How to kindly let a friendship go after fading during quarantine – Chicago Tribune

Erica Sloan

Q: Maybe a friend’s behavior during the pandemic bothered you. Maybe you realized you didn’t have much in common besides being in the same school, workplace or social circles. Or maybe the pandemic has shrunk your social capacity and ability to maintain several friendships. Regardless of the reason, how do you kindly break it to someone that you will not be reviving your friendship?
A: The key I’ll always trust is to focus on your new needs and not the other person. So even if you saw them behaving in a certain way during this passage of time, or if you saw them take certain political positions or make certain comments online and it has you looking at them differently or not sharing values the same, you still want to bring the focus to yourself. Whenever you’re communicating that something isn’t working for you anymore, the key is to highlight the needs you have that are not being met, as opposed to the inadequacies in this other person, although it might be totally true.
We don’t want to play the blame game and we don’t want to set them up to just be defensive and not even get the message. So a couple of ways to do that are to say simply, “Hey, I know we haven’t chatted in a while, but lately I’ve been prioritizing XYZ and I don’t think it will really allow me to maintain our friendship in the same way.”
The first thing I’ll advise is to be very clear that this is what you want to do so that there’s no back and forth or behavior that’s counter to what you said. The second thing is to be clear about the reason why, because you can’t communicate a reason until you have made it plain in your own mind.
And three, say it compassionately, with, again, focus on your needs and priorities as opposed to the person’s insufficiencies.
If it’s something where it’s kind of like a friendship fade and it’s mutual, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal announcement. But if the other person’s under the impression that you all will revive it and they’re already starting to initiate, then yes, you owe them an explanation as to why. The last thing you want to do is ghost someone and have them texting you and you’re not responsive, because that’s just a matter of dignity and showing respect for other people.
— Danielle Bayard Jackson, publicist and certified friendship coach, founder of Tell Public Relations
A: I had a personal experience where one of my cousins refused to get vaccinated and I had to tell them that I did not want to be around them. It put me in a situation where really it’s life or death. You don’t know how it’s going to affect you. If it’s a situation where someone is unvaccinated and refuses to get vaccinated, for someone who is having a hard time having a conversation like this, the best course of action is honesty. Start with how you feel, not what they should do, and ask if they are aware of the consequences of not being vaccinated and create a dialogue. Once they understand how passionate you are about it and why, they might feel inclined to make a different decision.
For situations not regarding vaccination status where you no longer want to hang out with someone, a lot of times this can happen because you spend so much time alone, or you spend so much time with people in your house that you just get used to not socializing. The effort that goes into socializing is extreme — it looks like socializing has become an extreme sport since you spend so much time in isolation.
With that said, you don’t want to say “it’s not you, it’s me,” but talk about it. Have a conversation about how you’re feeling. Explain what it’s about. Some people have realized they are more of an introvert through quarantine or have taken on the mannerisms of an introvert. Alternatively, you can work out boundaries and limits to how much time you spend with people and the types of social settings you partake in.
— Toni Dupree, behavior therapist, speaker and author, training director of Etiquette & Style by Dupree
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