How do I end this friendship?
June 21, 2015 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I am wrestling with how best to end a friendship. snowflake details inside, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

A couple years ago, I started hanging out with a guy from a different department at work (not dating, just hanging out as friends). It was fine for awhile because we saw each other infrequently. But recently, I moved to an apartment very close to his in an otherwise boring neighborhood, and he’s wanting to hang out much more often, calls/texts to chat more often, and just generally has me on the radar to a much higher degree. I, on the other hand, have been feeling really frustrated with him for a number of reasons and so over the friendship. There’s a whole long list of reasons why I feel I need to cut him out of my life, and I can provide those if needed, but none of them are malicious on his part. Basically, he’s going along thinking we’re really good friends, and I’m feeling like this friendship has run its course and needs to be over.

I don’t want to be confrontational about it or hurt his feelings, because he really hasn’t done anything wrong. But I also feel like the “slow fade” isn’t going to work since we now both work at the same place and live blocks away from each other (and because he's much more persistent now). Is there a happy medium here or am I doomed for a rough conversation? I’ve thought about gentle comments like, “I need some space,” but I’m worried that will just lead to more questions from him and navigating that will result in hurt feelings anyway.

I would just really appreciate any advice, any thoughts you might have on the matter. If further details are needed, I’ll be happy to provide. Thanks as always, mefites.
posted by carlypennylane to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think hurting his feelings is a given at this point, but you don't need to necessarily give him the whole "reasons I don't like you" list. Perhaps pick one of the frustrations that bothers you a lot, is something he can't/won't just fix overnight, and is not something he'll bring up at work (e.g., is he sexist/racist/homophobic/etc.?) and tell him that's why you don't want to be friends anymore.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2015

Maybe try to make your life "busier" than it's been. "Oh, I have a million things to do after work these days, so I won't be able to hang out anymore."
posted by xingcat at 9:43 AM on June 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

Could you schedule something in the distant future? As in next time he says "Hey, come over" you say, "I'm busy for the next month, but how about lunch in 3 weeks?" Repeat as needed for intervening contacts. "Still busy, see you in two weeks." Having something on the books could give you a break from having to think about it, and might train him to expect less contact. Not fast, but might give you a slow fade with minimal conflict.

I will say, I've known some people who can be a bit cluelessly persistent about hanging out, and a lot of them also seemed to react well to straight forward feedback. So a "Hey, we get to see a lot of each other at work etc, I just need some downtime/SO time/whatever" would be both effective and well-received. Sometimes you'd get a question about it, but a "it's just how I work" would get an "aha!" moment that sent them merrily on their way. So, if you did still like the idea of being casual friends, it might be worth a shot (you would obviously have a better idea if he has this kind of personality).
posted by ghost phoneme at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'd start a new, boring, solitary hobby, get enthusiastic about it, and start devoting all your spare time to it. Maybe fibers or knitting.
posted by bq at 9:49 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, there's no way to tell someone that you don't consider them a friend and don't want to be around them anymore without hurt. Which isn't to say you shouldn't do it. Without knowing exactly why things went south for you, I can't really advise you what you might say other than to be clear and be as kind as possible.

But you're work colleagues. Tread lightly. You don't want things blowing up for you at work.
posted by inturnaround at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't think this needs to be a "come to Jesus" hard confrontational stop. Slow fade = generally not showing any interest, no reciprocation. He texts or messages you a couple of times, ignore most of/all of them. He asks if you want to hang out or do something specific, either ignore or say "nah, I'm not really up for it"... "I'm busy with something" ... "No, thanks though". He persists, ignore him. He calls, you either ignore his call or pick up, try to keep the conversation short, avoid engaging in much dialogue (be very vague like "uh huh" "I guess") and turn down any offers to hang out, citing you're otherwise occupied or not up for it. If he flat out confronts you about your vagueness/dodging him, say you're just not really interested in hanging out with him anymore, nothing personal, you two just don't jive like he thinks you do. But you can basically pseudo-avoid him until he gets the message or flat out asks.
posted by lizbunny at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

There was this fairly recent question about a very similar situation that might be helpful.
posted by tinwhiskers at 10:18 AM on June 21, 2015

thanks everyone, all your input was helpful. i might try the slow fade for awhile longer, then if he's truly not getting the hint, say something as gently as possible ("we're in different places in life" or "different personalities" or something).
posted by carlypennylane at 12:14 PM on June 21, 2015

I think you described the situation well in your question. You might try just telling him what you told us: You enjoyed hanging out with him every now and again in the past, but you don't feel like you get along with him well enough to become close friends. Now the whole situation is feeling like too much, and you want to be strictly co-workers from now on.

If you feed him a bunch of lines about being in different places in life or something, then on some level he'll be able to tell that he's not getting the real story. That'll leave him confused, and feeling like there's unfinished business. He'll likely feel like there's something that he needs to figure out before he can move on, and will want to ask a bunch of questions or go over the situation multiple times. That's the last thing you want. What you want is for him to accept the situation with as little argument as possible. I think the best way to do that is to tell him the truth. I'm sure he'll still have questions and concerns, but if everything feels like the truth then those'll get settled much more quickly, I think.
posted by sam_harms at 2:24 PM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

"I'm finding it hard to switch off from work so I'm keeping my work and personal life seperate from now on, thanks for understanding."
posted by Jubey at 10:28 PM on June 21, 2015

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