'I broke up with my friend, and I've never been happier' - expert tips on ending a friendship

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Illustration photo by Getty Images.
  • There aren't enough songs, movies, or TV series on the difficulty of handling the end of friendships, it feels like we're alone.
  • Friendship breakups are the worst, they can tear up your soul. But on the flip side, they can also bring you joy.
  • Palesa Chidi candidly explains how her friendship breakup helped her to have more peace of mind and a happier outlook on life.

I've had some heartbreaks in the past, but there's one that broke my heart in an unusually painful way. That's because the breakup wasn't one from a romantic partner, nail technician, or barber. It was with a friend.

Recently, I had to look my friend of 9 years in the eye and tell her that I don't want to be friends with her anymore. She just stood there in disbelief, and honestly, I don't know why she pretended to be shocked.

Our friendship had become downright toxic - it wasn't me, it was her.

READ MORE | Why do we put up with bad friends? A friendship expert answers

I did not want to stay in a mentally exhausting friendship, just because we had been friends for a long time, I had to choose myself.

At first, it was painful because she had always been my sidekick, my safety blanket. But I did what was best for me, and I couldn't be happier.

I realised that not all friendships will last, some people are just not meant to be. Someone I had tons of fun with in my teenage years might not be a great fit for my twenties. And that is ok, we move. Some things must come to an end, I guess. 

READ MORE | The frenemy myth: Women aren't nastier towards each other, the dynamic is much harsher between men

It broke my heart, but it had to be done.

I reached out to an expert to find out some of the ways we can break up with friends who no longer bring us joy.

'The Relationship Architect,' Shelley Lewin, says that letting people know in person offers the most grace and is also the most courageous.

"It is easy to ghost or text someone, but it is not considerate or kind. Being abandoned or dumped by anyone is a wonderful learning opportunity to become more aware and to become a better person (rather than angry and bitter)," she says.

"Be authentic when you express yourself about why you find the relationship challenging and the behaviours that make you uncomfortable. There is no need to attack the character of the person."

READ MORE | How to be a shoulder to lean on for a friend when they go through tough times

Shelley explains that "a healthy friendship includes acceptance, approval, and appreciation for who you are. Any relationship is toxic when you are unable to be the full version of yourself. If you have to compromise on your self-respect, dignity, or values in order to 'fit' into the friendship, its toxic."

According to Shelley, Friends may be unaware that they are harming you and your connection because it is a blind spot for them. You can't get your friend to modify their behaviour unless you express your dissatisfaction with it.

READ MORE | 5 questions you should ask yourself before staying friends with an ex who betrayed or hurt you

Shelley has these tips for you if you are in a friendship conundrum:

  • Give your friend the chance to fix or correct their problem-behaviour pattern.
  • It's time to move on if he/she continues to damage you despite your requests and you're constantly upset by their words or behaviour.
  • Attend to your own needs and be gentle with yourself.
  • Surround yourself with people, places, and things that fill your tank from the inside.
  • Avoid the people that make you feel psychologically unsafe. Go where you are celebrated. Not where you are tolerated.

Have you ever had to break up with a friend? Tell us about it here

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