Big book chain stores have whole sections dedicated to handling romantic breakups. There is, however, little ready guidance on how to break it off with a friend, and for many young adults, friendships can last longer and be more intense than their romantic relationships. Whether you’re growing away from an old friend or trying to ditch a clingy new one, there’s a time and way to let go that can be both compassionate and effective.
1. Friendship Measure
Before you break away from even a clingy friend, it’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons of the relationship. There aren’t too many perfect people out there, so if your friend’s only fault is that she really enjoys your company, you might want to hold off on ditching her completely. Explain that you need your space, and try placing limits on your time together -- both actual and virtual. Let her know when she fits into your schedule and when your focus must be elsewhere. You might find that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
If you need to break it off completely, do so in a way that’s honest without being hurtful. On the "Today" show website, psychotherapist Robi Ludwig recommends suggesting that your life is just “moving in a different direction.” It’s easier to say such sentiments, however, when they are true. If you work together in the same office, you may need to take a harder line and follow some traditional breakup strategies. Find something positive to say before you suggest going your separate ways and end with some reaffirming sentiment that allows your nearly former friend to leave the relationship with her dignity intact.
3. Face to Face
As difficult as it is, try to arrange a face-to-face meeting where you can discuss your relationship. If you’re sure this is someone you don’t want in your life, there really is no need to call out her faults. What you consider clingy may be perfectly acceptable behavior to her other friends. Instead, shoulder the blame or divide it between the two of you. The “it’s not you, it’s me” or “we really want different things” lines are cliché only because they often work.
4. No Burnt Bridges
Regardless of how you now feel about your clingy friend, she must possess some good qualities or you would never have called her a friend. With those better memories in mind, be careful not to say or do anything you’ll regret. Ending a relationship as amicably and privately as you can assures a bridge will still exist between you if you ever cross her way again. And whatever you do, don’t use social media to gripe about her or boast about the breakup. Such a public display of bad feelings reflects more negatively on you than her.
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