The unofficial relationship handbook describes multiple ways to break up with a significant other: via Facebook relationship statuses, texts, instant messages and Post-it notes.
But when it comes to friends, there isn’t much literature about how to go about ending a relationship. When two friends have an argument, they deal with the matter alone. Most people aren’t pushing them to stay friends or to go to therapy to work toward reconciliation.
But when the issue is about a love interest, friends and family are on the sidelines calling the shots and encouraging both parties to work things out. So how do you know when a relationship with a friend is worth fighting for or if it’s time to let go?
Many students said losing touch with old friends has become a part of the natural cycle of growing up and moving on to different stages of life, such as college.
“I try to make an effort [to keep in touch], but it’s definitely hard and it gets harder every year,” said Steven Kim, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism.
Rather than going home and seeing friends, many students relied on the Internet during spring break to keep up with their friends’ lives.
“I went on the trip with people from ’SC, so I didn’t get a chance to meet up with a lot of people,” Kim said.
Some students said they view college as an adequate excuse for ending a friendship from before that they were unsatisfied with. Others said with all the focus they put into their studies, they do not have the time to talk to old friends.
“I’m in school, and I have to study to get my grades,” said Jac’Quez Page, a freshman majoring in psychology. “If you can’t be OK with that, then we just can’t be friends.”
For those who have ended friendships on bad terms in the past, students unanimously recommended the same advice for those who might deal with failing friendships in the future.
“Be totally honest. If somebody wants an answer about why you’re not talking to them … answer even if it’s not totally positive,” said Sharon Louisell, a senior majoring in sociology. “At least just give an honest answer so that person won’t be left in the dark.”
Louisell said a friend “broke up” with her unexpectedly by refusing to answer her phone calls or reply to her messages. By informing friends about their worries or unhappiness, Louisell said students might have a chance to salvage their relationship.
“You just become an enemy if you’re not helping them,” she said.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed several celebrities who had falling outs. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, and Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter ended valuable friendships because they could not resolve their issues.
The article offers several pieces of advice for those who are considering ending a friendship. It recommends giving yourself time to calm down before approaching a friend. The article advises that, as in marriages, friends should try a temporary separation because they might realize they want to get back together. In order to spare a friend’s feelings, people are urged to make up excuses why they cannot make time for a friend. Confrontation or an ultimatum should be a last resort for fear that the friendship might end forever.
A friendship certainly won’t last forever unless both parties make a little effort. Facebook is great for busy weeks like during midterms and finals, but without communication via telephone, video chatting or in-person meetings, students will not be able to keep their valued friendships.
Although the Wall Street Journal article makes some valid points, I ultimately agree with students when they assert that honesty is the best policy.
Without keeping friends in the know, we cannot expect them to understand why a friendship is ending. However, for those who agree that growing apart is an element of our natural progression, no confrontation is necessary.
Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose.
Danielle Nisimov is a sophomore majoring in public relations. Her column “On The SCene” runs Thursdays.