I’d like to address a bit of a double-standard I’ve come across when it comes to friendships-vs-relationships-of-the-romantic-variety.
First of all, I do think that especially for young people, a friendship is a more important thing than a relationship. We all know that we probably won’t marry the person we go on our first date with, but we may well still be in contact with our best friend from school. Also, we all need a group of friends to support us, whoever they may be, more than we need to be in a romantic relationship.
I’ve noticed, however, that it’s a lot easier, or perhaps I should say more socially acceptable, to break up with a boy/girlfriend than it is to break up with a friend, and this is a priority I can’t understand.
I like to think that if I ever found myself in an unhappy or, God forbid, abusive relationship with a boyfriend, I would be able to break up with him (though I can’t imagine how hard that must be for people). I’m also certain that my friends, family, and even anyone who knew I’d broken up with him would be understanding. They wouldn’t want me to stay with someone who was hurting me, or who simply wasn’t “the one”.
Why is it so hard, then, to end a friendship? You can’t really “dump” a friend, or if you did, you would be pretty harshly judged for doing so. Often a girl might be in a friendship that is physically or emotionally abusive (or both) but can’t extricate herself from it—or when she does, people see her in a different way and assume it’s she who has the problem if she just “ditched” or “stopped talking to” someone.
Comments are thrown around by misunderstanding friends and strangers that “girls will be girls” and “that was a bit dramatic”—when really, the termination of an abusive or unhappy relationship is in order to remove oneself from drama.
I’m referring to girls here from experience, because I know that girls often feel judged and are usually worried about what others might think, but it occurs to me that it might be even worse for boys. It’s sort of more acceptable, I think, for girls to dislike other girls than for boys. Who knows? There might be tons of boys in friendships that make them unhappy. Perhaps someone might enlighten me.
Friendships of all shapes and sizes end naturally all the time: someone moves away, starts a new job or school, or people just develop different interests, and drift apart. Any ending is sad, but often necessary as it paves the way for a new chapter in one’s life. When someone ends a friendship deliberately, all I ask is that you don’t judge them. Treat it with the same seriousness and sensitivity you would give a romantic break-up: understand there was a good reason, have the grace not to talk or gossip about it to them or anyone else, and realise that the only person who knows the ins and outs of a friendship is the person in it.