There are times when a relationship needs to end. I’m not talking about normal atrophy, or drifting apart due to personal growth and change. I’m talking about coming to an intentional end, due to abuse, boundary violations, or other unhealthy issues. Marie Murphy, an O reader, cautions against burning bridges because you may need to cross them again. But how do we do that?
Lisa Decker offers advice about divorce, suggesting that you meet with a certified divorce analyst as you begin the process. Finances can become especially difficult, and her website offers many services and referrals to keep the process simple. Getting expert advice and doing everything you can to keep a divorce civil is the best way to keep from burning that bridge. It’s not always possible, unfortunately, but seeking the advice of experts is a good start.
But what if you have to end an friendship? This can be awkward because there are no concrete agreements, just mutual regard that, for whatever reason, is gone. Irene Levine wrote a book about how to handle such breakups: Best Friends Forever. As people put off marriage and family, even while moving out of the family home, friends become much more important. I lived by myself for seven years in Washington DC, and my friends became my family. Yet over the seven years, there were friends I had to part ways with. Usually I chose the path of least resistance: saying no to invitations, not reaching out, etc. However, I would love to find other ways to handle such issues. So Irene’s book is on my to-read list.
What about you? Have you ever had to end a relationship? What lessons did you learn? Were you able to keep the bridge from burning?