It’s okay for friends to break up

You don’t owe anyone your friendship


The end of the year is rapidly approaching, and usually it is a time of reflection about the relationships in our life. For those who celebrate Christmas, this is possibly even more true given that we must carefully consider just who is worthy of a present – especially for those who don’t have a huge amount of disposable income (it really is an absolute pain). It’s a season where we start reflecting on what we want from the year ahead, where we start to feel slightly less exhausted by the year (than say at the start of November) and more excited about what’s to come.

That can involve making plans with other people are evaluating just what you want your life to look like in the future. This is why it’s a timely reminder that yes, it is okay to break off friendships. There have been endless articles recently about friends ghosting and cutting off contact. If this is something that is done repeatedly as a way to provoke a reaction – such as sulking – then that can be a form of toxic behaviour and emotional abuse. However, if it does permanently, and a person has removed themselves from your life, then that is their right. Friends can break up and sometimes it can be difficult to bring about change, and there may not even be a willingness too. If you’re the one considering ending a friendship then that is okay.

“If you’re the one considering ending a friendship then that is okay”

You’re not obligated to give anyone your time, emotional labour or friendship. That is your choice. Just as a person should never feel obligated to carry on a sexual or romantic relationship, there is no burden of debt in a platonic relationship either. Often there is a pressure to carry friendships on, either directly from the person, from how friendships are often viewed in society or because we’d feel guilty or more alone ending them. But if a relationship – any kind of relationship – is detrimental to your wellbeing then you are entitled to do what is right for you. Nobody is allowed to take that choice away from you.

Our culture though often talks about “best friends for life” or assumes that someone will always be there. Even when we row with people, we often can’t get total space as we can so easily stumble upon their updates on social media. Blocking, breaking up, moving on, whatever we call ending contact – can feel particularly difficult just by how much access people have to our lives now.

Getting a break – permanently, or until behaviour improves though – can be the best thing to do when a friendship is in decline. Looking after yourself is valid, there is no reason to feel obligated to maintain a friendship. If someone doesn’t want to be a good friend, or can’t approach the relationship with consideration, then that is their fault. Take care of yourself first. That is truly the best way to keep good and fulfilling friendships.

 

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