Why Can’t We End Bad Friendships, Like We Would End Bad Relationships?

A man on Bumble told me he walked out on The Weeknd during his performance at Coachella. For me, that was enough to be a deal-breaker. It has been three days and we have not talked, so he is officially out of my circle of potential suitors and I doubt I will ever meet him or speak to him again.

Why is it so easy to cut off romantic interests, yet not friends?

Part of it, I think, is that there is no longer any shame in being single. Hell, being single is sometimes preferable to being in a relationship. We have the “men are trash” memes, a third Bridget Jones film where she is no longer a sad spinster, and a new mantra from Dua Lipa. Being single has never been more fashionable or, with the advent of dating apps, more fun.

Friendships, on the other hand, are a whole other story. You may have friends who mess you around time and time again, with drunken arguments, exclusive meet-ups or passive aggressive texts, yet you still respond when they send a message.

Maybe that’s partly because there is no nice way to ‘dump’ a friend. Sure, there is no nice way to dump a romantic interest either, but there are plenty of options. You can meet up with them and say “Look, you’re a lovely person, but this isn’t going anywhere.” You can take the coward’s way out with “It’s not you, it’s me” or “My head is just all over the place at the moment.” Hell, you can even sass them if they deserve it (like that time I dumped my Year 7 boyfriend by changing my Bluetooth name to “James, you’re dumped”. Turns out he didn’t even hold that girl’s hand #mybad)

With friends, there is no way to do it. You can’t text them saying “We need to talk” and then give a spiel about how they’re amazing but not what you’re looking for right now. Because, unlike people in a monogamous relationship, there is no limit to how many friends we can have. This makes chucking the rotten apples infinitely harder.

But even if there was some perfect way to cut out toxic and unpleasant friendships, I’m not sure I’d take it. Maybe Gretchen Wieners was right in believing it was better to be miserable and part of the Plastics than not be in the Plastics at all.

Or maybe we don’t call out our bad friendships because of the crippling feeling of loneliness that comes when you accept a friendship or even a whole friendship group has fallen apart. When you’re single, you’re part of a network of fellow singletons – you may joke about dying alone, but you know you’re all in the same boat. Solidarity, sister!

But when you make the decision to end a friendship, it’s a lonely process. You’re removing someone from your life and there are no sassy Dua Lipa anthems to get you through, no universal club of people in the same boat. You may feel a twinge of glee when you shout “Men are trash!” and take Tequila shots with your pals, but there is no fun equivalent when we end friendships that no longer serve or grow us.

This needs to change. From now on, let’s treat our friends and frenemies the same way we would treat a Bumble match. Do you have a friend who constantly calls you basic and thinks she’s better than you (shout out to Tom from Bumble) ? End that friendship. Do you have a couple of mates that often make you feel left out or not good enough? Walk away. You wouldn’t put up with that shit from some fit guy called Darren, so there’s no reason you should put up with it from your pals.

Two more things that I think are important to remember. Firstly, nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws, so don’t go cutting out people because they’re always 10 minutes late or they voted Leave in the Brexit referendum. We must take these flaws and accept them because we love the person and they make us happy.

Secondly, you are never alone. Cutting out bad friendships is an incredibly brave thing to do, and it can make you feel lonely and like you need to immediately make new friends to fill the gap. But, as one of my best mates says: You have people who love you and care about you, and those who don’t have no right to be in your life.

Just because you’re not currently #livingyourbestlife with a group of six people in a huge apartment in New York (can I sue Friends for giving me unrealistic expectations for my twenties?) that doesn’t mean it’s not in the cards. We are still young and still meeting new people through work, pubs and even the odd rogue Zumba class. If life isn’t amazing yet, don’t worry because it will be.

And until then, we reserve the right to stop speaking to people who irritate us. Including the lunatic who walked off when The Weeknd performed at Coachella.


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