Monday, October 8, 2012

How To Ditch A Friend In Three Easy Steps


Dear ESB,

There's this woman I've known for several years, who I've never been very close with but socialized with when we were living in the same city and now sort of keep in touch with via email. She was always much more proactive about our friendship from the very start, she wanting to hang out and me just going along with it. She's sweet, caring, funny, and smart; there's nothing really unpleasant about her. But I've always found her to be too sweet/bubbly/polite for my style, not that interesting, and a bit socially awkward. I'm probably those last 2 things myself, but the thing is, I've just never been that into her. In the grand scheme of friendships, hers is just not a high priority, especially in recent years. 

I moved thousands of miles away a couple years ago, I've been extremely busy, I have family all over who I'm close with, I have local friends who I want to become closer with, and just other friends in general who are more my kind of people, if y'all know what I mean. And yet she continues to send check-in types emails and voice mails (I never answer when it's her), and I always take a while to respond, even admitting recently how I'm bad with the phone (truth: I rarely call anyone besides family, and email/chat has been fine for everyone else). I suggested that we communicate online, which she cheerfully agreed to. Yet she still called again the following weekend (straight to vm again). I feel bad for ignoring her, but I'm also annoyed that she's not taking some pretty obvious hints.

Another thing that's bugged me for a while is how, over a year before my wedding (we had a long engagement), she asked when the wedding date was so that she and her bf could plan travel accordingly, mistakenly thinking it was that year, not the following. We hadn't made the guest list yet (she did hint that she knew this), but I naively told her the date anyway. When we finally did make the list, we realized our venue was too small for everyone we wanted to invite (lesson learned: hash out your guest list before doing anything else for wedding planning!), and I started to regret having given her the date and the expectation that she'd be invited. I know this is a run-of-the-mill guestlist woe, but what made it more frustrating is that she RSVP'd no because she had another event the weekend before our wedding. Huh? She knew the date over a year ago, and her conflict wasn't even the same weekend. It was weird. They did send a gift and congrats, and we sent a thank you. But the incident just made me feel even more that our friendship -- to me at least -- was more of an obligation than something truly heartfelt.

Given these odd interactions lately, I don't know what to do... if anything. Continue with my half-ass attempts at communication while she comes on a lot stronger? Confront her... and ask for what exactly? ("Let's be sort-of friends"? "Don't contact me again because you're not that interesting and you're not my kind of people"? I'd rather tell rape jokes if I'm gonna be that much of a dick.) Just completely ignore her? None of these feel right, and I know they're all somehow hurtful. But I also don't want to put in more effort for someone who is just not that important to me, to be totally frank. I honestly would not mind never talking to her again, but I feel bad that she sent us a wedding gift and continues to check up on me and hasn't done anything to warrant a "break up," so to say.

I just wanted to get some perspective from you sensible people. How do you deal with overeager friends? Is it ok to break off friendships for no good reason besides the fact that you were never into them as a friend to begin with? If so, how? Am I a horrible person for even having these thoughts?

- Possibly cunty not-really-friend

*****

Okay first of all, it sounds like maybe she's not that into you either. You should be THANKFUL that she gracefully bowed out of attending your wedding, since YOU DIDN'T WANT HER THERE ANYWAY.

Gah.



If you really want to ditch this woman: 1. Stop returning her calls. 2. Stop emailing her. 3. Stop feeling bad about it.

As I've said before, life's too short.

20 comments:

  1. Here's a question for you ESB.
    What if you've done steps 1-3 and they still keep contacting you? Do you owe them a formal friend break up if they aren't smart enough to figure it out after steps 1,2 and 3.

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    Replies
    1. I'd say you don't "owe" it but it will probably solve your flooded inboxes a lot faster!

      Delete
    2. I think it's time for a restraining order if they don't get it after those three steps! And if you are really practicing #3, then it doesn't matter because you don't feel bad about it anymore.

      Delete
  2. Agreed, life is too short. Free time is too precious to spend it on anyone but people who you really like and treat you well. I've been in a similar situation; had a once-close friend who just randomly dropped off communication and I was fine with it, if not relieved, because the friend was meh and we never really clicked.

