I’ve been wondering a lot about friend breakups lately. Studies show that ending things with a friend is more guilt-ridden for women than is dumping a lover. But what if you have to? Then what? Is there ever a good way to end a friendship?
When I initially wrote about friend breakups, I mentioned that studies show women are more likely to “slink away”—just stop calling or returning calls—then to actually have a direct ending-the-friendship talk. There was much debate in the comments of that post about which was the “right way” to handle things. Because while slinking away might be the easier (or, copout) approach, it’s more hurtful and confusing for the gal on the receiving end.
But all this talk seems to apply only to old friends. What do you do when you realize that things with a potential BFF just aren’t going to work out? That while the initial signs said this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, closer examination reveals you’re not compatible? Of course, you could still be friends—not everyone has to be a best friend forever—but what if you don’t even want that? What if your schedule’s so full that you’d like to focus your time on friendships you want to nurture rather than waste precious evenings on people you don’t particularly like?
Being pretty deep into my search now, I’ve certainly met people with whom I didn’t immediately click. So far when that’s happened, it seems both parties have agreed. I may not have followed up, but neither did she. However, I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of the new friend slink away. I met one girl who was absolutely great. I really thought we hit it off. I followed up and eventually scheduled a second outing. It was more fun than the first! And then I followed up again. And again. And one final time. Three emails, no response. I can take a hint. In fact, I caught on after the second unreturned email, really, but at that point I figured I’d give it the old college try and round it out at three.
Since this was a new friendship, it would’ve been premature for this potential BFF to actually give me a breakup speech. I prefer her unresponsive method. I’m not really interested in hearing her say “I don’t think you’re friend material” or “I’m too busy for new friendships.” Perhaps she found this blog and decided she wanted nothing to do with its author. I really have no idea. And I’m ok with that. I’m not as offended as I probably should be. I have other potential BFFs who return my calls or—gasp!—even call me.
It’s times like these when I realize that though I may be looking for a different type of soul mate, what I’m doing here is dating. It’s tricky business. Sometimes you realize things just aren’t going to work out, and not because the other party did anything particularly wrong. Certain thorny issues are universal to all relationships: How serious must we be to warrant a Breakup Talk? At what point can I still pull off the slink away without seeming like a jerk? Theoretically, we’re only allowed one lover at a time. We can have as many friends as we want. So breaking up seems almost unnecessary, but when the eager beaver potential BFF emails three times, what do you do?
No, seriously, what do you do?