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Dear Katie,

What’s the best way to end a friendship with someone? I have been friends with X for the past couple of years and whenever we see each other it’s really fun, but often feels one-sided and she cancels more plans than anyone I’ve ever met. She also likes to party way more than I do (past those times now), but whenever together I get pulled back into that headspace. I’ve tried to create some distance but she always comes back and places blame on me, almost guilt-tripping me back into it. 

Sincerely, 

Worst Best Friends

Dear Worst Best Friends, 

I’ve had one falling out with a friend.

It felt like summer in Los Angeles. I stood in front of a group of people at my then-friend’s wedding and made a speech about how much I loved her, everything we’d been through and how bright the future was. We had seen every iteration of each other. In the over ten years we’d been friends, there had been so much confession and closeness. 

 But in front of a crowd of well-wishers, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my speech was part-blessing, part-eulogy.

There hadn’t been one event, there had been many events. We were both right, we were both wrong. In friendships with that level of intensity, swamps grow under bridges. By then, we both saw each other through a haze. Despite how we both strained to see the other with some clarity, we couldn’t. It had gotten too blurry, sad and confusing. 

Here’s the mistake I made ending that friendship.

I wasn’t honest. 

I should have spoken more frankly with my friend much earlier. I shouldn’t have let it get so bad that there was no choice but to leave. I should have said the ways she hurt me instead of swallowing them.

My advice? 

Have the most naked conversation you can with this friend. Before you have the conversation, ask yourself a few questions: can this person be in my life in a different capacity?  Are you brave enough to withstand what’s hard to say and what’s hard to hear? Your honesty might drive her away, it might bring you closer. You don’t know, but you have to say it.  Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

Patterns in relationships die hard. In preparation for this conversation, it’s important we look at our side of the street. 

It is not your friend’s fault that you get too fucked up when you go out together. You make the choice to participate in that. You need to look at why you feel so compelled to do things that are bad for you when you’re with her. 

I kept getting drunk when I wanted to stop because it helped me feel connected to people. What I didn’t know is that it did the opposite. It shielded anyone from seeing the real me.

I worried my friendships would end when I stopped partying, but I was wrong. Things became a new version of the same. My friends and I still laughed. We still represented every memory, every past version of each other that only we held. 

We actually became closer.

But in life, there’s always loss. In fact, loss is proof of life. Most likely, you will not get through life without losing a friend. These kinds of breakups are particularly confusing. What’s the grieving process for the person you want to text about the boyfriend she doesn’t know you have? If you leave this friendship, have courage as you do. It’s the only antidote for being haunted.

I remember the moment it really ended between her and I. I sat in my then dining room as we texted. She asked if I thought we could move past what happened between us. I said we had already, but I didn’t think I could be the friend to her that she wanted. 

Instead of a large bang, it was a slow extinguishing. How unlike us.

I wonder if she’ll ever forgive me for leaving the way I did. I wonder if she’ll ever understand why I left. I wonder if she wanted to leave just as badly as I did. I wonder if she thinks she’s the one who left.

I loved her. I hope she knows I still do. 

Want to hear Katie’s take on a dilemma you’ve been facing? Submit a question for a future column here!