I had no idea that breaking up with a friend would be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my whole life. I write this not from a place of empowerment and closure, but more from a place of a broken heart and the fact that it’s really over – and it was my decision. And over the weeks since I made this decision, my thoughts and feelings about it all have changed multiple times – but I know I did the right thing – and perhaps pressing publish on this would not have felt right when that feeling has been relief and joy…
Arguments and fall outs with friends of the past suddenly appear ‘so easy’ in comparison. But actually coming to the realisation that someone is no longer meant to be in your life, as you are not in theirs, is a brutally tough moment in adulthood. And being honest about that, is way harder than I ever thought it could be.
I had made the decision (and tried) to end this friendship so many times over the years, but had never quite succeeded. In the moments I thought it had finally faded out naturally, I would receive an apology of sorts, an olive branch, but the olive branch was always more of a stick bearing no fruit…
In almost every one of the conversations that came after the ‘patch up’ dust had settled, I would be asked questions about my career, my finances, ‘the famous’ people I knew, and it dawned on me that perhaps this ‘friend’ was slightly more interested in not missing out. After all, she was initially an intern.
It was in fact my Mum that said to me, that we (myself and my fiance) need to realise that we seemingly come with a lot of perks – access to parties, events, concerts, backstage, etc, and that can come with a lot of jealousy too, and assumptions that we have an easy life. And Mummy always knows best. Because the truth is, if you are a close friend, our time together probably consists of dinner and drinks in a cute pub / restaurant, or feet up on a sofa with tea and biscuits, talking about anything other than work.
So over time, the efforts made to ‘fix things’ in this particular friendship would resume as normal. Just when I’d think it had got better, I’d be thrown some more back handed insults – and before I had time to address them, up would pop another life event where one would feel like they should have ‘some perspective’ – feel obliged to forgive and forget for the sake of turning a year older – but then I would suddenly and overwhelmingly remember how I was really feeling – and think, perhaps this isn’t the right thing to feel anymore.
And that there must be a better solution.
So why do we hang to friendships that are not good for us?
The childhood friendships – We hang to our childhood friends because there are SO MANY memories. For me I have so many good memories of growing up. I am Godmother to one of my childhood friends. We were neighbours, we went to infants, primary, secondary school and University together and have remained friends throughout. I see some of my childhood friends often, and it’s lovely to see them all with their beautiful families and reminisce from time to time and to have that connection to my childhood.
The University friendships – In the moment of writing this, it dawned on me that I haven’t stayed in touch with any of my Uni friends other than via Facebook. I think we all tried for a while, but our lives just took separate paths. They were some of the closest people in my life at the time – I couldn’t have made it through University when my Dad passed away without my entire Drama class letting my cry on them in the food hall at least once a week – and I will always think of them so fondly for that. But because of my Dad’s death, instead of moving in with my friends as planned, I stayed at home with / for my Mum and I think that had a huge impact on those friendships – unbeknown to myself at the time. The Uni friends who have all remained super close – were all housemates..
The sense of loyalty friendship – Similar to the feeling of a childhood friendship – a sense of history, sharing a past (often at a pivotal time in your life) can come with a sense of loyalty. But if all you talk about is the past – it’s probably a sign that it’s time to move forward separetly..
The work friendships – Now this is where, if you work for yourself this all goes out the window to some extent. The last time I worked in an office (that wasn’t for a magazine) was probably 10 years ago… So my work friends have included co-reporters, PRs, designers, photographers, make up artists, hair stylists and so forth. I am beyond close with some of the friends I made at the very beginning of my fashion career and I think that’s because there’s a very deep understanding of how busy we can all be at times, but we work to maintain those friendships, out of love, but also out of choice.
Because it’s easier than causing a fuss... We also hang on to friendships because it just seems the easier option. Being honest isn’t easy – with yourself or someone else. I don’t know many people who have come clean and actually said, ‘I think we need to call it quits. I think the contact, as infrequent as it may be, is actually just too much.’
But whatever the reason – for me it was about being really freaking brave, saying, ‘You’ve hurt me in the past. You hurt me in the present. And I think that’s a choice you make and will keep making, so I have to be adult enough to say goodbye.’ (Obviously it was way longer than that and way more awkward – but you get the idea…)
It genuinely was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Ending a relationship with someone I’m not romantically involved with, not related to, and just being plain and simple honest. But it was also in fact, one of the most sensible and caring things I’ve ever done too – I truly believe for both of us.