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  3. Why do people always think it's more hurtful to cut things off than to play pretend friend who doesn't actually give a shit?

    You're wasting her time too! Set her free to find friends that appreciate her!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nobody who isn't sleeping with you or secretly wanting to sleep with you cares that much about hanging out with you. Unless this friend harbors a secret crush on you and is courting you in bizarro fashion, the overeagerness of this friend of yours really is probably just in your head. She probs irritates everyone with phone calls every week.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It might feel awkward, but you can honestly write, "I'm sorry, but my life is really busy these days, and I just can't keep up with you the way we used to. I don't really talk on the phone, except with family, and even emailing isn't something I'm going to be able to keep up with that much. I'm giving you a heads up, so the silence doesn't feel abrupt."

    It's the "It's not you, it's me" of friend breakups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! This is great advice, and far more gracious than ESB's. Since you don't actually bear your non friend any ill will, you don't need to abruptly stop all communication and leave her wondering and anxious (seems like bad kharma to me). You've put all this effort into pretending to be her friend, so it's worth putting a bit more effort into not hurting her on the way out. Time and distance will do the rest for you, and your conscience will be clean.

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    2. Yes. I like this. I never feel quite right about just ceasing communications with someone.

      Delete
  6. This is hard. ESB's advice seems logical, but a bit mean! Still, what is the use of pretending? I actually have a similar question, only in my case the friend is part of a larger social group of friends from uni (we've left uni since, and have dispersed all over the country, but we all keep in touch via chain fb messages and emails). This friend is a negative, difficult person - I find my energy is so drained when I meet up with her. But how do you "break up" with someone, whom your other friends are still friendly with? (we've all had our moments of feeling exhausted by Jess*, some of us to a greater extent than others). I feel horrible even thinking about not wanting to be friends anymore, but she makes me feel like crap, TBPH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stop hanging out with her and responding to emails/texts/calls. Don't say anything about it. Act friendly/normal toward her when you're in the group. If she confronts you about being unresponsive, tell her you love her but she's negative and draining so until she gets her act together you'll just see her when you see her.

      Delete
  7. Try being politely honest. Say that long-distance friendships are too hard and you'd be happy to be FB friends, but that's the best you can do right now.

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  8. Sounds like friend picked up on your not so subtle hints of non-friendship and declined your wedding invite, and yet you still weren't happy? Um ok.

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    Replies
    1. (OP here!) No no, she has continued to email/call a lot AFTER the declined wedding invite, it feels like even more than before. That's why I'm confused.

      Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and healthy doses of snark. I know I must seem terribly self-absorbed, and she does deserve better friends than me. But seriously, the suggestions about polite honesty are what resonate with me the most (much as I'm tempted to go with ESB's 3-step here) and I'll try to work myself up to it this week. And then end with ESB's step 3.

      Delete
  9. You should be relieved that this lady declined without having to ask her to. Who complains about awkward social situations working themselves out with little to no intervention on your part?! Also, ESB is right that she's probably not as eager to be your friend as you think she is... she just might have a different way of handling the sense of friendship obligations.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Seriously, WTF is the letter writer's problem? This woman didn't attend her wedding, which is what she wanted.

    Be an adult and tell this woman you don't want to be friends with her if you don't want to be. Stop turning a non-issue into OMG THE DRAMZZZZ

    ReplyDelete
  11. You can't "break up" with a not good/not bad friend, the same way you can with a person you are dating. Because they didn't do anything wrong, you don't really need to have one of those chats you have with formerly good friends where you say, "you hurt me because of blah blah, so now we're not friends, don't call me!"

    You should just ignore emails and calls. If she calls you out on it, thats when you say, "sorry, I'm really busy, I can't write back. Take care."

    And thats it. Only if she's like "whhhhy don't youuuu like meeeeeeee?" do you need to say anything else. At which point you say, "I don't dislike you, I just don't think we're that close anymore and I don't see a reason to stay in touch. Take care."

    The end. You aren't a bad person or anything, but you are wayyy overthinking it.

    ReplyDelete