Friendships – Dysfunctional relationships #1 – Intro

A couple of weeks ago I unilaterally ended a friendship that existed (in various degrees) for over a decade. It wasn’t an easy decision and it lead to a very negative reaction of the person I was friends with — which I can totally understand.

After all, if someone considers you as a ‘best friend’ or even a ‘good friend’ and you suddenly end the friendship — that really is devastating. Friendship is a question of fit between two people, but ending a friendship tells the other person that you judge her unfit for a friendship with you. And doing this after being friends with her for over a decade and she was thinking that everything is fine … holla.

It shows that something was seriously wrong in the friendship — not only due to the fact that you unilaterally ended the friendship, but that you did not talk openly about it earlier. Not telling a (former) friend about it in advance, warning the person that something is wrong, but simply ending the decade old friendship from one day to the next — that is an asshole move.

Still, I did this three times so far — and I wonder why I did this to other people — people whom I had considered as friends.

My “surface” reasons did differ a little, but I think the underlying problem from my perspective was that I invested more in the friendship than I got out of it. This went on for years until a combination of critical incidents led me to end the friendships.

Do not keep on with a mockery of friendship after the substance is gone – but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.
William Hazlitt

A nice excuse but hardly the full picture and it begs the question: “Why didn’t I talk about it earlier?” Or: “Why did I wait until I though my only recourse was to end the friendship — abruptly, unilaterally, without warning?”

No matter how I turn it, the fact remains that I made the decision to end the friendship well in advance. I made the decision and accepted it before I confronted the other person with that decision.

That’s not only an asshole move, that also a pretty cowardly move.

The fact that she reacted hurt should be a clear indicator that she cherished the friendship and that I was a cowardly asshole who did not cherish the friendship — shouldn’t it?

I am not sure.

There is another explanation — people react very negatively not only when they lose a good friendship/relationship, but also when they lose access to resources. I do not think that this is the only reason in this case, but I think it is a reason. I think she considered me useful and practical, someone who was always there for her when she needed me, someone who righteously invested a lot to be friends with her.

But still, a decade of ‘friendship’ is a long time and it bothers me that this was the third time that I ended a friendship this way. That a friendship developed this way. I wonder how I could not have seen it earlier and why I kept the ‘friendship’ for so long.

I think the decision to end the ‘friendship’ was the right one. It was a dysfunctional friendship/relationship.

But I want to find out why.

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