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Sometimes a friendship can become so painful or unhealthy that we need to end it.
But we often don't have clear guidance or formulas to make these decisions. Our negative emotions drive our thoughts and may cause us to make poor decisions and lose relationships we could have kept.
We commonly form attachment bonds with a friend. Although we don't talk about it, we do have unspoken psychological expectations when our friends become attachment figures.
The indicator of a secure attachment figure is that s/he is consistent, available, warm, and responsive. But an insecure attachment style (preoccupied, dismissing, or fearful) might struggle with friendship expectations or the ability to provide a secure base to others.
You are likely able to accept the good with the bad in your friends. You may get close to your friends but will also give them space. If you feel hurt by a friend, it won't consume you.
You will have seen enough relationships go through the ups and downs so that you know not all relationships last. You know you can tolerate the loss and are free to continue getting close to people.
You likely have a stronger need for closeness in your relationships. You desire a "best friend" and confidante. You may be overly attuned to subtle cues that you are left out.
You become very involved in a person's life, but your friends may not reciprocate when you are in need. You may feel hurt, betrayed, angry and shame because of the belief that there must be something wrong with you.
You may have friends who complain that they are there for you, but you don't reciprocate or reach out enough. You are social but feel exhausted by the amount of emotional interaction that some of your friends need.
Try using the "consistent, available, warm, and responsive" recipe. Communicate boundaries and expectations (which most friends don't openly discuss.) For instance, you are not available at 3 a.m. for a chat. If you are less expressive, be aware that more anxious friends need the interpersonal feedback to know that you still like them.
Don't sit and wait for a text or phone call. Get busy in your own life. Make plans and fill your day.
If you can't stop hurting, consider whether the pain is partially an emotional memory from previous painful events that you have not dealt with.
If your friend is making it hard for you to function (won't stop calling, interferes with your work, causes damage to your other relationships, hurts you financially) and you have already spoken to this person, a hard stop may be necessary.
It is kinder to tell the person that you are stopping the friendship than ghosting them or letting them live in a state of anxious ambiguity. Conversely, if you have a friend that keeps you living in that anxious state, and you have tried to speak about it, then honour yourself and end the friendship.
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