Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Friendly Fire: How to break up with a friend and still stay friends (in four easy steps)

Friends are like diamonds
…or cubic zirconia.

Step 1: Know which kind of friend they are and which kind of friend you want them to be: season, reason, lifetime…or healthy.

1. Season (The Holiday Card Friend): Dear but low maintenance friends.

2. Reason (The Convenience Friend): These are the people we become friends with not because of common interests as much as common surroundings. This could also be a friendship by fire.

3. Lifetime (The Best Friend): This friend can be both the most comforting and the most overwhelming of all. Your relationship can be the toxic, co-dependent, enmeshed one that all others revolve around and the solace you run to from all the rest.

4. Healthy (The Whole Friend): You email occasionally. You talk on the phone sporadically. Maybe even get together every now and then. This could be your best friend or any number of good friends. These are people who are in your life because they enrich your life. You are consciously choosing to keep them in your life not out of obligation or a momentum of perpetuation, but out of a clear choice. You share common interests, beliefs and often the same or similar values. Your lifestyles are most likely compatible.

Step 2: Reality Check. Define what went wrong to create an impetus for change.

Perhaps you had a baby and your best friend was single and now your lives don't mesh as well. Maybe you were friends with a co-worker but changed jobs, and now it just seems like too much work to maintain a friendship that was built on shared surroundings rather than shared interests. Possibly you bonded through old wounds and now that one or both of you are healing, there isn't anything left to bond over.

Step 3: Share your observations and how you'd like to see the friendship evolve. If your friend responds to your sharing, simply gracefully accept their response, without refute or argument. Remember the intent is not to be "right" and prove a point, the intent is to change the status of the friendship. Give them the last word, if nothing else, as a parting gift.

"Dear Convenience Friend,

Now that we no longer work together I won't be seeing you as much. I would however like to keep you in my life. Therefore, I'd like to upgrade our friendship status to that of a holiday card friend (everything's an upgrade). Your President's Day card is in the mail."


Seasonal Friend"

Step 4: Move on. I recommend not communicating until the next holiday rolls around when it's appropriate to send a card. Be as sincere as you feel compelled to be. I sent a birthday card wishing that my friend receive all the joy, love and abundance that she deserves (and I meant it).

Word count 486

Originally published by June, 2007