Q: I need to break up with a friend. I like this smart, funny and kind person very much, but she is not a good listener. She talks and talks and when I wedge in a word, she seems disinterested. I end up feeling bad, invalidated or just like I am some kind of ghostly person who is just there to listen. We mostly just have lunch a couple times a month. So, should I duck her for a while until she gets the point? Or should I try to let her know my issue — that I’m not mad and don’t want her to change, but I don’t want these lunches anymore? I did once bring up my feelings, but the message didn’t sink in.
A: If you’re certain you don’t want to give her another shot (and that’s your right, though I’m intrigued that you still “like her very much”), then bringing up your reasoning is tricky because she’s realistically going to request you give her another chance. On the other hand, disappearing without explanation (or due to the 20th century’s murkiest of cop-outs, being “busy”) isn’t fair either, and robs her of the potential to change for future friendships’ sake. That said, you did try to bring up your feelings in the past, so it’s not like you’re being totally disingenuous here if you don’t give a notarized explanation of your grievances. I would be kind, but clear: “I’m sorry, but to be honest I feel my life moving in a different direction lately. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to prioritize our lunches anymore.”
Q: My boyfriend is my best friend. I am not his. I know this shouldn’t bother me, but it does. He would rather hang out with his buddies, he tells them news first and he prioritizes their needs over mine. He and his “boys” seem to have a bond that I will never be able to compete with, and we have been together for a year and a half! Is this just something I have to accept if I want to be with him? Or is there hope this will change with time?
A: It’s one thing to not necessarily endorse the BFF moniker with each other. After all, having solid friendships outside of a relationship can be an important part of an emotionally healthy support system.
But feeling like you can’t compete at all with his friends in terms of emotional intimacy, hangout time or feeling prioritized seems a deeper, more chronic issue. The key isn’t the label, but whether your relationship works for both of you, satisfying each of your needs and making you feel valued. Do you talk with him about your feelings? Can you spell out specific things that you would like to be different?
Only he knows whether this is something you have to accept in order to be with him, so find out. And only you can decide what that means for you.