Bye-bye ex-friend, please.
December 12, 2012 1:21 PM   Subscribe

How to end a friendship as painlessly as possible? (online snowflake-y version)

Will try to sum this up as short as possible: I met this girl online a couple months ago and we really hit it off fast. It started big, looking back, probably too big, with us chatting pretty much all the time (through IMs, phonecalls, etc...), to the point that we were probably spending 6-7 hours every day just talking. We seemed to have a bunch of stuff in common and got along great... for the most part. We are both females and around the same age (mid-20s). After a while (couple weeks, give or take), it became obvious that she was starving for any sort of companionship because though I have a fairly weak friend-network, I am not completely without support ( and being an introvert I prefer it that way) but she admitted not having any other friend at all, either online or offline, and being completely isolated from people in general besides her boyfriend. Anyway, I never thought much of it, we were doing a bunch of online activities (games, etc) together and everything seemed to be sailing just fine. That is, until she started sharing pretty private things with me, and (I realize I should've set my boundaries back then and pushed her off... ) having a huge toll on my mental health. At that point, she started getting pretty possessive and I couldn't even mention my other friends without her snapping. Slowly, I started to grow resentful of her, and at this point? I just don't want anything to do with her. It should be easy to simply shut her out and avoid all online contact, but because of how close we used to be, we now are now entangled in a number of ways (virtual) that are not easily disentangled... this regarding shared information and whatnot.

Yes, I realize how stupid I've been.

Communication hasn't been easy for the last couple months already, either of us tends to snap at the other and while there's a lot of misunderstandings, there's also the fact that it's obvious we have to let it go, but she's unrelenting and simply won't allow the 'break to happen'.

At the same time, I also feel extremely guilty for simply not feeling the slightest emotion toward her any more. I'm an extremely selfless person and struggle with being better to others than I am to myself, I've been getting help with that and seemed to be making progress, that is, until the past few weeks. I realize I did nothing but enable her behaviour by not standing up to myself, that I have my own handful of issues and that I really should've known better. I didn't, and I now need advice. It's pretty bad by now. I've tried to actually talk to her and explain these things as plainly and harmlessly as possible but I can't without her getting defensive, me getting upset and everything snowballing until it's impossible to talk.

What am I supposed to do now without having everything explode in an extremely dramatic manner?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Step 1: "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I can't continue communicating with you anymore."

Step 2: Ignore all future communication and never respond in any way.
posted by The Michael The at 1:25 PM on December 12, 2012 [13 favorites]

EEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. I realize that this is a touchy issue on AskMe, so I'm not gonna attempt to diagnose your soon-to-be-former-friend (STBFF?). HOWEVER, your experience sounds about 99% identical to an experience that I myself had with someone who was later diagnosed by an actual-factual shrink as having Borderline Personality Disorder. And people who get VERY close, VERY fast, and are like massive sinkholes of need, and who see the world in very polar terms, and who are needlessly jealous... well, those traits are OFTEN also found in people with BPD, too.

The best way I've found to deal with people like this is the "rip off the Band-Aid" method (which hurts more at first, but is better than slooooowly peeling it off). You have to cut off contact as rapidly, firmly and permanently as possible while still being relatively kind. And then you need to not reestablish contact at all. Do not cede ONE INCH on this - it's like squirting fuel on embers.

Best of luck. MeMail me if you wanna talk, okay? I know this is really, really rough.
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

Talking to her isn't working. Try not talking to her.

No contact. Filter/block her on the various ways she can get a hold of her, and just phase her out of your life. She doesn't have to allow the break to happen; you just have to enforce it.
posted by RainyJay at 1:27 PM on December 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

She doesn't deserve an explanation if she can't take the explanation without getting defensive.

Don't blame yourself for how you feel or don't feel about her. It's hard to impossible to be a friend's everything. What happened to you is common and you shouldn't beat yourself up for it. Kudos to you for being honest with yourself.

