5 Lessons from Ending a FriendshipIn this world of change, nothing which comes stays, and nothing which goes is lost. ~Anne Sophie Swetchine
Starting at a new school on the other side of town at the already awkward age of 13, I was desperate for the kind of friendship I could lose myself in. I was completely uncomfortable in my own skin and wanted someone I could join forces with, someone that could take some of the focus off of me.
We met in the lunchroom–the worst possible place for a middle ‘schooler’ who has yet to make any friends. So you could say the friendship was sparked by a sort of quiet desperation.
She was surrounded by a group of girls whose connections spanned back to elementary school. I was sitting by myself, counting down the minutes until I could go home.
Our differences at the time made us click–she wanted to be the leader and I wanted nothing more than to follow.
While the people and situations around us shifted with each passing year, our relationship dynamic remained virtually the same. As I learned to speak a little louder and make my presence known, hers became more pronounced and harder not to notice.
I could never quite catch up to her high level of confidence.
As I grew into my early twenties, slowly losing touch with other childhood friends I thought I would have in my life forever, I realized something significant — I was reaching an age where I had expectations for my friends and the longevity of the friendship couldn’t make those obsolete.
We were still friends. I considered her family to be my own and I knew she would be at every one of my birthdays.
I started to notice that, not only did we have drastically different lifestyles, but we were making choices that directly contradicted one another and made it uncomfortable to be around each other.
There simply wasn’t enough shared history to cover up the turmoil and dysfunction in our relationship. And the water under the bridge was about to take out the entire bridge itself.
The line of communication between us was closed from that moment forward.
In the beginning, I found it almost impossible to calm the rage that was boiling in the pit of my stomach. I remember waking up in the middle of the night going over and over the sequence of events that had led us to this place.
Anytime other people brought up the situation, I could recite a laundry list of all the things I blamed her for.
I expected a lengthy apology within a matter of days. I never received one.
The last conversation we had was a year ago, and with each passing month, I become more and more open to the clarity that has followed.
These are the lessons I have learned and am still trying my hardest to navigate through.
1. Some Relationships Have an Expiration Date
In this situation I believed that since we had been friends for so long and had seen each other through so much, we were tied together forever. In some ways this belief caused me to go against the flow of what felt right and natural.
But friendships shouldn’t feel like a constant struggle to swim upstream. If they do feel that way, it may just be an indication that life is taking you in different directions better suited for each of you as individuals.
2. A Reflection of Your Inner Struggles
Since we had such drastically different personalities, there were traits I saw in my friend that would make me uncomfortable or upset. There were times I tried to point these out as things that were “wrong” with her.
In reality, they were things that I was struggling to make amends with within myself. Once I was able to recognize this, all the things I was angry about her “for not changing” became obsolete and I was able to reclaim the power that I had lost by blaming someone I had no control over.
3. Making Room for Positive Change
There is a time for confronting an issue head on. There is also a time when taking a step back and allowing the pieces to fall as they may is ideal and absolutely necessary.
If I would have remained in the thick of the drama and upset that was brewing around us, chances are I would have continued to react from a place of negativity and anger.
After removing myself from the situation, I was able to see the entire scope of our friendship and all of the subtle nudges and red flags that had been popping up for years.
This has also allowed me to be completely at peace with the outcome, something I would have fought against if I had chosen a different plan of action.
4. Recognizing the Clues
Growing up, I had witnessed several instances where others were deeply hurt by the actions of my friend. As we got older, the situations became more serious and the consequences of her actions became more severe and far-reaching.
While I noticed the repetition, I never thought that I would be on the receiving end of that hurt. I also believed that she would change.
Yet, she had been telling me–or showing me–who she was for years. For me this wasn’t a lesson in pointing fingers, it simply brought a new sense of understanding to the situation.
5. Not All Relationships Have to End in Anger
A year after the fact, I can say with some certainty that my friend and I will most likely not have some heartfelt reunion.
I haven’t come to that conclusion because I’m still angry or hurt over things that have happened in the past, but simply because I know we are both better off moving in different directions without the pull of what had become a toxic relationship.
I’m not at peace because I feel as if I was justified in ending the relationship. I’m at peace because I know that this was the next logical step in our growth as individuals.
I wish her nothing but happiness and in all honesty I know she wishes me the same — that is how I know we are both exactly where we need to be.
> How about you? Do you have similar stories with the ending of a friendship that no longer served you? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comment below. See you there!