Recently, my social media outlets have been blowing up with memes about how “the best friends are the ones who have known you the longest.” Or, “your best friends are the ones from childhood." Blah, blah, blah.
While I can appreciate the sentiment and well-meaning nature of these statements superimposed over cheesy stock photos, I can’t help but cringe whenever I see one on Instagram.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with the concept of lifelong friendship; in an ideal world, our closest friends would be the ones from childhood, and we would just continue to expand our friendship pool. But, that isn't the case.
Sometimes you have to go through a breakup with a friend if you want to live up to your fullest potential. Despite how long you’ve known someone or what you’ve been through, there comes a point in your life when that person might be holding you back.
Whether you cut someone off cold turkey or gradually let someone fade into Facebook oblivion, here are several kinds of friendships you need to end, no matter how hard it is.
1. The king or queen of nostalgia
There are times when life is perfect and you probably wouldn’t change a thing, but unfortunately, this friend doesn’t want anything to change. He or she probably still exclusively hangs out with the same crew from high school, telling the same stories and going to the same spots weekend after weekend.
While this friend probably has good intentions, you don’t need to cut him or her off completely, but you do need to limit the amount of time you spend together. Unless, of course, you want to be 40 years old and still watching YouTube highlights of senior year football games.
2. The gossiper in your own crew
While this one might seem obvious, breaking up with this individual is easier said than done. You probably have friends in common; plus, he or she probably has some dirt on you, which you wouldn't want public.
This is one of those friendships you need to gently ease your way out of. Introduce him or her to a new friend or two who is just as crazy, and let nature take its course.
3. The friend who made different life choices
This is usually one of the hardest friendships to let go of. Let’s be honest: If your childhood friend gets married, has children and moves to the suburbs to sell Scentsy and be a soccer mom, while you stay single living in a loft with four other people, then you’re not going to have much in common anymore.
The same can be applied to any life choice. Odds are, one of you will resent the other, and the relationship will become strained and awkward. This is the kind of friendship that should be limited to the occasional Facebook like or a get-together once or twice a year.
If you’re the one doing the resenting, you should probably block that person’s updates from your news feeds.
4. The one-upper
You got promoted to supervisor; she got promoted to manager. You got a $500 bonus; hers was $750. A guy hit on you at a bar; a professional athlete hit on her at a bar. Get the point?
This friend will also exploit your weaknesses at the first hint of competition. I had a frenemy like this who used to loudly announce in line at the club that I was two years older than her (that was her only card she could really play against me).
You probably know by now that you want to slowly break up with this friend, but the truth is she gets off on the competition, so stop competing first. Tell her you had an absolutely dull week at work; no one talked to you; you definitely did not go to the gym four times that week, and you most certainly did not read any novels.
Odds are this person will naturally go find another wannabe Alpha to battle it out with.
5. The toxic friend
This one is the hardest to break up with because he or she is like a drug. When things are good for you, they’re really, really good. But, when they’re bad, it ends with you apologizing to your neighbors for the vomit in their hair (yeah, true story).
A year or so ago, I had a psychotic (girl)friend, and when her and I were alone, she was so cool. She was funny, smart, sarcastic and witty. But when she drank, she was absolutely, level-10, psychotic crazy.
Next thing I knew, people started telling me they wouldn’t come out with me when she was around because she was nuts. I almost lost a lot of good friends because of her. I could see there was good in her, but the crazy overshadowed it.
One night, she got so wasted she vomited on the people on the balcony below us and didn’t even apologize. I sent her a text telling her I would never speak to her again unless she promised not to drink or took responsibility for her actions, and she never responded to me.
She chose alcohol over me, and it made me see her for who she really was. I’m so glad I witnessed this before I lost the people who really cared for me.
6. The friend who broke up with you
Odds are he or she met someone, became romantically involved with said someone and that someone wanted you out of the picture. It hurts, but odds are this is just a temporary separation. Once your friend realizes how crazy his or her current significant other is, he or she will come running back to you.
There’s nothing you can do here except wait for nature to run its course.
The toxic friend isn’t the only one I’ve had to break up with. I had to cut one of the girls who was a bridesmaid in my wedding out of my life because I didn’t agree with some of her life decisions. I also moved out of state to escape a frenemy (okay, that wasn’t the only reason I moved, but still).
I had to gradually distance myself from friends from high school, lest I also settle for mediocrity. While they were content to marry guys from our Midwestern hell hole of a city and have a litter of kids, I knew there was something better in store for me. I don’t have any ill will towards them, but I needed to strike out on my own.
There are times when I see something funny I want to text one of my ex-friends about, and it hurts badly to not have that open line of communication anymore. I do miss each and every one of them every day, but I realize that if I remained tethered to them, I wouldn’t be a friend to myself.
And that’s a relationship with which there’s no breaking up.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It