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confronted over "culling" a friend, how to respond?

(112 Posts)
baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:03:17

In the past I have been pretty blunt about ending friendships, and regret the burning bridges approach, it would be nice to back away from someone without being so brutal and final about it

anyway that is what I've been trying to do lately, and it's not easy, but generally people get the gentle hint but stay on "hello" terms and it's okay

but I've just been texted by someone I used to be very close to but wanted to back away from. I don't want to cut all contact/burn bridges, that would be sad because we were close in the past but the truth is I don't think we like each other in the present tense and I think that's mutual, yet we still get our kids gifts, get each other expensive gifts at christmas and birthdays and generally behave like we're still the best buds we're quite obviously not!

So what have I been doing?
- Caring a bit less, still chatty but I don't open my soul for it to be criticised and mocked and perhaps some of our recent news has got to her via facebook/other people
- I've done the birthday present thing this time because due to timing (i.e. her just having given me loads for mine) it would have been too blunt to stop all together, but it was cheap and tokeney - however we are stoney broke and it would have been anyway but she doesn't understand "broke" - she's one of those people who don't count their savings when they complain about having no money IYKWIM
- just hoped to fizzle it away a little without being hurtful and never speaking again

now she's texted to say that she's noticed that our friendship has changed and she's sorry if she's not the friend I want her to be.

I don't know how to respond
Old me would either not respond say "yeah well I don't really want you in my life any more" and deleted her number and deleted her off facebook etc and we would never speak again and it would be shitty for mutual friends or if we passed each other on the street
I don't want to do the old me way!
I don't want to "fix" our friendship either - Its not like we fell out over an incident, I don't really like her, there's no big elephant in the room though
Not responding would be quite final too IMO?

I'm new to trying to move away from people in a more gentle way! please help how do I respond in a vague but amicable way?

Greensleeves Mon 26-Nov-12 14:24:53

ok then I was reading too much into your OP, sorry.

BarbaraBar Mon 26-Nov-12 14:25:24

How about relying on that "It's not you, it's me" thing? After all, it's true-ish and also allows you to walk away from the friendship without hurting her more than you have to.

Perhaps you could say that you've got a lot going on at the moment and you just want to focus on yourself/your family and you don't have what it takes at the moment to be a great friend so you'd like to bow out for a while.

Flimflammery Mon 26-Nov-12 14:25:44

I had a lightbulb moment where I realised that she isn't NICE to me and actually hasn't been for years
In that case you could say something like, 'I've realised that I don't think our friendship is very positive for either of us, and maybe it's time to back off a bit'?

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:27:08

its not intense lostgirl, its just "going through the motions" "for old times sake" and all those cliches, based on the friendship we used to have, that we both enjoyed

she honestly does not speak to me like someone whose company she enjoys, which is why the text is odd and I don't know how to reply, yet she still does all the motions of being close like the gifts and invites to everything and I don't think its benefitting either of us

but who knows mabye if we stop faking and quitely LET the old friendship go, we might find the newer us and get along properly in the future, but that's never going to happen if she makes a big deal about the friendship as it is fizzling IYKWIM

Mintyy Mon 26-Nov-12 14:30:58

You could say "Yes, I do feel differently. Its because you used xx confidence against me and I feel you are a bit too critical to be a good friend to me. You probably don't realise you are doing it but it is negativity that I don't need in my life atm. We have been great mates in the past and I am grateful for that, but I feel like I have moved on now. Sorry."

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:31:09

"I don't think that you sound very nice OP - you don't want to close the door on this friendship because 'I sometimes miss them'."
I don't want to close the door in a way that makes it awkward for us to even bump into each other in the future, I don't know how best to do this which is why I'm asking
I want to move it from best friends to friendly aquaintances - that's better for both of us and everyone in between surely?

"I can honestly say that I have never had to drop a friend in my life - while life moves on, people rarely change so much that you used to like them but now you don't."
but this is exactly what I want to do! I want to move on, be people who had a good time together in the past, but don't have to keep acting like we're in the same place! In the least hurtful way!

