Saturday, January 23, 2010
The Platonic Breakup
Whether it's with a friend or lover, breaking up is a messy business -- a fact of which I was reminded during a recent encounter with a former colleague.
After catching up over a pleasant lunch, said former co-worker unexpectedly launched into a 45-minute monologue about why he needed to pull back from our friendship. He felt ‘stifled,’ he said, adding that he still needs ‘space’ to figure out his feelings.
“It’s not because of waning interest or because you were too needy,” he told me. “And I’m sure at some point in the future I'm going to want to drop you a line."
I was baffled. How, I wondered, had I suddenly been cast as a jilted significant other, when the man doing the rejecting happened to be gay?
The question got me to thinking about how, unlike with romantic relationships, there’s really no road map for ending a friendship.
In my experience, when friendship fades, it’s a gradual process that bypasses the breakup scene altogether. You start seeing each other less and communicating less frequently. And that fizzling out tends to happen once you no longer share what brought you together in the first place -- a common workplace or dating status, for example.
Interestingly enough, this is exactly what took place with my now ex gay best friend. Our lunch was only the second time we’d socialized in a year, so his I’m-just-not-that-into-you speech seemed more than a little irrelevant.
Still, I can’t help appreciating the irony that he took a page out of the breakup playbook to get his message across. Well done. He just needs to work on his timing.