Suggestions for a text to end a friendship
May 13, 2021 6:30 AM   Subscribe

I've needed to do this for a long time, and have tried slow fading, but it doesn't work. I'm a bit concerned she'll unleash lots of buried anger at the fact that I think she has probably to some extent known I'm not very interested in her as a friend for many, many years but doesn't seem to want to accept it. Looking at it objectively, I think she may be a little controlling and that she triggers my guilt very easily which makes it hard for me to cut the cord.

Have known this person for around 25 years, since school. She was terribly bullied and to some extent I was her only friend and looked after her/reduced the level of bullying by sticking up for her and having a lot of private chats with said bullies etc.

She was always very possessive of me and needy - would talk on the phone till midnight every night despite me trying to repeatedly leave the conversation and not physically leave my side etc - and since leaving school put a lot of pressure on me to not let our friendship drift away despite me feeling suffocated and naturally gravitating towards other people as friends. I tried to tell her this in a very subtle way but she made me feel super guilty, so I kept up a few phone calls and infrequent meetings.

Fast forward to being 37, and I've essentially been trying to slow fade for about 17 years. I never call her, frequently ignore calls etc, and I finally think it's done and then get an aggressive or passive aggressive text. The last one I ignored, then she called me months after, saying 'I wondered if you were ignoring me, but then I was like, I don't care! I want her in my life!'

It's this strange mixture of super sweet but then kind of controlling?

And the conversation just does nothing for me. She talks at me until I try to get off an hour in, and then it extends to two because she still won't stop calling. When I was having a lot of big issues with dad dying of cancer etc, and being a carer, she seemed to relish telling me her life was 'perfect' (something she talks about a lot) and that her husband is so amazing etc etc when I'd just been through a breakup. I get distinct frenemy vibes but then wonder if this is my issue / I'm imagining things as I can't see why she would want to keep calling and pursuing if she kind of secretly hates me?

She's not a bad person, and I worry that I'm just making a big deal out of this when really all she asks for is like a yearly call. I can't explain why, but something about her just feels very draining and even in between calls I feel frquently guilty I'm not picking up the phone as I feel like she's keeping some kind of record and feeling resentment. She's probably just getting on with her life and this could well be my issue, but it's a feeling I can't shake.

Anyway, calls have died down to once or twice a year, but if I don't answer then I get passive aggressive, or just aggressive text. Today's:

'Hi. Just tried calling but no answer. If you're busy or would rather not talk I'm happy to stop calling. Let me know'.

So, I really need to just bite the bullet as she is explicitly asking for me to end things. I would much rather just let things fade but realise she needs this.

I don't know what to say.

Suggestions for next steps?
posted by starstarstar to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"I'm sorry, but you're right, I'd rather not talk and you should stop calling."
posted by mskyle at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2021 [20 favorites]

Best answer: "I feel bad because I'm at a different place in my life right now, and I'm just not up for conversations. I'll reach out to you if things change. I'm sorry."
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:33 AM on May 13, 2021 [25 favorites]

I think if you’re doing this by text anything short that gets the point across is fine, both the above answers can work. Send the message, then block the number on your phone and walk away.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:41 AM on May 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'd do a combo of both of the first two answers. It spells it out pretty clearly and is not being mean. Do it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:47 AM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Yes, please stop calling. Goodbye." And then block her number.

Seventeen years? I think you can probably trim some of the courtesy and apologies after seventeen years of slow torture, honestly.
posted by WaywardPlane at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I just sent her:

Hi X, thanks for that. Im sorry but you're right, I'd rather not keep in touch. I will reach out if things change but for now I feel we're in very different places. I'm sorry and wish you well x

Now not sure whether to block her or not. I feel mean completely cutting her off of being able to communicate back if she has things to say, but I'm just not sure I want to hear it.
posted by starstarstar at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2021 [13 favorites]

Oh, she's gonna have things to say. And you don't want to hear it. Specially not the hours of haranguing that will have you guiltily agreeing to stay in contact.

Block. Block, block, block.
posted by WaywardPlane at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2021 [27 favorites]

Block her, at least for a month or two. Honestly based just on this post it looks like this relationship could possibly have been salvaged to some extent if you had set boundaries and stuck to them (that's just based on this post - I'm sure there is lots about this relationship you haven't mentioned here). Set a boundary now and stick to it. It will be easier to stick to the boundary if you don't see her texts.
posted by mskyle at 6:54 AM on May 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: She actually sent a really sweet text saying it was helpful to hear and she had felt that was the case but couldn't be certain. She asked if if there was anything she'd done to hurt or upset me and whereas the answer is probably yes, I just said I felt we didn't have enough in common anymore and that there was no hard feelings, just sometimes people grow out of friendships and I hope she understands.

She has asked to chat now for a quick '2 min closure chat to say goodbye'. I don't know why but the idea of this really upsets me. It just feels really over wrought. I don't know what to do.
posted by starstarstar at 7:00 AM on May 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

So you've sent mixed messages to this person for 17 years (!), spent hours on the phone that you don't want to spend, etc., and your friend has continually tried to change expectations based on your unpredictable level of engagement, and you've harbored a low-grade resentment of them even as you claim to be their friend... I can understand your friend's confusion and frustration.

