How to (Politely) Break Up With Friends

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I received an email from an old colleague slash friend a few days ago. The email said that she had lost my number, was let go from her job, and had a baby less than a year ago.

I couldn’t help but recall the last time we met: I just had my daughter, agreed to meet her at a location she had picked near her work (45 minutes away from my home), where she then ordered nothing and left less than an hour later.

So, naturally, I was surprised by her text after sending her my number. Of course she’d want to talk to someone about being let go. And a new child? That’s a big deal! Without a doubt, I wanted to catch up.

She asked if we could meet in between our locations, which ended up being a coffee shop in Tempe. As I’m about to back out of my driveway in North Phoenix, I receive a text: “Mind if my husband and two boys come along?”

It was a little odd as I hadn’t seen her in over a year, and her brood was going to join (under the topic circumstance), but I didn’t mind.

But then, as anyone knows with a toddler, driving 30-45 minutes anywhere gets restless. My daughter was out of control by the time we arrived in Tempe. When I pulled into the parking lot of the cafe, I received another text from her: “Leaving now. 20 minutes late.”

Naturally, I was furious. I thought about just letting it go, rolling over me: “It’s OK. I’ll see you soon.” I mean, she was just let go. But what is a 16-month-old going to do waiting for 20 minutes at a coffee shop and then when they arrive? More so, am I going to turn around, plop my daughter in the car, and then drive the 45 minutes back where she’s crying the entire time?

I was peeved, especially since this friend was a mother herself.

Just as I was about to text that it was alright, I decided that I really needed another route with our friendship, especially since my “mom” time was a bit more particular now. I wasn’t going to go silent and “ghost” her friendship like an immature teenager; she deserved and needed an explanation.

And here’s the point of this tirade: It’s OK to be real to others despite seemingly negative circumstances. In fact, we need to be more genuine to others, especially as we get older, no matter how difficult the truth is.

My truth is that I don’t have time or emotional energy to spend on her friendship, especially since her past behavior showed the opposite towards me.

I wasn’t going to be cruel about it. Later that night, I simply let her know that it was difficult to be her friend now. I then wished that she could connect with people who want to lift and support her, just as she lifts and supports people continuously.

So with that, I know that I made the right decision about letting go of a friendship where I couldn’t invest myself. There was no lingering guilt, but a hope that things improve for her, just as I choose to surround myself with people who are genuine, positive, supportive, and mature with me — especially as a mom.

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Brighid was born and raised in Tempe with her two brothers and two sisters. As the fourth of five children, she's very aware how her first-born Welsh husband, Adam, and first-born daughter, Brynn, will play the role of the "smarty pants, know-it-alls" in her family. Joking aside, Brighid has a degree in creative writing with a minor in classics from U of A and received her M.Ed from ASU in secondary English education. As a part-time humanities teacher at ASU Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix, Brighid focuses on drama, computer science, media and technology, as well as journalism. She's passionate about dancing with the "Beatbugs" alongside her daughter, AZ road trips, Spotify playlists, Anna Faris podcasts, modern astrology, and shaktipat kundalini yoga. You can find more of her work and professional writing on her blog The Seagoat Mama.

1 COMMENT

  1. Very well said Brighid. You did good. You cannot have friends who only take from the marble jar. Something that has become more and more obvious to me as I grow older… and wiser xo

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