When I Knew It Was Time to Let Go of a Long Term Friendship

One of my closest friendships just ended. For a really long time, she was my person, my safe place, the one I’d go to when things got really hard and I needed to vent. I was always there for her too. Or at least that’s what she told me.

We were thankful for each other for a long time. Our relationship felt healthy, and we both put equal effort into making the friendship work.

I noticed things change around fifteen years ago, but I chalked it up to us being in different places in our lives. Still, it bothered me when she stopped calling as often and when she always said she was just too busy to talk when I called her. Then suddenly she would come around and once again be available. We’d make plans to see each other and everything would go back to the way it was. 

It was time for me to walk away from my friend. Trying to force a friendship isn’t healthy for anyone. (Shutterstock fizkes)

I wondered if I was being too sensitive

For years I told myself that I was too sensitive and that she just had a lot going on. But, her hot and cold behavior really bothered me. I tried to act like everything was fine because I didn’t want to burden her. I didn’t want our friendship to be difficult for her.

There were times we’d go months without talking. She’d say that she’d call but she wouldn’t. I’d send her a text to see if she was all right, and I wouldn’t hear back from her for weeks or longer. As a working mom, I was busy too. But I always made time for her because she was important to me.

I always rearranged my life to adjust to her schedule

I was over-functioning; rearranging my life so much that it would stress me out just so I could adjust to her schedule. Our views on a lot of things were different and instead of saying how I felt about what was happening in the news, politics, or how we raised our kids so differently, I’d listen to her opinions but keep mine to myself.

I felt like a needy friend who was always available to her, and I realized she got used to me being that way and treated me as such. I asked her a few times if she was upset with me or if I’d done anything wrong and she’d always say the same thing, that she was just busy. 

I stopped reaching out and being available to her all the time

So, a few years ago I let it go. I stopped calling her. I stopped texting to check in. I stopped being so available and invested in other friendships because as much as I hated to admit it, being friends with her was lonely. My partner and others told me that they thought the way she treated me was wrong. 

I was sad and I missed her, but it felt good not to force something. After some time she came around and I figured she just needed space and I should have given her long ago. But I also noticed how much happier I was to not get myself upset and not to have to chase her friendship.

We all get busy, but we choose where and when to put in effort and that includes which friendships we nurture and which we jettison. And let’s be real, texting someone back takes less than ten seconds. No matter who you are, it hurts to be ignored. It just felt better not to put myself in that position any longer. 

After a disagreement I decided to let the relationship go

After I stopped putting in so much effort, she started putting in more and we found our groove again. Then, we had a disagreement when I finally voiced my opinion about something that was important to me. She didn’t agree with what I said. We had two conversations after the argument, both initiated by me where I apologized and told her I didn’t mean to upset her, but I wanted her to know where I stand.

After that, I let the friendship sink. I completely stepped away and decided it was time, once and for all, to let it go. I didn’t “break up” with her or tell her I didn’t want to be her friend. It wasn’t anything that that final.

I simply decided it was time to just move on and not put in any more effort. We’d been friends for a really long time, and we’d both changed. We’d both changed enough that our friendship didn’t work anymore. And that’s okay.

I will always be thankful for the friendship that was

I feel lucky to have had her in my life, and I’m thankful for the times we had together. But trying to force a friendship, or anything for that matter, just because you’ve invested a certain amount of time into it isn’t healthy for anyone.  

And sometimes it’s important to shift, to let go and to make space for new things to come into your life.

For me, for us, this is one of those times. As hard as it is, it feels right. 

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous

More Great Reading:

What We Can Learn from Childhood Friendships: I’ll Always Have Laura

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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