When To “Divorce” A Friend

The Singapore Women's Weekly|May 2020

When To “Divorce” A Friend
It can be hard to tell if a problematic friendship needs an intervention or whether it should end. Here’s how you can tell the difference, and the best way to handle it

When you hit a rocky patch with a close friend, the emotional fallout can be as overwhelming – and heartbreaking – as dealing with a troubled romantic relationship. Facing it is tricky and confronting, no matter your age.

No friendship is perfect, of course, and external forces like career, marriage, babies, divorce and illness test our bonds with the closest to us. But how do you distinguish between a friendship that requires a little maintenance and one that has reached the point of no return? Here, the experts look at some typical friendship issues and advise the right course to take.

1 SHE’S TOO DEPENDENT ON YOU

This is the friend who demands much more of you than you do of her. She expects she’ll always be part of your plans, and gets upset or angry when she finds out you’ve spent time with others. And out of guilt, you keep trying to appease her.

HOW TO DEAL WITH HER: Set new boundaries. This type of behaviour requires early intervention, says Dr Joann Lukins, founder of Peak Performance Psychology.

“Tell your friend, ‘I want to talk to you about when you got cross with me the other day because I had coffee with X’, and explain that you need to spend time with other friends as well, and that you’d like her to give you this space and not be upset or resentful. Then it is up to her on how she reacts to it, how she can cope with it, and whether it fits with her.”

2 SHE DOESN’T MAKE AN EFFORT

You’re always the one organising the catch-ups and calling or texting to check in, she frequently cancels plans, and the only time she comes to you is when she needs something.

HOW TO DEAL WITH HER: Speak up. “If you don’t like the behaviour of your friend because of how it makes you feel, then you need to call on it,” says Dr Lukins. “Have a direct conversation such as, ‘It was good to catch up today. Next time, how about you organise it and let me know?’” If she doesn’t pick up the ball, you’ll have to accept that she is not a good friend and let it go.

3 SHE DOESN’T FIT IN WITH YOU ANYMORE

You’ve known each other since secondary school and have shared some amazing landmark moments in life. Still, as the years have passed, you’ve gone in different directions – and these days, all you have in common is history.

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May 2020