friendships are very important. Friends hold us down until we’re up, steer us straight when we’re off, and help us become better people. It’s hella important to secure and maintain quality friendships, but we’ve first got to be honest about the function and quality of the relationship. When’s the last time you assessed it? Things change, people change. When’s the last time you sat down and really looked at what the relationship is giving? Are you actually friends or do you all just gossip together? Is there a mutual exchange in the relationship or do they only call you when they need you? Does the length of the relationship compare to the depth of it? Yes, you’ve been best friends for 15 years, but is the connection 15 years deep? I get it. We have different friends for different things, but I still think it’s important to look at how we’re actually relating to the people we’re calling a friend. These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself (or your friend) about the nature and health of your relationship.
Stop keeping people around just because they’ve been around.
People are not furniture, keepsakes, or souvenirs. The people you have in your life should be there to serve a certain purpose that ultimately leads to your growth. When you realize that your friendships are not benefitting you in any way, it may be time to call it quits (or reassess). Sometimes we keep people around without knowing why they’re there. If your bestie has been your friend for a while, but the relationship is lagging or just on autopilot, then you’ve really got to be honest as to why you’re allowing them to take up space in your life. As we grow, so should those around us. If they don’t grow with us, then eventually we outgrow them. Just because you’ve journeyed this far together doesn’t mean they’re meant to go the full way.
A title doesn’t mean anything.
We’ve got a habit of labeling every seemingly close relationship as a friendship and that just isn’t true. Maybe you’ve realized that your “bestie” is actually your gossip girl. Maybe you all are only close because you work together. In that case, you aren’t friends — you’re colleagues. If you only go out for dinner and drinks but don’t share any other close-knit bonds, you may just be social acquaintances.
It wasn’t solid from the beginning.
When you honestly assess it, most times you’ll see there were indicators from the past that should have let you know what type of person your friend was. And it should’ve shown you what type of person they’d be to you. Some of the relationships we fight so hard for don’t have solid foundations to work with from the beginning. We build houses on sand, then wonder why they collapse in time. If what you’ve built eventually crumbles, it’s O.K. Cut your losses and move in a healthier direction.
You can honor what you’ve had without wanting it back.
People are not all good or all bad. You may have shared some good times and intimate moments. It’s O.K. to honor that without wanting the relationship back. Your old friends don’t have to exist in your memory as the villain in your life’s story. There were good moments filled with lots of love and laughs. Unfortunately, when considering the relationship as a whole, it just doesn’t work out. And that is O.K.
When it comes to breaking up with your friends, there is definitely a lot to consider. Before making any rash decisions, be sure to follow the advice above. Examine the relationship (don’t be afraid to do so with that friend) and see if it’s the kind of friendship you want. If it’s not, let it go. You’ll be better for it.