Friend breakups suck as much as regular ones. Here’s how to make them suck a little less.
Not all friendships last forever, and breaking one off can be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable — no matter how old you are.
To help you deal with that friendship that just isn't working anymore, BuzzFeed Life talked to Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of The Friendship Fix, and Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., licensed counselor and author of Toxic Friendships: Knowing the Rules and Dealing with the Friends Who Break Them. Here are their tips.
First, know how to identify a toxic friendship that might be more draining that it is rewarding.
There are a ton of different kinds of toxic friendships, but according to Bonior and Degges-White, here are some general signs that it's time to make a change:
— You feel drained after hanging out with them.
— You don't like how you act when you're around them.
— You need to psyche yourself up to hang out with them.
— The balance is way off. Either they don't reciprocate your effort or vice versa.
— They make you feel bad about yourself, pressure or guilt-trip you, or you guys fight a ton.
— You just don't like or respect them anymore.
Then decide which route is best: setting new boundaries for your friendship, phasing it out slowly, or formally ending it.
Every situation and relationship is unique, so there's no one right way to approach this. But here are some general guidelines from the experts:
— You should set new boundaries if your main hangup with your friendship is that it's too demanding, but you really want to make things work.
— You should let the friendship fade slowly if you two are growing apart and the lack of investment in your friendship feels mutual.
— You should formally end the friendship if you and your friend aren't on the same page and you suspect they don't see the end coming.
You'll probably have a gut feeling which one is the right (and mature) way to go about your specific situation, says Bonior. Go with that one.
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The boundaries you set can be specific or vague, depending on your needs.
If you need a specific need met, be specific, says Bonior. For example, if they text you constantly, an easy boundary to set is letting them know that you can't text them back during the workday because it's affecting your performance (or, you know, your boss is starting to get pissed).
But if you're just looking to take a step back from the friendship in general, then you might not be able to give them exact guidelines and that's OK. In that case, Bonior recommends saying something like, “I still want to be able to hang out, but I have to admit I just can't do it as much as I used to because my life is changing.”
And if your friend doesn't respect those boundaries, then you might need to reevaluate things again and try one of the other routes.
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