‘Dear Lala, how do I break up with my best friend of 20 years?’

In Lalalaletmeexplain’s hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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Dear Lala,

How do I deal with outgrowing my longest friendship? I have been friends with a woman I used to love for over twenty years, but as we’ve gotten older, I just don’t feel the same connection with her anymore.

Our lives have taken drastically different paths and we now have nothing in common. She’s not my kind of person anymore and I feel under a lot of pressure from her to keep the friendship going when I don’t want to.

“Our lives have taken drastically different paths”

She has done absolutely nothing wrong. But being around her is such a huge effort now and leaves me feeling drained for days. She’s a wonderful person, but she is a super sloppy drunk (which was fine when we were 18 but we’re in our 40’s now) and is super brash and loud.

It makes me feel terrible to admit to it, but I don’t like being around her, especially in public. The last time I saw her she got plastered and would just scream and laugh hysterically at nothing and if I asked her what she was laughing at, she just didn’t respond. This is a small part of it, we also have nothing in common and completely different world views and interests.

She has two lovely children and a nice husband, and our lives are just as different as you can get. She loves me fiercely, this along with the loyalty of having been friends for so long that make me feel like a terrible person for wanting to cut the friendship. I feel exhausted whenever I spend any time with her – we don’t vibe anymore. I could never tell her any of this because she would be so hurt. Am I a terrible person? I need advice.

"I feel exhausted whenever I spend any time with her - we don't vibe anymore"
“I feel exhausted when I spend time with her – we don’t vibe anymore”

Lala says…

You are NOT a terrible person! Making friends with someone doesn’t mean that you are now tied to them for life and obliged to continue the friendship for as long as they want you to.

Much like intimate relationships, we can end them whenever they no longer serve us well. ‘BFFs for life’ is a concept that makes sense when you’re 15, but as you move into adulthood things change, we change, and it is normal to outgrow people who you once felt completely aligned with.

"'BFFs for life' is a concept that makes sense when you're 15, but as you move into adulthood things change"
“‘BFFs for life’ is a concept that makes sense when you’re 15, but as you move into adulthood things change”

It’s a horrible situation though and I completely understand why you feel guilty. I once had a friend who I really loved but who became very draining after a while. She was just too much, and I actually got the ick (it can happen with friends too!).

Being around her made me feel uncomfortable, she had done nothing wrong, she was a lovely person, I just couldn’t stand her. I took what some might say is the coward’s way out. I pretended to be busy when she suggested meeting, I took days to reply to messages, and eventually she got the message and the friendship fizzled out. I felt awful about it, and my stomach still knots when I think about it 15 years later.

Ghosting a friend, or fizzling them out, is similarly as cruel as doing it to someone you are dating (possibly even more cruel). I was once ghosted by a friend and to this day I have no idea why. It still makes me a bit confused when I think about it. But you know, maybe knowing might have been worse.

"Ghosting a friend, or fizzling them out, is similarly as cruel as doing it to someone you are dating"
“Ghosting a friend is as cruel as doing it to someone you are dating”

Perhaps if she said ‘I just don’t like you as a person anymore’ or ‘It’s draining to be around you’ I might have had an existential crisis and questioned my whole personality. I had to accept that she had her reasons, and to be honest, I haven’t missed her. It’s made no difference to my life.

I don’t think that fizzling it out is the best way to go but, I also don’t think you would be an evil person if you did. Ultimately, this friendship has become toxic for you and if that’s the only way you can face ending it then so be it. Though it would obviously be far kinder if you could find the words to tell her that this is not working for you anymore.

I think that doing it via message rather than face to face is the easiest and kindest way to do it. It is important to consider her feelings and to choose your words carefully. Perhaps you could say something along the lines of ‘I am sorry to have to do this, but over the last few years I feel like we have drifted apart and grown in different directions and our friendship doesn’t feel like it’s healthy for me anymore ‘.

She’s either going to press for more answers, tell you to go f**k yourself, make you feel guilty, or accept it gracefully. Expect the worst and respect the fact that this is going to be a hurtful shock. Prepare yourself in advance for how you might respond to her reaction. If she becomes abusive you are well within your rights to block her.

However you choose to do it, it will certainly not be easy. You are going to feel like a monster, especially if she is very upset. But eventually I think it will feel like a relief. And it’s far kinder to her to end the friendship than it is to continue to hang out with her whilst thinking ‘I hate being around you’. I’d be mortified if someone felt like that about me. I’d want them to let me go. Respect her by being honest.

Follow @Lalalalalatemeexplain on Instagram for more advice on sex and relationships.

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