02 October 2011

The Other Breakup

They say that if you change one thing, you change everything. If only. But, sometimes, when your life goes through a major upheaval -- or even a graceful shift -- you notice that friendships break, or simply fade away.

Friendships are relationships. I know. I like to state the obvious sometimes. But I think it's easy to forget that. We don't always have the clear ups-and-downs in friendships that we do in romantic relationships. Could you imagine talking to your BFF like you do your BF? Exactly. Friendships are typically a little different in tone, a little more slack is given, fewer arguments occur, and the endings are sometimes very quiet. That, however, doesn't make it any less confusing, frustrating or painful.

I mean, do you really bother with the "it's over" breakup conversation with a friend? Probably not. And, if you do/have done it, bravo to you! You are an official grownup. But, often times, friends don't want to hear what you might find problematic in your relationship. There are talk-to-the-hand gestures or tears or "Oh, yeah. What about you?" comebacks. I've been surprised that, when bringing up a questionable act with a good friend, I got all of the above before the simple matter was resolved. Perhaps it was the margaritas. I'm not sure.

I suppose that's not much different than fighting with your S.O. But, somehow, it seems a little more challenging confronting a friend than saying (with hands on hips), "Honey, seriously, seat and lid down."

Friendship issues can arise when a breakup occurs, or a new love enters your (or your friend's) life. When there's a new job, or the loss of an old one. Gain weight, lose weight, anything that shakes the norm. Sometimes, it's just a blip. Others, it's the end of a longtime friendship that, somehow, was able to survive bigger deals, but collapsed under the weight of something seemingly banal.

What to do?

Well, if you can have a conversation about it, please do. It's not always easy. You might be ready to talk but they aren't, or vice versa. Don't force it if it isn't going to happen, but do give it a shot. Avoid the texts and emails that are too easily taken the wrong way or out of context. No passive-aggressive Facebook updates or thinly-veiled tweets. We are grownups, after all. Set a face-to-face and be prepared to listen as much as you want to talk.

If there's not a shot at reconciliation, be gracious. You don't want mutual friends to have to choose sides (even if, deep down, you do). Keep your upset and judgments to a minimum. After all, you never know when the ice will thaw and the friendship will blossom again. That's easier to have happen if you keep yourself open.

Some friendships, though, simply aren't healthy. They hurt and hold you back. Those you should simply bid a fond farewell to, or at least keep in perspective. No matter how long you've been friends with that person, if they aren't helping you grow and move forward -- preferring to hinder and harangue -- end it. You know the kind: they insult you with a smile, accuse you of being overly sensitive and point out your every flaw. Not that we don't need people in our lives to give us reality checks from time to time, but, really, we don't need a constant critic, either.

There's another old saying: Friends come to you for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I think that's true. Friendships should always be appreciated for what they are as well as the gifts or lessons they bring with them.

Much like any relationship.

No comments: