Over the past few months I have been struggling with the knowledge of a long-term friendship coming to an end. Had the friendship been over for months or years, or were we stuck at a crossroads and had no clue we had lost interest in each other’s stories? Would it be in my best interest–as well as the best interest of the friend–if I simply let our relationship end quietly, without any fanfare? How does a true friendship actually reach a climax? And how do you end it? Pick up your phone and call to discuss it like mature adults? It feels unnatural to let the ending wander in silence.
When was our turning point? We were two people who shared painful life lessons, laughed out loud together, debated issues, overcame conflicts, ups, downs. We experienced the elusiveness of life together. Do people merely stop caring? When did the conception take root, and what caused it? Time, circumstances, outdatedness? Or did one person no longer need what that friend had to offer? Does such an ending care whether someone will get hurt?
I have grappled with this. And for a great while. It’s not an easy decision to arrive at. It’s something I’ve carried with me since childhood, but I’m the kind of girl who holds tightly to a friend and never want to let her go. Even when some of my friends have drifted away from me without a good-bye or a why, I maintain some level of contact. On occasion I will receive a message on my voicemail in which someone decided to return my call. Yet more often than not, friends on the edge of good-bye have a way of sending cryptic texts (e.g., “been so busy with work”). Eventually, I have honored their silence and drew the conclusion they were over me and didn’t think an awkward good-bye would really benefit either one of us.
Rarely has this been the case, but when I do choose to separate myself from someone, admittedly I don’t approach them with what I am feeling; instead, I do it in a gentle, loving kindhearted way. I know that we have lost something, and that this person is not a go-to for me anymore. Something stopped working. And the reasons are nuanced. But there comes a time when I am aware that I have grown past needing this person in my life, and their advice or feedback, or I simply do not choose to hear her opinion because I already know what she’s going to say. In ways not particularly obvious, we are growing at different speeds and in incompatible directions.
When I thought about how to approach this idea for this blog, I was reminded of romantic relationships I had with men that didn’t work out. Once it became apparent that we had reached a stalemate, and we sensed it was not working out, there was a conversation about it, albeit indirect. There might have been shouting over each other’s voices and slamming car doors. But we acknowledged that the relationship had reached its plateau.
It’s different with female friendships. Perhaps because it’s not the same type of expression of love, or potentially it was never a loving friendship to begin with. We lack the intense emotional investment. We haven’t had a physical connection; it was purely platonic and befitting for where we each were at the time the friendship took shape.
When I was younger and drifted from a friend, the why was apparent to me. When the friendship first blossomed we had commonalities, and our relationship blended between dual interests and similar life goals. But then I (or the other person) evolved, or failed to, and we drifted apart. We no longer needed each other. Yet friendships in youth are not the same as friendships in midlife. It would seem that since we are more mature, and our friendships don’t hinge on fleeting amusements, time would never test it. Mature friendships have a unique bond. History.
This decision–to end a friendship–saddens me. Still, I have become acutely aware that our conversations always come back to the same subjects. We rehash topics we’ve covered for years. And the bridge between those conversations is transparent. We have chosen paths that are no longer parallel. There’s a lack of interest; not making the time or putting in the effort. We have reached a place where we have now begun to take each other for granted. Actually, there’s a subtle indifference more so than an implicit I-no-longer-want-to-be-your-friend.
Undeniably, I desire the very best for this friend. And I will miss her. Deeply.