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When Friendships End

In the final episode of season 3 of The GenTwenty Podcast, Nicole and Marina discuss what it’s like when friendships end as an adult.

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This transcript has been gently edited for clarity.

Nicole Booz: Welcome back to the GenTwenty podcast I’m Nicole…

Marina Crouse: And I’m Marina! And today we’re talking about friendships ending. We talk a lot about friendships how to make friendships how to maintain adult friendships but we haven’t talked about how sometimes they end so today Nicole and I are just sitting down and sharing our experiences and our philosophies behind. The end of friendships.

Nicole Booz: Yeah I think we’ve all experienced like friendships ending in some way right? like whether we drift apart. It’s a you know hard breakup of a friendship or you know you’re ghosted by your friend. Okay, that happens you know and I think it can be really hard in a lot of ways. 

Marina Crouse: It is I think for so long. Our friendships are very circumstantial right? So the friendships we have as kids are people were like living living literally living near stutter much there you go? 

And when you get to college you can pick you like make new friends but you’re still depending on the size of school you go to? you’re still in like a kind of curated pool of applicants so to speak and so by the time you’re an adult. You maybe have kept friends from your childhood from high school from college and then you’re making new friends and then that but your pool of people you’re meeting is so different and you’re all, you’re all coming together at different places.

So when I moved to l a I immediately clicked with this one woman who this is a happy ending I feel like I’m like prepping it. We’re still friends but I immediately clicked with this one woman who is like 10 years older than me and we. Happened to be at a networking event and we sat next to each other and we’re just chit chatting and realized we lived near each other so we took the train home together so we could continue to continue talking and our lives are so different but we had such.

 Important commonalities that she became one of my closest friends in such a short amount of time I’d never bonded with someone so quickly. But on the ah like on the other side of things when I was living in a different town I was friends with someone that I knew through work and I enjoyed her company.

For the most part but we were both kind of going through emotionally hard times and as our friendship progressed I realized it was not a good fit like I was not my best self I was actually a terrible friend to her because I couldn’t be what she needed and she was. Taking out her feelings about life on me and I had to have like a sit down conversation with her which of course was over text message because that’s how millennials communicate but I had to I essentially had to break up with her and it was so bizarre because I had never had a friendship end like that. Usually they just you know you moved to college or you moved out of state and you don’t stay in touch so that was a really I think hard hard but important process where I. Learned I had to communicate what I needed in a friendship because I couldn’t I couldn’t show up and like let myself down every day by being a poor friend to her.

And I and I couldn’t live in that uncertainty of like oh is she gonna be mad at me today but did I do something did I forget to do something.

Nicole Booz: Yeah I think that’s really stressful and I think we have to remember that friendships are 2 wo-way streets and they are truly you know relationships like both people are bringing something to the table to the relationship.

And it’s like we had a conversation with Dr Carla Manly a few weeks that came out a few weeks ago when we’re recording this. It’s actually this week but she said that it’s like we all bring something to the relationship and it’s like we also need to figure out what we need from the relationship and sometimes it’s just not a good fit and like that’s okay, like it’s okay for people to move on and for me I did have a friendship in college with one of my college roommates and like we were good friends before we became roommates and then we became roommates and then um, she like we were you know all kind of like having like meeting new friends and like meeting new people and like one day she was like it was like me and another friend were like in our dorm room and we were like oh let’s go do this [activity] and she I guess ended up being really upset that we didn’t invite her and I was very confused because I was like you weren’t even here like it wasn’t something we were planning to do and like leaving you out of we just like it was this spontaneous thing but she was like very hurt by it and then I was just like trying to explain myself like I don’t but like why am I trying to explain myself to you like this is just something that happened like no one was trying to hurt your feelings by leaving you out.

So after that I tried to make more of an effort to like invite her to things but like she would sometimes go do things like with our other friends and then tell me about it later and I was like that’s great I’m glad you had fun like it literally didn’t offend me at all. So I feel like that’s just an example of how sometimes things with your friends like aren’t in alignment and that’s just like I mean it’s okay that it’s that way.

Marina Crouse: Here here.

Yeah I think that ah that idea of alignment is really important in friendships. Especially as you grow as an adult because you’re like like you know you’re married, a mom of 2 boys. We were just talking about how hectic your schedule is just surrounding the boys’ activities. It’s so hard to make time for yourself. Let alone friendships and I think there needs to be a level of alignment where people can understand where you’re coming from even if you aren’t in the same place of your life.

