Breakups are never easy, but calling it quits on a friendship can honestly be even more difficult at times. It may seem dramatic to officially end a friendship, but any of us who have been hurt within long-term or meaningful friendships, understand that a platonic breakup can be a necessary option. Especially if said friendship is contributing to more toxicity in your life. It’s just that it can be a bit…complicated to say the least. What are the grounds for such a breakup and what’s just a normal bump in the road?
What’s the actual problem?
There should be a clear reason that can be articulated. This is an important consideration if you ultimately want to foster a discussion between you two, and are seeking an explanation from each other. This would help your resolve to end this friendship in a kind and clean break. Though you don’t always need a specific reason to opt-out. Keep in mind how you feel when engaging with this person. Red flags aren’t only reserved for romantic relationships. Explaining this reason will of course make the discussion more challenging, but can be eye-opening to their behaviour as a whole.
If you feel like you've done all you could in this friendship and that it would be best if there was a breakup, the next question is how to proceed.
Instead of ghosting the person or passively drifting apart, we advise keeping it face to face or through a phone/video call, especially if it's a breakup. We've all misread a text, haven't we? It's less likely to happen when people can see one another's faces or hear each other's voices. Breaking up in person demonstrates the gravity of the problem and your guts in taking the stand you have. Text messaging can be used as "the last resort" in cases where other forms of contact are either impractical or unfriendly.
Maintain neutral ground.
It's simple to get into the habit of having the breakup in your usual hangout, whether that's your place or theirs, but that's usually not the best course of action. Find a spot that is private and neutral for the two of you. The location also adds comfort and security and distance. Ascertain your sense of safety and your ability to exit if necessary. Certain parks and coffee shops can provide a reasonable amount of seclusion without feeling too cramped. You should pick a site for the two of you that is off the beaten path because you don't want to take the possibility of running into each other again after your split or be constantly reminded of it there.
Make sure you can clearly explain.
There’s no need for a blame game, instead, accept responsibility for being clear about how your needs are not being met in the relationship. Try to be diplomatic and concise. Don’t go about airing all of your complaints all at once for this is counterproductive and will just overwhelm them into an argument. We recommend keeping it to 1-2 main feelings you've had throughout the relationship and the circumstances around those feelings.
A popular strategy is to frame remarks using "I" rather than the accusatory "you" to be courteous and avoid provoking others. Instead of stating, "You always take from me, but you are never there for me when I need you," we suggest saying, "I need to have someone share equally in a friendship and to have as much time for me as I have for them." You can accept responsibility for your standards by using the pronoun "I" without putting all of the weight of criticism on top of the other person. This method of problem-solving promotes engagement that is more objective.
Consider what you can and should do on a personal level even after the friendship has ended. It's vital to mourn the death of a connection, even if it wasn't a good one. This is an opportunity for closure and growth. Have a post-mortem talk with a trusted friend or therapist. When you don't feel like you've said everything you wanted to, you can even write a letter or text message to the person (and not send it) to get out whatever remaining feelings you might have. If you want to fully let go, don't be scared to delete them from your social media network. There’s no need to continue harbouring negative feelings.
Remember Your Role in This
Yep, we have to be the voice of reason. Remember, a friendship is a dynamic that exists between two people ,and, as much as your friend may be in the wrong, this is an integral moment to examine what part you played in the relationship taking such a turn. Conflicts like this are a good time for you to engage in some deep personal reflection. “What am I doing to make it even possible for said friend to treat me in this way? Have I done anything nasty to them to deserve this ill-treatment? Does my friend deserve my kindness? Do I deserve theirs?” After taking a step back and seeing the whole picture you may come to the consensus that the end of this friendship can be attributed to the fact that you are both simply just growing apart, you’re incompatible, or you two have a lack of communication. A friend breakup does not require there to always be a bad guy, but rather two people who just deserve a better support system.