“I’m just ready to go home”.
That was all it took for a friend to remove himself from a road trip across North America that we’d been planning for over a year, and with it the friendship we’d cultivated over the years effectively ended. Not through any malice or purpose, rather it was just a clean break where good mates stopped being mates at all.
When it comes to relationships, the concept of a break up is nothing new. Once two people reach the point where they can no longer give anything to help the growth of the other the relationship ends. Yet where friends are concerned there is an unspoken awkwardness and taboo surrounding the concept of letting go. If it’s good enough to say goodbye to a boyfriend, why isn’t it OK to say goodbye to a man friend?
Let’s get one thing straight, we’re not talking about a toxic friendship. A toxic connection asks more of one side than it does the other, and you should have no qualms about cutting those from your life like carbs from a fad diet. What we’re talking about here is a healthy friendship, full of memories (or lack thereof if the friendship was built on black out nights at the pub), that reaches a point when it is no longer necessary.
“No longer necessary?!” I hear you ask. “Why would a healthy friendship need an expiry date?” Once we remove the stigma associated with the break of a friendship this really doesn’t seem such an alien concept at all.
Take a job you’ve loved for example. You’ve worked in a bar for years, you know the names of the locals, you’ve caught people having sex in the bathroom and you tell people you make a killer Martini even though no one really does. At a certain point you’ve learnt everything you can from that job, you’ve grown as far as it will allow you and the only way to keep growing is to leave it behind and find something new.
Does that strategy really seem any different when applied to a friend? You’ve spent wonderful memories with them, and grown as a person, but to keep growing you need space to explore new opportunities. It’s not sad, it’s not even strange, it’s just life.
Taking control of your own direction as far as friendship goes is empowering and will actually help you achieve the goals you set for yourself. Case in point, if you’ve been a big drinker but you’re looking to kick the booze and head a new direction, then leaving behind a mate who only wants to party isn’t just acceptable, but totally healthy. The inverse is true as well, if you’re a clean skin and you’re looking to develop a serious cocaine addiction* then feel no shame in saying goodbye to a sober friendship to head a new direction.
Ultimately, you have free will and you can do whatever the fuck you want, so the attitude you have towards your friendships is totally up to you. At the end of the day if it feels right in your life then pursue it. If that means holding on to friendships for life that’s fine, if it means moving on from friendships and looking for something new that’s fine too. The most important thing to remember is that there is no shame in moving on from a friendship, if anything it is the ultimate sign of a friendship done so right it can do no more.
And hey, if friendships can end like relationships, then they can reconnect too. So worst case scenario you send a 3am drunk booty friend text to your mate and find yourself doing the walk of shame the next day holding a copy of FIFA and a box of half eaten pizza.
Also for any of my mates reading this, I appreciate you checking out my article, but we’re done, I just didn’t know how to tell you.
*Don’t develop a cocaine addiction. Just do it sporadically, it’s much more fun.
Image: Alex Jack
Alexander Porter is a 27 year old with a degree from Sydney University. Getting it in a frame is on his 30 before Thirty list. He has a Back to the Future tattoo and is available for party hire. When Alex isn't writing he is watching his beloved St George Dragons let him down, drinking flavoured milk and planning new travel adventures. You can follow him on instagram @alexander_le_great