Social Question

berry_lips's avatar

How to break up with a friend?

Asked by berry_lips (142 points ) July 26th, 2009

Just so there is no confusion, I am female (hint: my name “berry_lips”). I’m very social and have a lot of friends, men and women. And I think I’m a pretty good friend; at the very least, I know I try very hard to be one. Recently, I’ve been feeling weird and mean, but I haven’t really been able to verbalize it. I guess, I can try writing it. Here goes: I have a female friend. We’ll call her “Julie.” I met Julie two years ago at my old job. We both liked similar things and I was new at the office and was trying really hard to make friends. As it was, the soil was fertile for a friendship to blossom, and one did. It didn’t take me long to notice, however, that Julie was very negative and had a low self-esteem. Yet, I overlooked these flaws, because, despite these flaws, I enjoyed her company. In a way, I felt like I did her some good; like I was the little ray of sunshine piercing through her thick veil of negativity. Then I started noticing something else: Julie was the biggest flake I had ever met! Yet, I attributed her flakiness to her collossal family problems. Fast forward two years and many new friends… and a party at my place on a nice, hot Saturday afternoon. As I frequently did, I invited Julie. She promised to come and even called the morning of to ask if she could bring anything. When I couldn’t think of anything, she went as far as specifying what she would bring. A mutual friend, Mark, was to pick up Julie at her apartment for the party at my place at five o’clock. Mark arrived at six and was irked. He said he went to Julie’s place and rang the door bell multiple times but Julie never answered. He called her but she did not answer. Her car was in the parking lot. Julie had not call me to say she was not coming. However, given her flaky history, neither Mark nor I was too concerned about her. Sure enough, three weeks later Julie called me and left me a message: “Hi, it’s me! Just wondering what you’ve been up to. Call me.” I didn’t. And I haven’t. I’m pretty sick of her flakiness and, frankly, I no longer want to invest in our relationship. I guess I feel weird and mean because I feel guilty for ignoring her and for no loner inviting her to events, which I know she finds out about through our mutual friends that I do invite. Like the event on Wednesday. My friend, Kevin, said to me, “Hey, I didn’t know you didn’t invite Julie. I told her I was meeting you here and she said you didn’t say anything to her. She seemed bummed.” I guess I also feel weird about all this because I’ve never “broken up” with a female friend before. Or a friend – period. Well, at least I haven’t done so since the first grade. I’m very experienced breaking up with men, but this…this is different. I guess now I kind of see why men hate breaking up with women – the thought “what if she cries” even ran past my mind. Silly, huh? I sense an e-mail from her soon and I don’t know what to say. I think a formal break-up is too weird, but I also hate ignoring her, which is what I’m doing. She won’t go away either, so I’m not sure how to make this easy. Ugh! What I just said (or, rather, wrote) sounded very similar to a story my friend, Taylor, was telling me about a girl he met at club…the whole “she’s not making it easy…she won’t go away” deal. Okay, so I need to shut up now, because the whole point of this is for me to listen (or read) to what you have to say. So, please tell me…how should I tell my friend that “it’s over”? Thank you.

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18 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The whole standing you up for your party is pretty weird. Did you address that with her at the time, or did you just chalk it up to her peculiarities and let it slide? You can’t let something slide, and then still hold it against her.

If you know that she has social issues due to her upbringing, and have been accepting of them up to now, then you will probably need to ease her out of your life. But you do need to address your feelings with her about not answering the door or phone when Mark came to pick her up.

It would be pretty bitchy to just dump her because you have better friends now than you did when you needed her friendship.

sakura's avatar

From what you have described she helped you out when you were new to a place and became your friend.
I would explain to her that you are a bit unhappy with the whole party issue, and that your friend mark was a bit put out that he missed the start of your bash because he was waiting for her.

She may have other issues that you do not know about, being a ray of sunshine for someone isn’t easy and you will have your own down days too, is she there for you when this happens??

I agree with @PandoraBoxx it would be a bit mean to dump her just because you feel you now have better friends… That happened to me in high school – I was very good friends with someone since we started school together at 5, however when we readched 14 she decided I wasn’t cool enough for her anymore and got a mutual friend to basically tell me that she didn’t want me hanging round because I wasn’t suitable for their “in crowd” It cut me up pretty bad! Luckily I made some more good friends from that, but that’s is not the point!

Have a good long think about what exactly you want from your friendship and ask your friends what she expects, hopefully you will come to a mutual understanding and eitehr agree to part ways amicably or your friendship with grow stronger.

Good Luck, and don’t bury your head in the sand otherwise it will esculate into something much bigger than you want it too!

xzlslazcarter's avatar

i think you need give more space to each other, it’s quite sad if you lose a friend, but anyway it’s up to you, just do what you really want to and don’t be regret.

whitenoise's avatar

You just slip out the back, jack
Make a new plan, stan
You dont need to be coy, roy
Just listen to me

Hop on the bus, gus
You dont need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, lee
And get yourself free

whatthefluther's avatar

Whatever you ultimately decide, face it head on. Trying to spare feelings doesn’t often work and prolonging the inevitable just causes more pain for everybody. You really should have spoken up when she flaked on your party and Mark’s ride…all this could be behind you, or depending on how that discussion transpired, you may have found renewed empathy for Julie. You’ve muddied the water by not acting in a timely manner and just letting things slide. By letting things slide, you were basically telling Julie that this was acceptable behavior to you. But trying to tell her it wasn’t by not inviting her to the next function doesn’t work. She’s rightly confused and you’re scared. You have put yourself in a very bad position. Don’t try to send messages. Talk to her, be honest and be direct.

