The Drift: A Guide to Surviving a Friendship Breakup, by Lauren Foster, prompted me to look back at former friendships. Her tips for working through the process included: allowing oneself room to mourn, letting go, giving thanks, and finally, forming new friendships. It struck a chord with me, and I wondered if breaking up with friends was as difficult as breaking up with a significant other.
Social media allowed me to reconnect with many old friends, meet the man who became Hubby, and find new sets of like-minded people who shared my interests in Zumba, health and weight loss, Nursing and reading. I met my Zumba instructor friends in 2008, at the ZIN (Zumba Instructors Network) Convention, after “speaking” with them on an everyday basis through a networking message board. When we met in person for the first time, it felt like a reunion of long-time friends. We had a wonderful time together and remained connected, through Facebook, even though we are scattered throughout the country. Similarly, I remained connected with new Nursing school friends and old high school and college friends.
Facebook also brought new people into my life and several acquaintances became friends. Because I craved the one-on-one interaction of looking someone in the eye when speaking with them, I wanted to meet online friends in person. Logistically, that was impossible. Additionally, there was a layer of anonymity and artifice as we could create an online persona different from our own. There was a chance that we were getting a “sanitized for the internet” version of someone’s personality, but I think people’s true colors eventually surfaced the more we got to know each other.
Recently, a couple of my online friendships reached a logical end. One was easily dismissed, as she was not someone I felt comfortable confiding in. She was an oversensitive, passive/aggressive person whose feelings were easily hurt. Moreover, her definition of confidentiality and mine were incompatible. Communicating with her was simply tiresome and reminiscent of volatile, hormone-driven Middle School friendships. Peace. Out.
The other break up hurt. She and I bonded over mutual experiences and beliefs. Unfortunately, her image of me was influenced by others and she accused me of speaking ill of her behind her back. At the same time she was speaking ill of me. I freely admitted to speaking (er, gossiping…gulp) about her, but my “error” was calling her out for doing the same thing.
I developed my own thick skin, but that did not mean that I had not suffered at the hands of Regina George and her ostracizing band of Mean Girls. After reaching out to her a couple of times, it became abundantly clear that she no longer wanted my friendship. I took a relationship break, as it became obvious that I was a”fan friend” there to build her up, rather than a partner in the relationship. I said goodbye privately to the friendship, and mentally moved her to my “cordial acquaintances” list.
The pain of losing the connections was similar to breakups I had with men. The drama associated with them, however, was decidedly female. While I didn’t have physical relationships with my female friends, I was still sad to see them leave. Once these friendships ended I immediately felt lighter, as if a weight had been removed from my chest. As I realized I would not be speaking with these people everyday as I had grown accustomed to, I embraced a short grieving period.
Then, something astounding happened.
I found TIME. Time to speak with other online friends, time to spend cleaning up my house, time to read other books, time to watch television, time to work and most importantly, time to spend with my family! It was not only liberating, but empowering and humbling. As those doors closed, others opened. I just needed to allow them the space, take a deep breath and plunge back in.
Tell me about your experience breaking up with friends. Was it an ugly breakup or did you just drift away from each other? Did you ever reconnect with the old friends?
This entry was posted in Accountability, Change, Food for Thought, Friendship, LIfe and tagged breaking up with friends, celebrating friendship, change, Lauren Foster, moving forward, new friendships, old friendships.