Breaking up with a friend
Like everyone, over the years I have lost touch with friends. There are some you click with more than others, some who move too far away and some who you don't have much to say to once you're not in the same office every day.
But how do you handle it when you just don't like someone any more? It's not that you've had an argument, but certain things they've done have made you realise you perhaps no longer want to make the effort.
Let me explain.
I've known said friend since school, but after sixth form we went in very different directions. Me to university, she straight to work. While I'm childless at 31, she had a daughter in her early twenties and brought her up as a single parent. We've probably kept in touch up until now more because of a sense of duty than because we actually had much in common.
It was because of her child that I kept making so much effort for so long, wanting to support her through a difficult time. I didn't let it bother me that I would send cards and presents for each birthday, while not getting a thank you note in acknowledgement or a text on my birthday in return. And I tried to understand when it was always me who made the effort to go to her house and didn't get upset when I was cancelled on again and again.
Birthdays and nights out I could handle, but when I had to chase and chase to find out if she could make our wedding, I started to get a bit fed up. Needless to say she didn't come nor mark the occasion with so much as a Facebook congratulations.
By this point the single mum excuse was wearing a bit thin. Not least because I knew plenty of other women managing to juggle a child, a job and a friendship.
Months of no contact followed our wedding but recently my friend got engaged and, after receiving no comments from me on social media, got in touch directly to tell me the news. It felt not so much that she wanted me to share in her happiness, but that she was after as much attention as possible.
At first I ignored. After all, she hadn't made any effort to help make sure my moment in the sun was super special. And although some lovely friends of mine did convince me to send a message of congratulations in return, that's as far as it's gone. It feels like my dollop of effort and goodwill has been taken advantage of for too long.
But why can't I cut ties entirely? Maybe I'm scared it will end up in an argument, and confrontation of any sort sends me in to a spin for days. Or perhaps it's because I like to be liked.
Or maybe I just want to give her one more chance.
She's one of my oldest friends and the noble thing would be to rise above it.
But should we treat friendships the same way we do relationships? If it's not making you happy, should you just move on? By pretending things are fine between us, am I sending out the message that it's fine to take me for granted?
And if I do decide to go through with the break-up actually making a clean getaway is hard. Do I call her and tell her I don't think we should be friends anymore? Or make the bold move of un-friending her on Facebook? Or just let our former closeness dissolve in to an abiss of 'long time, no speak?'
Ending a friendship because 'it's just not working' is a lot more complicated than it first looks.
So at the moment the stand off continues in a gloomy silence. A friendship on hold, so easily saved by a quick phone call.
I don't know if I'll get a wedding invite. If I do, I don't know if I'll accept or decline.
I do know though that I won't leave it unanswered and won't forget to send a card.
Maybe I'm not quite ready to let go completely.
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