“There’s nothing left to try
There’s no place left to hide
There’s no greater power
Than the power of goodbye”
Lyrics by Madonna, And Rick Nowels.
Friendship can be one of the most rewarding and positive influences in our lives. Many studies have been conducted that show that friends improve not only our mental, but also our physical health. Friendship can be a boost to our professional as well as our romantic lives. Friends are supposed to lift us up, help us through troubled times, and be there to share in our accomplishments and joyous celebrations. Unfortunately for many of us, though, it takes wading through a lot of bad friendships before we can find someone to be our true BFF.
Even though it does hurt to discontinue a toxic friendship, it is critically important for not only your physical, but also your mental health that you realize when its time to cut ties with someone and move on.
Speaking to the New York Times, Dr. Harriet Lerner, a psychologist and author of a seminal series of books on relationships, including “The Dance of Connection”, (Harper Collins, 2001) emphasizes the need for healthy friendships: ”Friendship is often very painful. In a close, enduring friendship, jealousy, envy, anger and the entire range of difficult emotions will rear their heads. One has to decide whether the best thing is to consider it a phase in a long friendship or say this is bad for my health and I’m disbanding it.” Other experts also recommend abandoning ship when we realize we’ve tried everything to make a friendship work and still feel like we’ve been run over by a truck after spending time with someone.
The key is to disentangle yourself in a way that is healthy for you and helps you maintain your serenity and peace of mind, while at the same time, avoiding harm to the other person. Recognize that although you have differences, neither of you are “good” nor “bad,” “wrong,” nor “right.” Resist the urge to start a campaign of character assassination about the other person, or to demonize him or her. This will only end up making you look bad, and if you believe in karma, it will only end up hurting you in the long run as all of that negative energy comes back to you.
If you don’t feel emotionally ready to explain to the person directly why you are severing ties, and to make sure you approach the issue in a kind, gentle and non-aggressive way, the easier approach is the “slow fade”, and it is a perfectly acceptable choice to end a friendship this way. Often times if there is tension in the relationship, the other person will be glad to slowly dissolve and dismantle the friendship also, without too much emotional cost to either of you, or without hurting either of your reputations in your community. After all, even if you live in a bustling urban area, it is a small world, and if you burn bridges, be prepared to pay the consequences and face possible social backlash if you share friends in common. Better to always be above board in all of your social interactions and err on the side of kindness and compassion. Check your anger and your ego and give up the need to be “right.” Slowly step away and above all, remain polite, in the future, you will be glad you maintained your composure. The long-term payoff for acting like an upstanding person is much greater than the short-term reward of putting someone on blast that you feel has hurt or wronged you.