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Should you break up with your friend?

Blog · Your Relationships


friendbreakup

I just got back from an amazing, long weekend in Minneapolis with my best friends from growing up.  It was a deeply restorative weekend full of long meals, good talks and lots of girl time.  Exactly what I needed.

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When I was sitting around the dinner table with them on Sunday night eating a gorgeous Ayurvedic meal cooked by Kelsey of Whole Bowls I was overcome with how grateful that after all these years, we are still great friends.

When I was telling another friend of mine about the weekend, she said, “It’s amazing you’re still so close with your old friends, I’ve lost touch with mine, they just don’t get me anymore.”

I’ve been hearing different variations of this complaint from my friends and Live More Weigh Less Mastery Ladies lately…

“That friendship was no longer serving me.”

“All of my old friends have kids and I don’t, I just have a hard time hanging out with them. We have nothing in common anymore”

“Her energy is so toxic, I need to break up with her, but I don’t know how.”

“She just complains all.the.time.  I don’t know how to help her anymore, and I honestly don’t want to keep being her friend.”

“I feel like I’m evolving and my old friends just aren’t, they’re holding me back and I know I should cut them out of my life.”

There’s this trend in self-help to “cut the fat” out of our lives in order to leave space for more beautiful things to come in.  But to be honest with you, I don’t buy it.  Instead of breaking up with every friend who doesn’t fit perfectly into your life right now, I want to invite you to try out the following strategies:

Try this if your friend “just doesn’t get you anymore”: In this situation you feel like you have nothing to talk about over lunch.  The topics you find interesting like meditation or starting a business don’t interest them at all, and although you feel like you used to talk for hours effortlessly, it’s now like pulling teeth.

Instead of breaking up with this friend, rethink what they bring to your life.  Sure they may not have identical interests as you, but maybe they’ve known you for years, and hold the key to your past.  Maybe they’re the ones who will dance with you in your PJ’s or gab over trashy magazines.  Just because you are going through a new phase in your life, doesn’t mean they don’t know you anymore.  In fact, they may know you better than you do.  You see, when we start something new – a new business, a new family, a new spiritual practice, a new way of eating, we tie up our whole identity in that new lifestyle. But in truth, this is just a small part of you, and when you have someone around who can anchor you to your past (which I’m sure isn’t all bad) you can remember who your whole self is.

Now, you don’t have to continue to talk to or see this person as often as you used too.  I encourage you to shift the time commitment of the relationship to weekend getaways and long, sporadic dinners.  Talk about the past, catch up and enjoy not talking about your new life for one night.  Make sure to find some new friends who can fill in the everyday connection you crave.

When I first started my business I went through a phase when I only wanted to spend time with other entrepreneurs.  I felt like I had nothing in common with the women I had known for years.  At the time, I assumed that these new friends could replace my old ones.  Now, as my life is shifting away from building my business to building my family, I am craving connection with my old friends so deeply, and I’m so happy I didn’t follow the trend of “breaking up” with them.

Try this if your friend drives you bat sh*t crazy and is making you miserable: In this situation, your friend feels like a toxic drain in your life.  She’s either mean, a constant complainer, super needy or is constantly making you feel guilty for being a bad friend.  Every time her name shows up on your cell, your throat tightens and your fists clench.

All you know is that you want her out of your life, but confrontation makes you want to puke. What’s a girl to do?

I’m guessing, since I’ve coached tons of women through this situation, that you haven’t really told her how you feel.  So the first step to take is vulnerability.  Vulnerability requires being honest, being real and telling her how you feel… without attachment to the outcome.

The hard thing about vulnerability is that starting the conversation is the hardest thing in the world, harder than cutting someone out of your life.  But the amazing thing is that once you get the conversation going, it can change a relationship on a dime and bring in crystal clear clarity.

For example: Let’s say you have a friend who only calls you to complain.  Instead of one day deciding to never call her back, give her a call and tell her something along the lines of, “I wanted to be honest with you about something, it’s been really hard for me the past few years that every time you call, I feel like you complain.  It makes me feel like I have to fix you, even though I know I don’t, and it really brings me down.  I want to have a friendship where we have celebrations too, and I also want to have the space to talk about my life. Does that make sense? What do you think?” Notice how I use the structure… “When you do this… it makes me feel….” That way it’s not a blame game, you’re just telling them how their behavior affects you.

Now, she’s either going to say that she totally understands, she’s sorry and that she wants to work on the friendship.

OR she’s going to freak out, tell you that you’re a terrible friend and get super angry.

The former will allow you to build a new friendship that feels great to you, even if you thought it was impossible. The latter will allow you to mutually and easily part ways either forever, or until she’s ready to see her faults.

If you’re thinking “it’s not even worth trying, I know she’s going to freak out”, I don’t care.  Please give her the benefit of the doubt and know that vulnerability and honesty can bring out the best in people and relationships.

Why this is important: Female friendships provide fun, connection, a sense of belonging and understanding.  Without them we can feel alone, misunderstood and frankly, bored.  When we are in this state of depletion, food can feel like the only thing to ease the discomfort.  The reality is that if you’re in a state of depletion or anxiety in your friendships, no diet, meal plan or desire to be thin can stop you from overeating.  The only way to having freedom around food is to really dive in and handle this area of your life.

In the comments below I’d love to know your unique situation with your friend, and what your plan is to bring that relationship to a better place.

I can’t wait to hear from you,

Sarah


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