So cut her off. No explanation, no goodbyes. Block her. She's toxic for you. Don't take any more poison.
posted by inturnaround at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

It should be easy to simply shut her out and avoid all online contact, but because of how close we used to be, we now are now entangled in a number of ways (virtual) that are not easily disentangled... this regarding shared information and whatnot.

I’m not sure what you mean by that exactly because it sounds like this should be as easy as simply shutting her out. Have you tried that? Otherwise....

Treat this the same as a breakup. Don’t unfriend / unfollow / unwhatever her from your social networks just yet if you want to avoid drama but sites such as Facebook will allow you to hide her from your newsfeed and you can block her from seeing the bulk of your updates. I’m sure other sites have similar functionality. If they don’t, just ignore and do not directly engage her. You can eventually unfriend her completely once enough time has passed.

If you can’t ignore her and she tries to talk with you, keep things as on the surface as possible. Pretend you’re in an elevator making small talk with a stranger. Take ten minutes to respond. Make up any excuse you want; it’s all online, she won’t know the difference.
posted by Diskeater at 1:34 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

There isn't a painless way to break it off with anyone...someone is going to get hurt. What I would do is be honest about it. Tell her that you two have grown apart, and you need to break away. Make the message simple, but don't just break off contact for no reason. That's cruel and gives the message that you're trying to hurt someone, which is worse than explaining that, because of your own initiative, you would like both of you to be happy, and that can't happen while you both are still in contact.
posted by xingcat at 1:37 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

If she doesn't know anything incriminating about you, just tell her, (and do not follow up to whatever response she sends), "Hey, (friend), this is kind of hard for me but I didn't want to leave this lying without an explanation - basically I'm going to be out of touch for a while. I've noticed that we snap at each other pretty much every time we talk lately and I think some space would be good. Be well." She will try to continue this conversation - don't engage, no matter what. Then just walk away, and let "a while" become forever.

If she does know anything incriminating about you, and you think there's a reasonable fear that she'd spill that shit to other people out of vindictiveness, then just do all of the above but don't tell her you're going to do it. Be out of touch, don't respond, don't engage. Fade.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:50 PM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Just stop talking to her.
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Be willing to salt the earth behind you.

You say that you are intertwined in virtual activities? Stop doing those activities -- maybe you'll have to switch games for a while? Mafia Wars to FarmVille? World of Warcraft to Eve Online? Or maybe you can just switch guilds within the same game? Either way - anything you're doing online is probably not that important, and if she won't let you be, you should just let those things be also.

If she comes back at you with crazy somehow, just don't engage. Don't confirm or deny anything she might post in forums, just let her rant, and people will see her for the crazy she is.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:14 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

This New Yorker cartoon should sum up how I feel about stuff on the internet.

For all you know, the person at the other end of the computer is some old, pervy guy who's having a joke with you.

Or it's some woman who's no fun any more.

No matter. If you want to ditch her, do it. You can send a short email:

"Polly, this just doesn't work for me anymore. It's best for me if I didn't contact you any more. I wish you good luck in the future."

Then send her stuff to the spam folder and change you IM handle and whatever else you would normally do in a stalker situation.

You have my permission.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:18 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Don't talk to her anymore. Ignore, ignore, ignore. I don't know what you mean by shared virtual information but change the information, don't visit the site for awhile, whatever you have to do.
posted by Autumn at 2:40 PM on December 12, 2012

It should be easy to simply shut her out and avoid all online contact, but because of how close we used to be, we now are now entangled in a number of ways (virtual) that are not easily disentangled... this regarding shared information and whatnot.
I'm afraid I'm going to need clarification on this, because it would impact how I would advise an "exit strategy." I think until you explain what this means, you're going to get the same simple answers over and over here.

But, it is okay to choose your own mental health over hers. Whether she's willing to hear or accept it, she needs help that can't come from just you.
posted by sm1tten at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need to help yourself. She is not helping you, she is hindering you. If she won't listen, stop all forms of communication.

You have to look out for YOU. No one else does...

I know this sucks but life is short. You understand her issues, it's not your fault she's the way she is.

You can't change other people, only yourself.

Afterwards, make sure you spend time with friends.
posted by 6:1 at 4:16 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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