escapedone7's avatar

I know some people just stop calling and get “too busy to talk”, but some people are just right out there telling it like it is, why they’ve had it and that they don’t want to be friends anymore. Either tactic works. As one friend of mine told me, if he’s standing outside a door knocking and someone looks out the window and pulls the shade, he knows not to keep knocking. Someone doesn’t necessarily have to open the door and tell him he’s not wanted to get the message. He said just backing off , stopping the calls and emails, being “too busy” to talk, sends the subtle message most people need, but some people just don’t understand subtle hints and you have to be direct. As a personal preference, I prefer it when people are direct with me even though it hurts more in the moment, because it leaves me less confused.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It sounds like you want to continue friendships with people who are friends with Julie, and have no problem with her behavior, or make allowances for her. If this is true, then you may have to ease yourself out of friendships with more people than just Julie, because they may dump you for dumping her.

Since Julie is associated with your old job, easing away from the old crowd happens naturally over time, because you get caught up in your current day-to-day contacts. Former coworkers become just that over time, as there becomes less and less daily conversation that makes sense. Call her, but call her less often. Invite her occasionally, but only when plans include only other former coworkers. Remix who you know.

Once, I met a real interesting couple through long-time friends, as in we were friends with them for 15 years, and did everything with them, at first every weekend, and then even after kids, at least once a month. I decided to invite the new couple over for dinner without our long-time friends, just to get to know them better. There were no other guests. I cooked dinner at home. Nothing special. The wife of our long-time friends did not speak to me again for 12 years. It was awful. Nothing I could do or say repaired the situation. The couple that we invited over wouldn’t speak to us again because they were really friends with our long-time friends. (That was okay, they weren’t that interesting). It crushed me. The dynamics of family holidays was totally changed. There were whole groups of people we no longer saw because our friends weren’t speaking to us.

I’m only offering up that up as a caution that by dumping Julie, you could end up losing other friends as well, without meaning to.

chyna's avatar

You never know what she was going through at that particular moment in time. Maybe she was having some type of panic attack and just could not go out and face people, or perhaps she just didn’t feel like going out and blew you off. I would talk to her about it and if you think she just doesn’t respect your friendship enough to get in touch with you when you’ve made plans, just move on.

Jeruba's avatar

Is there any chance that Julie is (a) alcoholic, (b) a drug user, or (c) caught in some kind of abusive relationship?

Link's avatar

It’s tough to lose a friend, but it’s part of life. You’re supposed to lose the “friends” that leave you hanging, or stand you up, and keep the friends that always have your back.

Resonantscythe's avatar

One thing you didn’t mention: how often, if at all, have you confronted julie about her flakiness?

cyndyh's avatar

“Your flakiness is getting to be too much for me. When you (flaked out this way), it effected me by (this way). Mark waited for you and rang your bell, etc. And when you (flaked out this other way), it caused me to (have this other issue). I can’t count on you and I’m not willing to make plans that count on you being there anymore.”

Having said that I really think you should still invite her to things but don’t expect her to be anywhere and don’t wait for her. But that’s only fair if you tell her you aren’t going to wait for her.

You don’t want to cause drama among your mutual friends, do you? Remain friends as much as you can but don’t rely on her.

cwilbur's avatar

If you don’t enjoy her company, explain that you’re tired of her flakiness. She ignored Mark when he went to pick her up, and she didn’t bother to return his call or call you to tell you she would not be coming, and then three weeks later she calls to see what’s up? It sounds to me like you’re entirely justified in being annoyed at being blown off.

If you do enjoy her company, keep on inviting her to things—but don’t make any kind of plans that rely on her participation. If she shows, she shows, and if she doesn’t, well, you invited her, and it’s her loss for not coming along.

Darwin's avatar

I’m with @cyndyh and @cwilbur : Tell her that her flakiness bothered you with the specific instances in that it inconvenienced you as well as Mark, but keep inviting her to things. Just don’t ask anyone to pick her up or count on her contribution. If she shows up on her own, great. If she brings what she said she would, great. If she doesn’t get there or forgets to bring whatever, don’t worry about it.

She sounds a lot like my brother, who means well but has a very different sense of time.

gymnastchick729's avatar

That big paragraph of question is intimidating, itself.

shortysith's avatar

It’s hard to tread that line of what to cut a friendship loose. It all depends on what you feel in general about your friendship with her. Do you feel better than worse when you talk to her? Or does your friendship make you feel bad most of the time? The only times I have cut people out of my life is when they bring me down more than they make me feel good. We can’t always get along with our friends or family, but in general, if they make you happy more than sad, I give them the benefit of the doubt if things are rough. In the end, if they make you miserable more than happy and you let go, you will feel better in the long run. It’s healthy to let go of unhealthy relationships sometimes even if it’s hard.

ShanEnri's avatar

Just tell her the truth! If she really was a good friend she deserves that much!

Inspired_2write's avatar

First find out If she was OK that day..maybe some emergency or dealing with anxiety occurred?
If Ok then tell her how you felt. Give her the benefit of the doubt and set guidelines such as next time that happens Please notify me, I will understand etc
One does not abandon one after one error of judgement.
You abandonded her possibly in her time of need? Find out for sure though, unless she was teaching you a lesson for some past descretion?
If you value her friendship then take the time to sort out your relationship.

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