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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Ask Annie: How can I nicely break up with my friends?

Facing a problem yourself? Annie has answers. Ask away!

                      Nicholas Anastacio | Graphics Editor


Dear Annie,

My friends are always really annoying to me but I don’t know how to “break up” with them in a kind and confident way.

Help Please,

A girl that doesn’t know what her name should be

Dear a girl that doesn’t know what her name should be,

If you can’t make up your mind about your pseudonym, how do you know you’re ready to become a ghost of your friends’ past? It’s a big decision, especially since, in my experience, women’s former friends can live in their heads rent-free for years, aka the equivalent of men’s obsession with the Roman Empire.

Since friendships come with emotional intimacy rather than physical aspects, it’s much more final than a romantic breakup. Seeing an ex-lover is a bad idea, but at least you and your former paramour have a strictly sensual activity to do if you meet up. Seeing old friends may not be so easy. GW is also deceptively small, and you may run into your ex-BFFs at events or just roaming around campus. And is it worth all the effort of ending things with your friends just because you find them a little “annoying?” Is it a habit a conversation could address, or is it unfixable? 

If you do choose to “break up” with your besties, decide whether you want to untether yourself or completely cut ties with them. Cutting ties may be necessary if the situation negatively impacts your self-esteem or prevents you from fulfilling your needs, but setting clear boundaries better suits a less urgent situation, giving you time to discern if a permanent break is necessary. Assess how your body feels when hanging out with your friends. Are you overcome with feelings of insecurity, or do you feel a sense of ennui?

In seeking a clean break, have a discussion with your friends at a neutral time and place, like a quiet campus coffee shop or study space on a Friday afternoon. Make sure everyone’s mind is fresh and no one feels territorial over the space. Compassionately explain why you want to end the friendship, emphasizing your own feelings over their actions. Acknowledge you have enjoyed the times you spent together, but your values no longer align.

If you want a softer break, consider slowly diminishing — but not extinguishing — contact with them. Don’t ignore an individual text, but if there is a group chat, don’t engage. Work to prioritize other activities, like student organizations and fostering new relationships. Giving space to other activities will ensure you’re not alone if the friendship fizzles out. 

Whatever you do, don’t ghost your old friends; treat them with respect and empathy, acknowledging that your new priorities put distance between you. If your friends want to mend the distance, then it’s time to have a discussion as you would with a clean break.

Friendship break ups are painful. If you’ve decided a split is what you need, communication is key. An honest, open dialogue suggests you feel confident in your decision and you are kind enough to appreciate the memories made. Even if empathetically communicating your friendship is no longer a priority leaves both parties teary-eyed, it’s better than disappearing with no explanation.

A girl who does know what you should do,


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