Like I am not married and I don’t have children and it does not affect our friendship because I know where you are in your life and you know where I am in my life and we meet each other in the middle. But I think I was talking about it with another friend of mine who was saying she was realizing in her 30s some of her friends were no longer in alignment and she was trying to decide like what to do about it and it’s like it’s that age old question of like all right? Well do you ghost them? Do you drift away. Do you just like stop like making an effort or do you have a hard breakup conversation with them and it’s… there’s like no right answer.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah I don’t even think that you necessarily have to like do anything like it’s okay if you naturally drift apart and I have also been kind of ghosted by a friend which is sort of the story that I inspired this episode and because and there was this woman that I was friends with like very close friends with for pretty much, yeah, pretty much a whole year and like I saw her like…

Marina Crouse: I’ve even met her.

Nicole Booz: Many times a week and she just she really just physically disappeared from my life. Um, like she just left. I like she moved away I don’t know exactly how to phrase it. But yeah, she just like left and we did have a little bit of like a riff at the end of our friendship.

And we definitely like didn’t repair. It’s like a weird thing because I feel like there’s just no closure on that relationship for me and it’s been almost two years now and I feel like it’s a weird thing to reach out about despite the fact that I’ve like thought about it, ah like a lot over the years. But it’s also not something, like I don’t sit and think about it every day. It’s not something that like plagues me, but it’s like something will happen and I’ll have this like memory you know and I mean she I was friends with her in Seattle and I don’t live in Seattle anymore and so it’s like we were really good friends the last year of you know me living in Seattle and before the pandemic and everything so the last year we like could do anything so she’s like a big part of a lot of those memories that I have and it’s just it feels weird like that she’s not part of my life.

But also it’s fine that she’s not part of my life I don’t know it’s just… it’s a very like weird thing that I think is going to take a while to close completely in my heart. But I don’t know if the right thing is to reach out because I don’t know if it’s like a friendship that should be rekindled.

Marina Crouse: Yeah I you know as you were talking and I remembered a friendship I’ve had that similarly just kind of disappeared and I never understood why and I did try to reach out and I never got a response like I reached out to continue chatting and being friends and then I once kind of ask like hey I’ve noticed a change is did I do something wrong because that’s my anxiety is that I’ve always done something wrong to upset someone but I I asked and I never got closure and I think that’s… I guess like all relationships romantic or friendships or whatever in between there are there’s good. There’s gonna be those moments where you don’t get closure and it’s hard because you want to know why.

Nicole Booz: I mean sometimes there’s I guess there’s just not really like an answer. You know? 

Marina Crouse: Yeah, and I think it’s It’s one of those things where if you’ve got a really good support system and then you have a friendship end.

It’s something where you can say okay I might not understand it right now. My heart might hurt. But I know that I still have people in my life that love me and accept me and I will be okay and and it could be that this friendship has met its end in a natural cycle and I’m meant to have space to meet someone new because you never know who you’re going to meet and when your when your boys start going to elementary school.

You might make new lifelong friends. Like my mom is best friends with one of my childhood best friends because we were in the same ballet class and that’s how they met so you never you never know who’s going to come into your life when you need it most.

But that means we have to let be okay with like letting go of people who want to be let go.

Nicole Booz: Yeah that’s really true and it’s just I don’t know it’s kind of like maybe things just fall out of alignment like we’ve been saying and it is okay even though it’s hard and like Marina, have you mentioned this yet where you had to have a hard breakup conversation with your friend and I feel like that’s something that’s like kind of uncommon to have to be like I have to cut this friendship off.

Marina Crouse: I yeah I that was the first and only time I’ve ever done it I was probably 25 and I had lost friends before I remember distinctly not understanding why this girl I was close within maybe like middle school or high school.

Wanted to stop hanging out with me because we went from being so close and then like in weeks we weren’t close anymore and I realized she just didn’t think I was cool enough which is fine I’m cool in my own way. But that was hard I think all the friendships where I didn’t have that like distinct closure have been harder to let go of whereas the friendship that I had to break up with I was just pushed to the point where like I’m very conflict adverse. It’s something I’ve been working on with being more direct and being less afraid of ruffling feathers.

But I got to a point where I was so miserable in this friendship where I realized I’m being kind of a jerk to her and I don’t ever want to be that she doesn’t deserve that kind of friend but I don’t deserve this kind of friend from her and I remember distinctly it started with the conversation started with me kind of like realizing I had done something jerky and maybe like snapped at her in a text so I reached out and said hey and I’m sorry I feel like we should maybe talk I’ve been feeling some kind of way and I didn’t intend to have this like I don’t want to be your friend anymore conversation and it was just like she kept pushing back at me and finally I was like well honestly like I need a break I don’t want to be your friend anymore and it just came out and I was just like thinking. Oh wow, Yeah, that’s how I really feel and I know she was very surprised. She thought we were much closer and I I said I’m sorry I don’t feel that way because.

Maybe it’s that I haven’t been able to communicate to you What my needs are in a friendship but this isn’t it like it’s not okay, the way you treat me and it’s not okay, the way I treat you you deserve a better friend than what I’m giving you and yeah.
Nicole Booz: Alien A. Yeah, this just not a healthy relationship all around.

And I’ve never looked back I’ve never I did have some dreams where I ran into her but that’s more of like a conflict fear thing. Um, but but yeah I I don’t ever look back I Think in all the friendships that have been in my life that have like ended one way or another.

Some of them I’m I’m sad that they ended but I don’t ever regret it I don’t think oh I really should reach out to them.

Nicole Booz: Um, yeah, yeah I think that’s um, like an important distinction because actually you talking now just made me realize that there is a way that friendships end that we didn’t really discuss as we were talking about this episode.

And I think that’s actually like having a fight like a big fight because I guess that could be like a hard breakup but that’s not how we were thinking of it kind of.

Marina Crouse: Ah, because and I don’t have you ever had a fight like that. Oh I always say I don’t fight with my friends. It was I mean maybe when we were in like high school. It was like passive aggressive quietness.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, yeah I mean not necessarily like a like I’m like I feel like when I’m thinking of like your hard friendship breakup you’re like okay we can’t be friends anymore this is over but like a fight is just something that like…

Marina Crouse: Like cold shoulder but I’ve never had like a screaming fight or anything.

Nicole Booz: You argued about like you had to be yelling or whatever but age it was just never resolved. Basically that’s where I’m like thinking the differences and in college there was this girl and we were good friends for a while like we worked in like the same job and lived on the same floor. I don’t even know what happened but we just like so like I don’t want to say I don’t know how to explain it really because I’m not actually sure like I can’t like pinpoint what the fight was but there was definitely friction and we just kind of like parted ways.

And I did see her on campus once and she like just booked it the other way and it’s like okay I don’t even know like exactly what the situation was here. Um, but after like we graduated it was probably like a year or two later I did like send her an email and I was like hey you know I’m just like I thought about this and I don’t really know like why we stopped being friends like when we did like I’m not like I literally have no memory of like what happens or maybe I was like a horrible like I don’t know but we like we talked about it and like it you know like neutralized basically like, I mean we’re not really like friends now like we don’t talk or anything but like I feel better knowing that like we’ve repaired the situation.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, yeah I think you always want to put your best foot forward or your best foot backward. So I Yeah, it’s funny as we record that I we we talked about this episode before we recorded it like we do for every episode.

And I was like great I know these 2 examples those are the only friendships I’ve lost and now I’m thinking about all of these other friendships that have faded away for whatever reason. I will say I once had a friend who treated me very poorly and I was very insecure with myself in high school. So I Just let her treat me this way and then one like years later in college we were meeting up and we were talking about it and I I kind of was a little bit braver. So I kind of mentioned it and she was like oh well yeah I was taking it out on you because I was mad because of like XYZ. And she basically admitted that she knew she was being a total jerk to me but she thought that I was so privileged that I deserved it because I was like pretty or something and it’s like well and I never talked to her again and just that’s where I ghosted is probably the only time I’ve ever ghosted anyone where I just like…

Nicole Booz: Yeah I think that was the appropriate response because like what the hell that’s so weird.

Marina Crouse: Like I don’t need to do this anymore? Yeah, but it’s it’s like you know, Hopefully we’re all trying to be our best selves and be kind to others and if you’re not trying to do that I’m I’m not going to tell you how to live your life but maybe like. Ask yourself? Um, some questions.

But if if you’re trying to be your best self you want to be your best self for others and be a good friend to others and if you aren’t able to be a good friend to them. Maybe ask yourself what’s out of alignment because it’s okay. It’s okay, if it’s out of alignment. It’s okay, if you need to end things I guess is what I’m trying to say like we will. You will? You’ll be Okay, yeah.

Nicole Booz: Um, or even take a break from a person. Yeah yeah, like I don’t know I feel there’s that there’s definitely times where I’m just like and I like what the phrase that comes to mind is not in the mood I’m just like not in the mood to be this way that I am with this friend.

Like I was talking to one of my mine and Marina’s mutual friends and I was like you know you have the friend that you go to like Target at 10 p m with like you have that friend but like you’re not always in the mood to go to target at 10 pm you know, but you have those times so it’s like I don’t know like you need your friends differently is how I see it.

Like not any two relationships are the same and something that I’ve started doing recently in my friendships is like before I’m like venting to someone or something that’s come up a lot this particular week is I’m like do you want to hear something really sad? You can say no. and I like giving people the option to tell me no like I’m like I’m not upset if you tell me no like it’s okay to say no.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, well I was on the receiving end of that and I so appreciate it. But I think it’s something to talk about too where it’s like you’re helping set boundaries in friendships where I know for so long I was so afraid to upset anyone that I would say yes to everyone and like overextend myself and then burn myself out and then disappoint everyone including myself so work in progress. But I’ve worked really hard to set these boundaries and say no more than I say yes and do you want to share that piece of advice you got about boundaries and why you’re setting them?

Nicole Booz:  I was talking to another friend this week and she said that “boundaries are for you and not for the other person.”

And to me I was just like oh my gosh you put boundaries in new words for me I’m seeing them in a new light and Marina and I were talking and I was basically saying that it’s like you’re riding a bus together and you’re like you’re like this is my stop I’m getting off, you can keep going, this isn’t about you. It’s about me like this is where I’m getting off the bus but enjoy your ride.

And that’s kind of what boundaries are like and I feel like that’s like a mental flip-flop that I think can be really helpful when you’re setting boundaries and explaining them to other people because like in a lot of times I think when it comes to boundaries like it’s really not you. It’s me.

Sometimes and and I’m in a bad mood and like it’s I’m not mad at you I just need space like you know and I’m like no, it’s just my brain isn’t not working right today.

Marina Crouse: Right? But I’ll still say hey are you mad at me and we’re both working on those boundaries. But I think the important thing you’re talking about Nicole is that it’s not boundaries are not a punishment. It’s a protection right? And so I heard this phrase once that made it really resonated because I used to be so afraid to set boundaries and the phrase is something like “the people who are upset when you set boundaries are the people you really need boundaries from.”

And when I think about every time I’ve set a boundary with a friend and said oh you know I’m sorry I can’t do that or hey can I get a rain check all of my friends who respect me and my boundaries. All of them are like okay yeah, totally understand. It’s the friends who don’t like being inconvenienced or or whatever, whatever it is. That’s in their world that’s upsetting them like it’s they’re making it about them when it’s not and they’re the ones who need the boundary because they will continue to take and take until you have nothing left to give So I think that’s important to think about as we maybe reevaluate our friendships in the next couple of years not in a way where you like doing your taxes. But just if you’re heading back if you’re heading back to the office and seeing people in person. It’s different now. A lot of think a lot of relationships and friendships changed over the last two years for a lot of reasons and that’s okay to let them change.

And it’s okay to let them go or to say hey this doesn’t so this doesn’t serve me anymore I think friendships that sounds so transactional.

But I do believe that friendships are meant to like help you help you be a better person help you be a better friend help you be inspired. So if it’s not helping you do those things it you don’t don’t have to hold onto it.

Nicole Booz: Exactly I love that and I think that is the perfect place to end this wonderful episode. Yeah, okay so this is the final episode of season 3 we would just want to say thank you so much.

Marina Crouse: Oh thank you so much.

Nicole Booz: For listening to this season and we will be back for season 4 which will look a little bit different. Marina and I have decided that we are not taking guests for season 4 we will be doing more fireside chat style podcast recordings and we would love to open up the submission box to you all so please email Marina at marina [at] gentwenty.com with any ideas you have and if we end up using your idea we will email you a Starbucks gift card!

Marina Crouse: We’d love to hear from you so please leave us a 5 star rating and review and we’ll see you next time bye!

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.

Website: genthirty.com


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