It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“A Recipe for Passively Ending a Friendship
3 months distanced Gchat
5 unanswered texts
2 poorly responded-to e-mails
1 awkward but not unpleasant dinner
1 postdinner drinking session, bowed out from because of “stomach feeling weird”
3 more months icy Gchat, culminating in …
1 Gchat block and/or Facebook unfriend.” (“The One-Page Magazine”; New York Times Magazine 1/22/2012)
I get that this is a joke. But it’s not, really. This recipe is, indeed, the formula plenty of people use to slowly slink away from a friendship.
According to research on friendship breakups, the “slink-away” is the most common escape plan. It’s a cop-out, and passive aggressive, but it relieves the difficult “it’s not you it’s me (but really it’s you)” conversation. Basically, women are more likely to slowly withdraw from a friend, without ever addressing the separation directly, than they are to deliver a big breakup speech.
I’m guessing that social media has made it much harder to pull off a successful slink away than it was back in the days of, you know, telephone calls. If this recipe were written in the 1990s, it would say “1 awkward but not unpleasant dinner + 1 postdinner drinking session, bowed out from because of ‘stomach feeling weird’ = one friend breakup.” But these days, your friends could have 10 different ways to contact you. Email, phone, Facebook, Gchat, Facetime, LinkedIn, FourSquare… The list goes on.
If you’re trying to slink away from a determined friend (again, not encouraging, just saying), she could track you down via any of those methods. It’s not enough to avoid phone calls anymore. You have to hide gchats, ignore emails, delete texts. You’ve got to be pretty determined yourself.
The good news, I guess, is that the increased difficulty of the slink-away has probably cut down on how much we use it. You might find it so hard to slink away from a friend that you end up sticking with the relationship through a down time, only to come out the other end in a better place. Or maybe it’s so frustrating that you finally decide to just tell said friend you’re breaking up. Which is, of course, the mature option, if not the easiest one.
What do you think of this recipe for a BFF breakup? Funny-haha, or funny-true? And do you think social media makes it harder to slink away from a friendship?