I don’t much care why these two are at each other’s throats (for those who do, Jen claims it’s because Evelyn is jealous of her friendship with Nene Leakes, an accusation Evelyn denies). Whatever the reason, clearly the friendship between them is over. But their ongoing beef indicates that they didn’t go about cutting the cord the right way. It made me wonder: What is the right way to end a friendship?
I wasn’t the only one thinking about this. In the Sunday New York Times, writer Alex Williams tackled the subject in “It’s Not You, It’s Me.”
“Even though research shows that it is natural, and perhaps inevitable, for people to prune the weeds from their social groups as they move through adulthood,” Williams wrote, “those who actually attempt to defriend in real life find that it often plays out like a divorce in miniature — a tangle of awkward exchanges, made-up excuses, hurt feelings and lingering ill will.”
I know that feeling well. Years ago, I ended a friendship with a close friend — or maybe she ended it with me. I can’t remember what our first argument was, but the last was over her ex, who, in my admittedly judgmental opinion, didn’t treat her well. I told her she was too good for him. She told me to mind my business (I should have). We had an argument on the sidewalk in Manhattan that was so bad we took separate cabs back to Brooklyn. (We’d always shared previously.)
We went a month without speaking, and when I finally called, she said it was no big deal. But things were never the same. I’d call to invite her to brunch or a party, and sure enough, she’d say she was busy — or worse, she’d just not answer or take forever to get back to me. After a while I got the hint, and when I finally realized what was up, I was less hurt and more annoyed that I’d wasted so much time trying to maintain our friendship when she was over it.
If the story in the Times is any indication, a lot of people end friendships and many go about it much like my ex-friend did: passive-aggressively. And even though it’s common (an expert in the Times story even suggested it was okay to “white lie,” claiming to be “too busy” or “traveling a lot” as a way of avoiding someone), the best way to end a friendship is to be direct. Just tell your onetime friend that you’ve had a change of heart. That way you spare her the confusion of wondering where you stand, and spare yourself the annoyance of monitoring calls and making up lies.
What do you think is the best way to end a friendship?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk