friendship breakups

Tag: friendship breakups

When a Group of Friends Falls Apart

In this month’s HerTake question, Nina is tackling the sticky issue of maintaining individual friendships when a group of friends falls apart. Have you been in this situation as an adult or even in younger years, perhaps? We love that our community helps each other in the comments section. Don’t be afraid to add your two cents.

Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

when-agroup-offriendsfalls-apart-768x768

Dear Nina:

I’ve shared a close friendship with a group of women for several years. However, the dynamic of the group is evolving and the group of friends is falling apart because of external and internal reasons. I’ve maintained individual relationships with each woman; however, now I feel like I am in the middle, because although I get along with each person individually that isn’t the case across the board.

Should I address this with the group or let it go? And if I choose to let go of the group, how do I continue to maintain individual friendships without stepping on anyone’s toes?

Any advice is appreciated.

Signed,

Confused

 

Dear Confused,

Without knowing the details of why your group is falling apart or any of the other micro issues, I know others will relate to the problem of being connected to a group of friends that is long past its expiration date.

Before I go on, I want to address the people reading this question (and answer) who are silently asking themselves, “Why is an adult part of a group of friends anyway?”

Reasons Why Adults End Up in a Group of Friends

  • The group is a carryover from high school or college with some new configurations, but it started “way back when.”
  • The members of the group all met in a common setting like a class or in a work environment that no longer meets regularly so the group formed to keep the individuals together.
  • There can be a bit of mystery to how and why a group forms. Frankly, sometimes the group can feel manufactured, which is usually the first kind to fall apart.

I’m not going to say all groups disintegrate because I couldn’t possibly know that, but every group I’ve been a part of has gone through significant permutations over time. Some of those permutations have led to an ultimate disintegration, but in each case, the new reality has been more of a relief than a problem.

In other words, I’ve never been part of a group that was worth keeping together under all circumstances. The group’s history should never become more important that its current health. (By “health” I mean, the members of the group are kind to each other and as free from drama as possible.)

Ultimately, the individual relationships are what matter most, especially when the group dynamics feel forced at best and unpleasant at worst. Sounds like you’re in at least one of those positions right now so let’s get practical.

How to keep your relationships strong with the individuals you like:

#1. Based on your question, this needs to be said: It is not your problem whether other members of the group continue to stay friends or whether they form a new group. At this point, you need to focus on who brings out the best in you and vice versa. I wouldn’t make any formal announcements about your desire to step away from the group. This will be a case of actions speaking louder than words, or you simply slipping under the radar, which is probably for the best.

#2. Make consistent plans with the women you enjoy. Lunch, walks, coffee, tickets to a show—anything that means time spent with one other person. Personally, I find walks the best way to catch up with one friend at a time. Also, there’s a natural end time, which is a nice plus (in my opinion).

#3. Be careful to avoid allowing the growing bonds with certain individuals to revolve around a common frustration with the former group. It’s tempting to get others to feel the way you do about the group or to commiserate with individuals who already share your aggravation, but too much of this chitchat will create a false sense of closeness. Don’t fall for it!

By the way, these group permutations happen in families, too. Sometimes different groupings of siblings and siblings-in-law are closer and sometimes they’re in a moment (or years) of drifting apart. Same goes for cousins and other relatives. David Sedaris had a great essay recently in the New Yorker that is seemingly about shopping in Tokyo, but is really about these shifting group dynamics. Other than enjoying the standard cleverness of Sedaris, I also liked the matter-of-fact attitude in which he talks about how relationships morph again and again.

Thanks so much for your question, Confused. I hoped at the very least I helped you see how normal the shifting dynamics are.

Good luck!

Nina

 

FULL RES - Badzin-03 copy-1

You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

We’re always looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

**Two of our most popular online writing courses, The Balanced Writer (our newest class, offered this past winter!) and Publish Your Personal Essay, are being offered as significantly discounted self-paced courses for a limited time! Just $40 each or $60 for both! Don’t miss this great deal; sign up now to treat yourself to some inspiration, polish your skills, and connect with a writing community! Details here.

 

 

HerTake: Feeling the Loss After a Breakup With Another Couple

Have you ever experienced the breakup of a friendship with another couple? Today’s question comes from a reader who thinks there is a definite lack of resources available on this difficult situation, and we agree! Fortunately, we have Nina to tackle another challenging subject: a couples’ friendship breakup.

Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

HerTakenoavatar

Dear Nina,

My long-term partner and I, both women, were close friends with another lesbian couple for about 30 years until a difficult breakup occurred following a conflict. If info is somewhat lacking about one-on-one friendship breakups, it’s sorely missing when it comes to two couples ending their relationship with each other. The events leading up to the breakup, the process of trying to sort things out, and the decision-making regarding letting go seemed so much more complicated!

Have you run into this before, whether with LGBT couples or heterosexual? Know of any resources for working through the feelings and the loss?

Thank you for your consideration.

 Signed,

Double the Loss

 

Dear Double the Loss,

You’re right! When it comes to the subject of couple friends most of the information I’ve read focuses on how to handle the “custody of your friends” after the couple in question has broken up temporarily or divorced, which is not what you’re asking about in your letter.

You’re also not asking me or The HerStories Project’s astute readers to consider what happened in this particular situation. (Though we’re here to listen if you ever change your mind.) It sounds like you and your partner have resigned yourselves to the fact that the friendship with the other pair is over, but you still feel a sense of loss and want to know how to move forward. And to answer your other question, yes, I have been there, too.

Losing the friendship of another couple is difficult, and you’re perfectly justified to wallow a bit. Whether you and your partner tried to distance yourselves from the other couple or the other couple distanced themselves from the two of you, it can be extremely awkward and painful to figure out what to do next. For example, what happens when anyone in the former foursome runs into each other? What if the four of you share other friends? (In both cases you will rise to the occasion because you will have no other choice. Always take the high road and avoid trying to get common friends to take sides. Be the first to say hello when you’re at the same event. Try to listen more than you talk since anything you say in that anxious state is something you’ll question later.)

The hardest piece of all is what you already mentioned about loss. The feelings of loss, and I will add, rejection, do not disappear with the end of the friendship. If anything, those feelings can get worse before they get better.

I think there are some solid standbys that are helpful when there’s any break in a friendship. Remember, I’m saying “helpful” tips, not easy ones. I realize the type of thinking I’m advocating below is easier said than done, but we all have to start somewhere when we find ourselves in this position of loss, no matter if we instigated the breakup or find ourselves on the receiving end of someone else’s decision to call it quits.

SOMEWHAT RANDOM THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER AFTER BREAKING UP WITH ANOTHER COUPLE

#1. We never know what is going on with another person—make that double for another couple. This means that if a couple needs a break from you and your partner, accept that whatever has been bothering them may be a temporary situation and could have nothing to do with the two of you. The same applies when you need a break from another couple. Perhaps the way one or both people in question have been bothering you is really more about changes in your life or your partner’s life and not a reflection of anybody’s direct wrongdoing. How is this assumption that it’s not only about you supposed to make you feel better? It won’t, but it might help you take things less personally, which is a start.

#2. Each individual involved in a friendship breakup may be simultaneously in the right and in the wrong. There’s usually more than one issue at play when it comes to the ending of any sort of friendship. Since we’re talking about four individuals here, the possibilities for blame, overly taking offense, or problematic self-righteousness are endless. Holding on to the need to be right can become a bigger problem than the original schism if there was one particular instance that set the four of you on a bad path. What’s my point? It won’t help you move on to dwell on why you’re right, which leads me to the next thought.

#3. Use any friendship breakup as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself what went wrong in the relationship on both sides. Where can you take responsibility and plan for a different outcome in the future in your other friendships? Part of dealing with this particular kind of loss is learning from mistakes. How can you and your partner protect the relationships you have with any other couples and single friends you enjoy?

#4. Speaking of other couples, is there now room in your lives to meet a new couple? I hate to say “when one door closes another one opens,” but . . . I had to say it because it’s true. Time is finite. Now you have a sliver more time to give to all your other friends and to extend yourselves to new people.

#5. Keeping tabs on your old friends will not help. Try not to cyber stalk; try not to overtly ask your common friends how those two are doing; try your hardest not to speak ill of them. (That can be tough, I know.)

#6. Almost every friendship letter I receive here boils down to unmet expectations, leaving me to wonder whether unrealistic expectations are the true source of all friendship issues. This is a good lesson to take into the next friendship. Be careful about pinning too many expectations on one person (or on two people in this instance).

#7. Acknowledge that chemistry between friends ebbs and flows for many reasons, few of which we can control. When someone moves, enters a new romantic relationship, starts a new job, or has new responsibilities like taking care of a sick parent or has children—all of these factors and many more will change the time and effort that can go into a friendship. Sometimes the change in chemistry is personal and sometimes it isn’t. We can only control what we can control.

#8. Finally, never say never when it comes to the end of a friendship. Unless we’re talking about an abusive or dangerous situation, I think it’s good to stay open to the idea of a reconciliation. The time apart might even strengthen the friendship, which is something that has happened to me.

So, Double the Loss, since I don’t know about your specific situation, I can only do so much to help, but I hope some of the above “random thoughts” address what you’re facing right now.

 Best of luck,

Nina

FULL RES - Badzin-03 copy-1

You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

It’s a new year, and we’re looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

Book Club With The HerStories Project

Are you in a book club? Book clubs aren’t always quite as easy or fun as they sound; even our own advice columnist, Nina Badzin, has struggled with book club drama! Some book clubs run into trouble when members disagree about the “terms” (you know, whether or not your group actually reads the book or whether they just sit around and drink wine and talk about their kids), and some book clubs can’t seem to agree on a book that interests all of them. I’m embarrassed to say that every single book club I’ve ever been part of (three!) has dissolved for one reason or another.

But maybe you are one of the lucky ones and you have the perfect book club. Now all you need is the perfect book! (Do you see where I’m going with this one?) Not surprisingly, we think My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends would make a fantastic book club book. Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. Essay collections make for an easy, enjoyable read: you can put the book down and pick it up as often as you like, reading a whole section of the book in one sitting or just an essay or two at a time.
  2. These stories are real, which makes them even more compelling and relatable. We think you’ll find yourself somewhere in these essays, if not over and over again throughout the book.
  3. Friendship breakups and loss are universal; everyone can relate to the loss of a close friendship, whether it occurred recently or many years ago, and whether you were the one who was left behind or you did the walking. Reading about the friendship endings of others is sure to stir up some memories and feelings, and that makes excellent fodder for book club conversation.
  4. You might actually experience some relief, a catharsis, or an “aha” moment by talking about friendship loss with other women. One of my best friend’s husbands always says, “Have fun at therapy!” whenever we get together. It’s true: women gathering together and talking about the richness, complexity, and pain of relationships can be extremely therapeutic.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, we have one more fun reason why we think My Other Ex would make a great choice for your book club. If your book club decides to read and discuss My Other Ex for its next meeting, you can have a complimentary Skype call with one of the editors! During your book club meeting, either Jessica or I (Stephanie) will be available for a Skype call where members of your group can ask us questions about the book, the publishing process, the essays, or friendship breakups in general. We already have one lined up, and we think it’s going to be so much fun! Send us an email at info@herstoriesproject.com if you’re interested in setting up a chat for your book club meeting! You can buy the book here, and we’re including some Discussion Questions below to get you thinking:

book club HSP

Book Club Discussion Questions for My Other Ex

  • How old were you when you experienced your first friendship breakup? Who ended it? Did it take a long time to recover?
  • Have you had many friendships end? Did they fade away or were the breakups more dramatic?
  • When was the most recent time a friendship with a close friend ended? How did you feel?
  • Have you ever broken up with a friend? Why? Did you feel guilty?
  • Has a friend ever badly hurt you by ending your relationship?
  • Have you ever had a friendship end unexpectedly? Was it more painful than a gradual ending? Why?
  • Have you ever had a friendship end because of a romantic relationship? Did you lose friends after a divorce (yours or a friend’s) or after ending a romantic relationship?
  • Have your friendship breakups affected other friends in your circle? Did people have to take sides? Have you ever been “left behind” when your friends chose another friend over you?
  • What do you wish you’d done differently in the breakup? What do you wish your friend had done differently?
  • What would you say to your friend now, if you could?
  • Did you ever have a friendship end and it brought you relief?
  • Have you broken up with a close friend only to reconnect later? How did it change your friendship?
  • Do you think friendship breakups are more or less painful than a romantic relationship ending? Why?

 

We would love to hear your reactions to the book! If you’ve read it, please consider writing a review on Amazon– it means a lot to us! And please spread the word to other book clubs you know! Happy reading!

Connect with us! Are you signed up for our newsletter yet? Sign up in the sidebar to keep up to date on all our news and announcements. (Spoiler alert: We have a big one coming on Monday!) You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.