Dear Mom Mom,
This is a hard email to write. I think I have to break up with my BFF. We’ve been friends since second grade, and we’re now in our early 30s. I’m starting to realize — without going into too many details — that she has values that I just don’t approve of, and I’m not talking silly things like bad taste in tv, I’m talking major MAJOR things. I just don’t know how I can be friends anymore with someone who is so self absorbed, narcissistic and morally bankrupt, and I wonder if she was always this way and I just never saw it. Now that I have kids, suddenly these character flaws are a big deal to me.
Do we need to have the Big Talk or can I just end this quietly or what? I absolutely hate confrontation. Help!
Dear Bad BFF (but good person),
Wow, so many things that I want to say, but I am trying hard to avoid dissertation mode and put you all to sleep. Also, the gossipy 7th grader in me is DYING to know the particulars of this, so feel free to email me, and I promise to keep it confidential. But really, I have enough information here to go on, and the details are not especially relevant, as you’ve made your feelings very clear.
To start with your question, no, I don’t think it is necessary to have a Big Official Talk. You may note if you’ve read some of my other advice that sometimes I do advocate being direct (my family may use the word ‘blunt’) and having difficult conversations when necessary, but in this case, I do not. I fail to see any good that can come out of such a conversation.
When people show you who they are, believe them. — Dr. Phil
All that matters is that your friend is behaving in a way that you don’t respect, and that’s an indication of her character. She is not going to change. She has shown you who she is. Believe her.
Our free time is a precious commodity, and choosing to spend it with people who bring you down or raise your blood pressure is not necessary. That is definitely one of the benefits of being a grown woman. I do think we are programmed from an early age to always play nice and ignore unpleasant traits in others, but as you wrote, having children changes your perspective.
How do you achieve this? Keep the phone calls short and the dates to a minimum. Being a parent offers the handy excuse of blaming things on kids which we want to get out of! Many relationships change and evolve over time, and that includes your childhood best friend. This is a person you may choose to always have in your life in some capacity, and that’s okay. But it’s clear your are ready for this person to take a less important role, and that’s okay, too.
I think if you do continue the relationship, it’s fine to speak the truth and not feel compelled to uphold the BFF Code of Unconditional Support. Certainly don’t hesitate to say things like, “I think it’s wrong to cheat on your taxes and stupid to brag about it,” or, “Maybe you should try marriage counseling before sleeping around?”
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. — Dr. Seuss