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.

8 comments:

Queen of Quirky said...

Ick. Sounds like he has some issues that have nothing to do with you.

Kaci said...

Wow. Some people have issues that have nothing to do with us, even though we can't understand. Sorry you had to deal with someone who was in that boat!

Melissa said...

Thanks, Ladies. That's the prevailing sentiment -- it's his issue -- though still very disappointing. And all the more reason to be grateful for true friends!

Sunny Austin said...

Wow indeed. I'd try to give you a guy's perspective but it must be a gay thing as that's flat-out strange behavior. Regardless, I'd say you're better off without such a drama queen in your life.

highheelgal said...

Funny how we obsess about why our romantic relationships end, yet when a friendship ends, we don't spend much, if any, time analyzing it!

Melissa said...

So true, about the time spent analyzing romance versus friendship. In both kinds of relationships, though, I've found that a little reflection goes a long way toward learning what to do differently in the future and being more careful with your heart.

prep and priss said...

Yes - the issues that he's gay. Nothing you can do about that...

Melissa said...

Loved him as a friend, so I wasn't trying to do anything about him being gay. And I still wish him all the best, because he was a great friend while it lasted.