Hobbitation Mon 26-Nov-12 14:35:01

First thing- I would drop the present buying.

toomuchmonthatendofthemoney Mon 26-Nov-12 14:35:14

Minty reply above is very good.

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:36:08

minty I can't point it back to one incident, there was no one big thing, just a lightbulb moment that there were a lot of little nasty things, each on their own sound petty and not worth ending the whole friendship on, its more the total sum of it if that makes sense

and TBH what's the point in going into the ins and outs if its not with the end goal of clearing the air and fixing things.

I just want this woman to be someone I'm on friendly aquaintance terms with rather than pretending to be good friends, or actually having a fall out and there being bad feeling forever more

adeucalione Mon 26-Nov-12 14:37:41

Maybe she is 'making a big deal about the friendship as it is fizzling' because she cares about the friendship, and is hurt by your changing attitude.

I wonder whether it has occurred to you that most people simply don't decide to cull a friendship, unless the friend has done something awful.

Maybe you could have had a grown up discussion about stopping the presents, without offending her by sending tat, and then just gradually withdrawn from the invitations.

The first two paragraphs of your OP do make it sound like you have had to do this many times, despite you since saying that you have only done it three times in your life.

Mintyy Mon 26-Nov-12 14:38:29

Ok, not sure what you want from Mumsnet then?

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:39:55

Hobbitation I agree and had decided that last time was the last time, it was just that the timing was where she had just given me one and mine was more a token (similar to bottle of wine) rather than be empty handed IYKWIM

Everyone has friends that they were closer to in the past than they are now, I just am not very good at backing away without it being a big obvious deal and turning horrible. I KNOW I am rubbish at going from friend to aquaintance and some people are better at it and I want to learn how to do it!

Last time I was spending a lot of time with someone who wasn't good for me I managed it, but this time it's going wrong confused

FushiaFernica Mon 26-Nov-12 14:46:53

The message does sound like she is concerned about your friendship. As you still want to be on friendly terms with her I wouldn't advise bringing up the fact that she has been critical of you. I would just say that we used to be close and have now drifted apart as we got older and say you still want to keep in touch (even if at this time you don't feel that way.) You never know you may feel differently about her at a later stage.

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:47:51

"The first two paragraphs of your OP do make it sound like you have had to do this many times, despite you since saying that you have only done it three times in your life."

well 4 times in my life FEELS like a lot to me, because its unpleasant and a big deal to me to realise that someone in your "inner circle" is actually being shit to/for you! and one in particular still hurts like hell years on, I really couldn't go on with things the way they were and at the time was so worn down by it all I could do to protect myself was to withdraw completely from contact, but now I wish there was some scope to be at least able to say "hello" if we met on the street we knew each other since we were babies. Everyone around thinks I put up with way too much before finally "culling" her, but I really didn't want to loose my oldest friend, she might have been manipulative and destructive but we grew up together and it was a lot to throw away IYWIM

no.2 - we actually DID get back in touch after years of nothing, there's nothing there TBH we prob wont ever be friends again but its nice that mutual friends do not feel awkward any more. That "cull" was 10 years ago BTW.

then no 3, recent ish, someone I spent A LOT of time with but it wasn't good so now we just see each other about and chat about the kids then get on with our shopping IYKWIM - I'm happy about that!

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 14:50:23

"Ok, not sure what you want from Mumsnet then"
tips on how to make the outcome of "downgrading" friendship no4 so the outcome is the same as ex friendship no3 not 1 or 2

Thought I could do it but the up front text threw me

Mintyy Mon 26-Nov-12 14:56:58

Oh just tell her the truth for heaven's sake.

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 15:10:12

what good would that do anyone minty?. The truth is I don't think we like each other at the moment. if the truth was that I was pissed off about X incident then either she could explain why she thought she wasn't BU and defend herself, or apologise or we could agree to disagree.. then maybe carry on as we were before.

