Friendships Can End with a Whimper
People come and go in your life. Let them.
There’s no use doing CPR on a dead friendship. Believe me, I’ve tried. Only to wind up worse off. A few months ago, I finally called time of death on a friendship I thought would survive into old age.
But people change. Our priorities shift. Or we find out we never mattered to each other as much as we thought we did.
One day, you realize you’re not compatible with your best drinking pals anymore. It’s time to let go.
What you used to have in common doesn’t matter. Memories can enrich a friendship, but they can’t sustain them on their own.
Don’t keep friendships on life support just because you feel bad about seeing them go. I’ve learned that it keeps us from moving forward. And if you’re not moving forward, you’re in trouble.
Some of the worst days of my life have happened because I tried to resuscitate a relationship with someone I knew from yesteryear. Once, I went hiking with two high school friends for old times.
We used to get along so well. But since college, we’d only met up once or twice a year. We thought we still liked each other.
A 2-hour drive for a 5-hour hike with people you barely know anymore. Fabulous idea. What could go wrong?
First, one of my friends insisted we all take turns reading magazine articles to each other for the entire trip.
“Can’t we just talk?”
“I’m actually trying to expand my mind,” she said.
She also got jealous when I started talking about the journal I was editing. When I described some of the stories we’d published, she pouted. “You know, I had those ideas in high school.”
“Why didn’t you write them down?”
She glared at me. “That wasn’t really the point I was trying to make, Jessica. But whatever. I’m happy for you.”
That was the last day we spent together, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. You’d think I would’ve learned to amputate rotten friendships. Still, I kept making the same mistake.
A few years later, another friend started going gangrenous around the time of my wedding. She got possessive as a boyfriend. One weekend, my phone erupted into a text storm about how I never went out anymore.
“You’re spending all your time with your fiance,” she wrote. “It’s unhealthy. Do you even drink anymore?”
As if she had to ask.
Vampires could get buzzed off me.
The conversation didn’t go so well. Even after she blocked my fiance on social media, we still tried to hangout. It just wasn’t the same anymore. She never spoke directly to my fiance except to berate him.
Finally, I realized. My friend didn’t want to give up shotgun to anyone, not even my partner. She demanded a kind of loyalty from everyone — that she always come first. Over the years, she fell out of compatibility with most of my other friends. We were settling down. Getting married. Starting to have kids, or at least think about it.
My friend couldn’t stand these changes. Maybe she didn’t know it, but she had to be the center of everyone’s world. She had to tell the best stories. She had to live the most exciting life. She would do anything for you, as long as you held up your end as best supporting actor.
And for most of my 20s, I was happy to do that. Being around her was exciting. You got a contact high off her energy.
She made you feel awesome by association.
It’s the kind of friendship you don’t give up easily. Still, we had to. We couldn’t keep up with her anymore, and she resented us for it.
It’s not like we had a breakup conversation. We’ve just stopped talking. No contracts. No lawyers. No mess.
Friendships can just fade out, without a climax.
She still leads a life that most people envy. Travels the world. Sleeps with whoever she wants. Stays out all night. Makes new friends with almost zero effort. Of the social butterflies, she’s the monarch. The rest of us simply can’t keep up with her anymore, and she resents us for it.
We all like the idea of the best friend forever. The BFF. The bestie. But forever doesn’t work well in reality. Nothing really lasts forever. Even stars die. In truth, forever just means a long ass time.