Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

When a Friendship Ends (The Text Version)

A few readers who couldn’t view my video, “When a Friendship Ends,” asked if I would write out the content in a text post. Here you go:
Friendships are a lot like marriages in that some are healthy and some are toxic, or unhealthy. But you sound pretty ridiculous explaining to people why you are sad: “Man, I just broke up with a friend, and it’s really painful.” But that is, in essence, what you are doing, and it needs to be treated the same way as a romantic relationship or marriage ending: with a lot of support and nurturing. As friendships develop and evolve, some don’t have all the right ingredients to last. So it’s right and natural that some break. But that period after the split is so awkward, for both people: the breaker-upper, or the breaker-uppee. I’ve sat in both seats.
I love the way Anne Morrow Lindbergh talks about friendships in her classic, “Gift from the Sea.” She writes:


I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.

I love that. Because I’m trying to be more sincere in my relationships. And as I do that I’m finding that some aren’t as healthy as I thought. The only requirement lately that I’ve been asking myself is this: Do I feel empowered by this relationship? Or do I feel deflated? After having coffee or lunch with this person, do I feel better about myself? Does this person build me up? Or do I feel worse about myself? Does this person in some way take away from me?
When I ask that question it reveals to me whether the relationship is toxic or healthy.
Yesterday I was having a discussion with one of my friends about a friendship with which I’m frustrated, and she made a point that helped me understand why some of my relationships can’t be healthy. She said, “It’s hard to be in a true, loving, mutual friendship with a person who is so wounded that they can’t reciprocate the love and the support.”
Understood in that perspective, I feel less jaded, less hurt, by the person. I just know that she or he is so wounded that they can’t act in any other way. It’s not possible for them to be in a mutual loving relationship. Their wounds get in the way.
I’m going to close by reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s excerpt again, because I find it so empowering:


I shall ask into my shell only those friends with whom I can be completely honest. I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.

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  • Gianna

    this makes me think of one of the points often made in Buddhist literature which is kind of an extension of the 8 fold path…
    Right company. Which translate into what you speak of…do the people you spend time with lift you up, make you grow and challenge you in healthy ways or not??
    The 8 fold path otherwise contains:
    1. Right View
    2. Right Intention
    3. Right Speech
    4. Right Action
    5. Right Livelihood
    6. Right Effort
    7. Right Mindfulness
    8. Right Concentration
    thanks, nice thoughts.

  • Larry Parker

    There is a darker side to this, of course. The combination of our innate sensitivity and vulnerability means we are more likely to have predators invite themselves into our lives under the guise of “friendship.”
    It’s happened to me. And unfortunately I’m sure it’s happened to a lot of members of the BB community.

  • Barbara Bowman

    It’s interesting that I came across this today after seeing my counselor. I spent a lot of time talking about how hard it is to make much progress right now because I don’t trust myself, and in spite of all the love God has shown me, I have an awfully hard time trusting Him. It’s *my* wounds that hold me back from a loving relationship with God. Yet I need to be able to love and trust God, in order to get through the place I am right now. It is a difficult place to stay for very long.

  • Online Dating

    Very nice.

  • symonds

    Very nice.

    Online Dating

  • Some One

    Again, I have found some answers to my long term questions of why people leave. The concept that it relates to the idea of divorce is not as neat as I might like. Divorce has at least a middle and an end – the beginnings are often fuzzy. Not warm and fuzzy – just unclear.
    There should be (in my fantasy world) a ceremony for friendships ending so you can understand what happened and end the eternal “wha’ hoppened’? that stirs the pain and the keeps the wound open and festering.
    And then the healing can begin as we move on to new friends we have yet to meet.

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