Breaking Up is Hard to Do…

February 18, 2013

behind you ! By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW 

Breaking up a romantic relationship can seem like torture, but breaking up a friendship can seem downright impossible!  When you’ve had a friend since preschool and realize that you no longer have anything in common or you simply don’t like her anymore, it may be time to end it.  Even when we know it’s over, we sometimes let these relationships linger… And linger… And linger on some more.  Why?  Because it may seem easier to just dodge your friend or put up with her than it is to have The Big Talk and end things for good.

What’s the difference between breaking up with a partner and breaking up with a friend?  For one thing, we (usually) only have one partner at a time; therefore, if you want to date other people, you’ve got to kick the ex to the curb in order to spend time with other people.  We can, however, have multiple friendships, so there is no pressure to truly end things with one friend in order to spend time with other friends.  But what does it do to us emotionally to have extra “friends” around who we really don’t want in our lives?

If you find your friend is zapping your energy, making you frustrated, or keeping you from reaching your goals, it may be time to end things.  This is easier said than done when there is a history there.  You finger-painted together!  Had sleepovers!  Were college roommates!  The list probably goes on and on.  But if you find that the great memories are vastly overshadowed by the annoying or angering words and actions of your friend, it’s probably not a healthy relationship anymore.

People grow and people change.  Sometimes we are the ones who grow and realize that the behaviours we used to put up with no longer fit into what we consider to be acceptable.  No matter the reason, if you decide to end a friendship that has become (or maybe has always been) toxic to your wellbeing, you are probably taking a step toward a happier life.

Sometimes telling a friend that you are no longer a friendship fit is awkward, emotional, or just plain rough.  Chances are by expressing yourself and the reasons why your friendship isn’t working, you are offering your friend a giant wake-up call.  If there are things in this person’s life that truly need fixing, you may just have offered a reason to fix it.  Every situation is different, so whether you need a break or a break-up, consider your reasons, be kind, and be firm.  Stand your ground.  Then maybe spend the evening in your pajamas with Ben and Jerry, and have a little mope.  After all, break ups, romantic or otherwise, are hard.  But just like the time you ended your relationship with the guy who treated you badly, you will probably realize it is for the best and feel a whole lot lighter and more free in a day or two.

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at the Integrative Health Institute.  Check her out at or drop her a line at

image via cloud_nine via Compfight

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2 Responses to “Breaking Up is Hard to Do…”

  1. David Yehuda Stern (DY) says:

    Hi Lauren, nice post. In many ways defining a friendship is quite difficult. Where as a title like “boyfriend”, “girlfriend”, “husband” or “wife” is quite clear the term “friend” has a much more liberal meaning. Even more so, many friendships are not formally ended but seem to fade gradually, over a period of time. I think it is for this reason that people tend not to have dramatic confrontations when breaking up with friends, though this is much more common when ending a romantic relationship. What I have experienced, and what I feel you make very clear in your post is that, when a friendship is no longer constructive, one should reflect on all the good times shared together and move on.

  2. Lauren Berger says:

    Hi David Yehuda,
    Thank you for your comment! You are right, many friendships end because people “drift” apart… some romantic relationships end this way, too! In a friendship, if one person feels the relationship is no longer healthy, and the other person disagrees or is unaware that there is a problem, that may be an indicator to initiate a “friendship break-up.” This is to be considered after trying to talk out the problem, as in a romantic relationship. Ultimately, the emotional health and wellbeing of both parties should be considered… sometimes it is healthier to end a relationship than to have it “drag on” for the sake of history, or another reason.

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