On Facebook, all you have to do is press a button. Simple. But what to do when you feel the need to ‘defriend’ a person you no longer feel connected to in real life?
Some no-longer-wanted friendships just whirl from the tree like autumn leaves. You don’t call back a few times, you don’t respond to invitations, and sooner or later the other person takes the hint and leaves you alone. When you bump into each other in the street, a friendly nod or a wave is enough. It’s not the bravest method, but it works.
Telling some one to the face that you’re breaking it off is braver. But it’s also tricky. You don’t want to get into an argument. A conflict entangles you, while all you want is to let go, be free.
The secret to a goodbye conversation exists from three do’s: be present, stick to your own story, and be clear.
When you’re grounded, you’re in the here and now. Feel your feet on the floor, your bum on the chair. Feel your body and be aware of your feelings, of the cramp in your stomach, the lump in your throat, your tense muscles. This awareness increases the chance of you keeping track of the situation and prevents you from getting distracted or confused.
Stick to your own story
Avoid judging the other person. So instead of telling them about what they are doing wrong (in your opinion), explain what you want for yourself. The way you want to live, the way you want to be. Be as positive as you can. ‘I want to focus on inner peace.’ ‘Lately, I’ve been very focused on my own growth. I don’t get a lot of satisfaction out of talking about other people.’
The key is not to let others tempt you into judging. Everyone can lead the life they want to. Other people evidently need to do what they do, to go through their own process, to learn their own lessons. As swami Vivekananda said: Your path is good for you, but not for me. My path is good for me, but not for you. In other words: they don’t have to change or quicken their growth for you. You’re moving on without them and wish them the best on their path.
Make sure your intentions are clear. Don’t expect excuses, compliments or peace offerings and don’t go into them. Of course, it’s possible that the other person is genuinely interested in what you’re telling them, and wants to grow with you. If you’re not sure whether to trust this, you can tell them you need some time and they’ll hear from you when you’re ready. But try to be open to the possibility that your brave action is an opening to another kind of friendship – deeper, wiser, more authentic. You never know.
Text: Lisette Thooft - Photo: Christoph Peich