I think you need to own your part in this long, dragged-out drama. You wanted something different and didn't say so. You will be doing them a favor by coming clean.

"Yes, I'd prefer to end our friendship and stop communicating. I appreciate you putting it clearly, and I apologize for not being honest with you before."
posted by headnsouth at 7:06 AM on May 13, 2021 [29 favorites]

I feel guilty now!
That's by design. Not saying she's being manipulative by being sweet, just saying that's how this dynamic with her works. I'd encourage you to do something nice for the part of you that feels guilty, because that part of you just did something difficult but really healthy. Acknowledge that it feels a little bad to stick up for yourself here, and do something kind to take care of the part of you that feels crummy about it right now. That will pass.
posted by twelve cent archie at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

As a general rule, healthy adult relationships of any type--friendship, romantic, familial--bring out, as a trend (everyone has bad days), the best in each party. This can only really happen with honest expectations, honest communication, conflict resolution instead of conflict avoidance, all that good stuff. Resentment and contempt is poison.

It really sounds like any communication at all, at this point, no matter how you both got here, is not bringing out the best in either of you. Blocking no matter how really-sweet I'm-sorry-no-no-I'm-the-one-who's-sorry either is being is probably the best thing.
posted by Drastic at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

"This is the only closure chat I can manage. Good bye and best of luck!"

posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:20 AM on May 13, 2021 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: @Headnsouth I feel I have been quite clear with her in so far as anyone can do a pretty strong slow fade for a long time. I had also said that people grow apart and I felt we were going in different directions and she would protest etc. Lots of people don't want a confrontation and I worried she would be upset.

Anyway we just had a friendly adult chat which was kind of sad and did make me feel guilty, but gave her the sense of closure she needed, and ended on a friendly note.

Thanks everyone for your input.
posted by starstarstar at 7:24 AM on May 13, 2021 [27 favorites]

I would give her the two minutes she has requested to say good bye. It's kind, it acknowledges whatever history is there even if it's a different history in her mind.
She is not you, she has a history of being bullied. That is not your responsibility to heal, but it is a reason to be kinder.
Being not-broken-up-with properly can be painful. Let her feel you respected the friendship and are seeing it out with a way that allows her dignity. Then be on your way forever.
TLDR: Give her two more minutes of your life.

On edit: I posted the above at the same time as your update. Sounds like you did the right thing.
posted by nantucket at 7:25 AM on May 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

She has asked to chat now for a quick '2 min closure chat to say goodbye'. I don't know why but the idea of this really upsets me.

I would text back and say "I'm really sorry, I'm not able to do that." And include headnsouth's excellent script (adjust as needed). headnsouth has it - you need to own your part in this. You don't have to do it to her per se, but at least to yourself. I think part of your guilty feelings stems from that.

Edit: Ah, just saw your edit, glad the chat went well.
posted by foxjacket at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2021

You did it! Now stick to it. No closure call. No response to the closure call. Block the number. Stop coming back to this thread tho extend the conversation. You got your answer, you ended the madness, you are in the driver's seat.

Now is the part where you have to sit with the discomfort a bit. She may not accept it or like it, you may feel slightly sad, people here on mefi might think you're not being fair or might come here and give you their weird opinions about it.

But it's your life! You get to decide who to be friends with. You don't owe this lady a yearly phone call. You don't owe her any goodbyes. She knows where you stand and you were kind about it.

Don't reply to her text about a closure call. If she tries again, block her. And practice being with the discomfort that brings you until you can tolerate it.

Haha well... should have previewed instead of posting but honestly I think the reason this one sided friendship went on soooooo long is because you are so indexed on everyone agreeing it should end. You could practice not accepting the guilt and not ignoring yourself so much and it might help you in the future!
posted by pazazygeek at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted. Hi starstarstar, just a reminder that AskMetafilter isn't set up for ongoing back-and-forths in thread; you've asked your question and gotten answers, you can mark the ones you found most useful and basically that's it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:54 AM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

starstarstar, I just wanted to say, seeing your updates, that I think you handled this with grace and compassion.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:50 AM on May 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I just want to add that I think you should block her now that you've had that "closing" chat -- someone who goes "I wondered if you were ignoring me, but then I was like, I don't care! I want her in my life!" after months is probably not going to be someone that waits for you to decide whether you want to resume contact. Eventually, you've responded to her baiting and I suspect that eventually, she will resume fishing. The only way to break the cycle is to stop engaging in it.
posted by sm1tten at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2021 [6 favorites]

Absolutely agree with sm1tten. Please block her now, you need to get settled and confident in the new normal before she comes knocking again. And she will.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Please stop letting your guilt stretch this out anymore. You don’t want to speak to her. And you don’t have to.

You said she’s a good person. Reminder: she’s a genuinely shitty friend. Talking about her perfect life while you watch your dad go through hell (that alone merits being cutting off. Horrifying!), bragging about her relationship when you just broke up.

Stop setting yourself on fire to keep her warm. Clearly, she’d just watch you burn.
posted by Neekee at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

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