Cutting People Out of Your Life

We all know at least one person who has written a post on a social networking site like, “If you see this, then you have made the cut.”

Whether deleting Facebook friends or ending relationships IRL, pruning attachments and associations is a natural process most people experience in their lifetime. Even family members sometimes become too toxic to remain close to. Likewise, professional contacts, such as doctors and real estate agents, need to change over the years. 

Most friendships and relationships do not last a lifetime due to life events like relocating and switching schools or jobs. In other cases, people simply grow apart. But what is the best way to say, “Bye Felicia” to your soon-to-be former acquaintances, friends, and family?

1.) Ghosting

Suddenly withdrawing all forms of communication is the easiest form of ending a relationship. However, it is also the least mature and tactful method, especially for long-standing friends and significant relationships. Nevertheless, ghosting is effective and arguably appropriate for certain contacts.

After moving to Tennessee, I used Bumble BFF to find new friends in the area. One of the girls I met was a 23-year-old stay-at-home wife named Mary. Besides being 10 years my junior, Mary’s life was completely different from mine in almost every way. She lived in the house next door from where she grew up, she married young, she never held a job, and she didn’t drive.

In addition to being basically a child — she didn’t even hold an identification card — she was vegan, didn’t drink alcohol, and engaged in a polyamorous relationship with her husband and girlfriend. While there is nothing wrong with any of those lifestyle choices, they made it rather difficult for us to find common ground. Fortunately, we connected over weed.

After some time, however, we each stopped smoking weed. Since drinking and eating together were still out, we met up and went to the gym. But, our conversations kept hitting walls. She’d never traveled, I’d never been through marital problems. We had absolutely nothing in common

One night, I invited her to a trivia night with a couple of my easygoing friends. I chose not to drink or eat since she wasn’t eating or drinking. My friends and I also tried to keep her engaged with the dialog. But, it soon became obvious that she was uncomfortable no matter what I did.

As per the trivia rules, use of a cell phone was not prohibited and, for whatever reason, her phone’s battery was dying at an accelerated rate. As soon as her mobile shut off, so did she, even turning her body away from the table to stare at one of the restaurant’s televisions.

After that night, I knew that Mary and my friendship was done. The following week, I gave reasons for not going to the gym and then stopped messaging her altogether. I believed Mary felt the same way since she too did not message me the rest of the month. Eventually, I defriended her on Facebook and Snapchat and mentally buried her. RIP Mary.

2.) Fade Out

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles about ending friendships, women typically taper friendships until they are no more. When responses change to “Wish I could” and “Next time”, you are on the receiving end of a passive breakup. Your soon-to-be former friend has likely found a new friend or new group with more similar interests.

Conversely, fading out of one another’s lives may just be part of something bigger. New jobs, relationships, and babies can all affect the amount of time friends spend together. She might authentically wish to spend time with you but cannot due to other obligations. Don’t be selfish. Also, don’t be that girl that ditches her friends completely when she gets a new man.

Negative life events, such as unemployment, breakups, and deaths, can also wedge distance between friends. Presently, one of my oldest and closest friends and I are not speaking to each other because we cannot give the other what other needs.

While I’m attempting to practice independent stability, she is plunging into the single life of online dating. On two recent vacations we took together, she expected me to engage in one-night stands with her since I was still technically single. However, those reckless habits of my youth are no longer desirable or interesting to me.

To be fair, I’ve slept with at least five times the number of people she has. There are only so many notches on my bedposts I can make before it splinters into kindling. I’m in my mid-thirties (oh God, where has the time gone), and I’ve banged enough hot guys and girls to finish out my days with lustful memories and no regrets. My oats are sown.

Although I would like to be supportive, I need to be true to myself and my needs. I feel bad that she is still reeling from a breakup and is in emotional turmoil over her ex being with someone new, but I can’t be the slutty friend she wants me to be.

Additionally, after two years of being on her emotional roller-coaster and consoling her with, “That dick! How could he?!”, I’m exhausted and sick to my stomach from the drama. I can only sympathize, not empathize, with her pain and feelings since I move on from old relationships more quickly. Most of my exes are married with kids or, at least, in long-term relationships with someone they live with. I grieve and then I move on.

I don’t know if our friendship will ever recover (and I’m sure writing this for the public will not help), but I wish her the best and hope she returns to the healthy, independent, bad-ass bitch I know her to be. In this case, I am the bad friend. I am distancing myself because I feel like I am in a different place in my life. But I can’t apologize for putting myself first and working on my mental well-being.

3.) Blunt Endings

The best, yet most awkward, way to move on from any type of relationship is to have a conversation about it. While the prospect may seem daunting, it leaves neither party in a state of limbo wondering about the other. It is painful, but it is concise.

As someone who has a long history of anxiety and depression, I found a therapist who was accepting new patients after relocating to Tennessee. But before our first session, she rescheduled my appointment three times with the following reasons:

  • “I have been up with a stomach bug and fever most of the night can we reschedule please?”
  • “My father had a heart attack this morning and I have to go to VA.”
  •  “My dad passed away early this morning.”

These, especially the last two, are all legitimate grounds for rescheduling an appointment. After a month of deterred appointments, I had my first session with her. However, she had to change our second session due to a flight delay. I’m still curious as to why she had booked an appointment on the day she was to return from a trip.

Our second session, which was in the morning, felt as productive as talking to a wall. She had little feedback between yawning, and although therapy is there to help you help yourself, I would have had the same experience speaking to my dog.

She messaged me two hours before our third appointment to tell me that she no longer had space at the office where we met and would need to reschedule as well as change the location. Then, on the day of that appointment, she messaged me again to tell me that she had been up all night sick and running a fever and would, again, need to reschedule. I texted back:

“I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. However, this is the sixth time you have needed to reschedule on the day of an appointment. I need someone more consistent and I’m afraid this isn’t working for me and I am discontinuing our session. Thank you for your time and I hope you feel better.”

With that message, I addressed the problem, how it made me feel, and the actions that would be taken thereafter. She never responded.

Not to sound like the privileged white woman that I am but I have to let someone go if they are not performing the services for which I pay them. This is a feeling a extend to other relationships in my life. While it may not be cash in hand, I am paying people with my time, devotion, and love in some cases.

Why It’s Okay to Say Goodbye & Good Riddance

I’ve been accused of treating a boyfriend like an investment by weighing his current value and future prospects. I’ve also dismissed acquaintances because they seemingly didn’t contribute anything or weren’t worth the time and effort. I can be very cold and pragmatic.

However, this Ice Queen mentality stems from a lifetime of wasted time. How often have you thought, “I gave him my good years” or “I wish re-do my life with what I know now”?

While we can’t turn back the hands on the clock, we can take those lessons learned to avoid the same mistakes in the future. Our lives are finite and we can’t jeopardize the time we’re given on people not worth the effort or consideration we give them. But it’s not a one-way street. We too can be the “bad” friend or lover and be cast aside.

I’ve been rejected by friends more times than I have dropped others. The trick is not to take it personally. Sometimes relationships just don’t work out and there’s no single person to blame. People aren’t easily classified as villains or victims. We’re complicated, we grow, and our situations change.

There are billions of humans on this planet, and I can almost guarantee you that less than half would like you if they knew you. But then there is the other half of society that thinks you’re kinda cool. Find your tribe.

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