It doesn't seem right to say "yeah you're right I don't like you, bye", there must be a better way without lying and saying 'NOOOO everythings fine! I don't know what you're talking about!"

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 15:13:07

anyway thanks all, this thread has helped me decide, I'm going with Selks approach, because its true, but not getting into a pointless "cause you said this then you said that then blah blah blah". I really don't see the point in flinging mud at this stage.

AThingInYourLife Mon 26-Nov-12 15:49:52

I think if you ditch friends so frequently that you need a policy on how to do it that the problem is with you.

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 16:05:24

very helpful AThing confused now do you have any suggestions about solutions to the problem?

or did you just come onto "relationships", where people tend to post when they have problems they need perspective on, just to say "you obviously have a problem" - err yeah I wouldn't be posting in this section if I thought I'd always handled things perfectly in the past and didn't need to improve on how I dealt with this sort of thing!

quietlysuggests Mon 26-Nov-12 16:08:58

Are you a teenager perhaps, around 13 or 14? That might make it easier for us to understand your dilemma.

Lovingfreedom Mon 26-Nov-12 16:21:22

If I were you I'd just back off a bit and see how it goes. IME it's more usual to drift away from friends over the years and sometimes drift back at some point but sometimes not. Sometimes they move away, you move, someone has a new partner, someone's single, someone has children, new jobs that are less convenient to meet up etc etc. I've personally never needed to actually cull a friendship. I find that an odd concept. If she's done something awful to you and you want to sort it out then do that. If you've just gone off her, then just take a step out and get on with life without her. I really don't think that sending her a critical message like the one suggested above is a good idea. It's just unpleasant and unnecessary.

AlienRefluxLooksLikeSnow Mon 26-Nov-12 16:21:25

I think this has happened to one of my friends and I'm sad gutted actually, she backed away completely and I have no idea why, we were really close, but I would never ask her, cos have a feeling she feels similar to you, not that I was ever critical of her or anything, I was a really good mate, and now can't work out what went wrong.
Sorry no advice really, but if she is sooooo toxic, does it really matter if you 'burn your bridges' on this one?

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 16:22:12

perhaps you are quietlysuggests? A 13/14 year old may not have the life experience to understand how someone could get into a cycle of gift giving and regular exchange of invites etc with someone who they were close to once, but with whom they no longer enjoy having in their lives so much? as a 13/14 year old you might think that your BFF now will still be your BFF when you are decades older and you have kids and husbands and different lives and you will still want to exchange friendship bracelets and talk every day, but sometimes relationships change and you realise that it is not actually benefitting anyone involved, quite the opposite in fact.

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 16:36:52

"If I were you I'd just back off a bit and see how it goes"
that's what I was going for, but then was put on the spot with a text about it

"Sorry no advice really, but if she is sooooo toxic, does it really matter if you 'burn your bridges' on this one?"
we were an important part of each other's lives when we were younger, I personally believe (she may feel differently) that the toxicity stems from trying to fit a square peg (how we both are now), into a round hole (what our friendship WAS like). It didn't evolve as we went through life and changed and we have nothing in common NOW. I think I frustrate her because I'm not 20something me and we don't have our 20something friendship any more and I'm not even sure if she realised it.
With space and time we might get to know each other in our own right for the people we are now and have a different friendship, we might not, but that can't happen if we continue to be "old times" friends.
- I think her confronting me has prevented that from happening TBH sad

I really am struggling to believe that my backing off is such a shock to her, our time together of late has not been fun or particularly pleasant and everything I say obviously rubs her up the wrong way now.

I don't want to out myself too much, but I did reply along selks lines, and her reply back had lots of "you"s and examples in it IYKWIM, so I am now more inclined to believe that she also feels like ending things as they are, but while I wanted to do it quietly and gently and without slamming a door in her face, she wants to fall out and do it that way! oh well! I really don't see the point in going over "you said""but you said" unless it's to clear the air and be friends again. What would be the good in me listing all the things that I disliked about recent times spent with her? she would be upset and offended and we'd still not be friends

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