Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 62: The One on Breaking Up with Friends.

My Latest Score: By the Book.

Have you started our book club book?  I am deeply impressed.  After reading the first short story, I immediately texted one of my sisters to recommend it — I could tell it would be right up her alley, and she often takes me to task (not really) for my beach read addiction; this book is heftier.  (Not difficult to read, though — just exceptionally well-crafted, varied, imaginative, and they say something.)  I am savoring every story and taking time to properly annotate as I read in anticipation of our first in-person book club meeting, so when I woke in the middle of the night and found myself unable to fall back asleep, I felt like I needed something more mindless — something I wouldn’t mind nodding of to.  Basically, I needed a light-hearted sidecar.  After crawling through Amazon and GoodReads for a good thirty minutes, I settled on Julia Sonneborn’s By the Book, a modern-day re-telling of Persuasion, which is my absolute favorite Austen book, because I relate so deeply to its heroine, Anne Elliott.  (No, really — remember when I identified her as my favorite heroine ever?!)  But guess how Sonneborn has reimagined the novel?  “An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic.”  YAAAAS.

*Image above from here.

P.S.  – If you’re in NYC and want to join our first in-person book club meeting, please sign up by inputting your email below — and if you’ve already emailed me to ask to be on this list, you’re already on the list!  I’ll be sending out a formal invite for our inaugural book club in the next few days, and the first 10 women to respond will secure a spot:


You’re Sooooo Popular: The Mara Hoffman Sale.

The most popular items on Le Blog this week:

+The entire Mara Hoffman sale hereThis is currently in my cart, and if I didn’t already have too many bathing suits, so would this.

+My dream dress for a summer wedding.  I die!

+My favorite running shoes, though one of you smart readers (also an avid runner) pointed out that these shoes offer minimal support, and you should get your gait examined if you’re in the market for a new pair!

+Darling, dramatic blouse on super sale.

+A rainy day activity for your mini.

+One of mini’s current favorite books.  (More great baby books here!)

+Love these bold monogrammed tumblers!

+Super saucy beach read.  (Partial review here.)

+One of the two products that changed my skin!

#Turbothot: Breaking Up with Friends.

Have you ever had to part ways with a friend?  As an adult?  It’s a weird concept, really, and it feels borderline infantile — the kind of thing you might expect of seven year olds trading secrets after school while waiting in the carpool pickup covey.  “No, Miranda’s not my friend.  I’m only friends with Charlotte.”

A friendship isn’t, at least in my experience, the kind of thing that you snap into and snap out of.   But over the past few years, I’ve had to part ways with two friends — and I didn’t do it face-to-face, either.  In both cases, I came to the realization that the friendship made me feel badly about myself.  I would come home after a coffee date or hang up after a phone call and feel less than, depleted — and I’d turn to Mr. Magpie for comfort.  His response was always in the posture of protection: “What is she thinking?” and “That is so weird.  Yuck.  You shouldn’t spend time with her,” and sometimes, at a loss for words, a blanketing “I don’t know, Jennie.  I love you.”

With both friendships, after much heartache, I decided that the best thing would be to quietly fade into the distance–not an Irish goodbye, exactly, but a gradual withdrawing.  A part of me thinks that I owed them an explanation for the increasingly sporadic responses I would offer, the polite declines to invitations.  (Was it cowardly of me to not say something outright?  Was it unfair of me not to offer them the opportunity to rebut my claims?)  But most of me thinks that I had given them years and years of time, dozens and dozens of instances of “I’ll just shrug that off” or “I’ll just politely move on,” and that I did not have the energy or, frankly, the desire to go toe-to-toe with someone who I was quite sure was simply not a good fit for me and my life.

I remember getting drinks with a now dear friend, W., early into our friendship.  She said to me: “I’m only interested in being friends with people who are authentic, honest, and lift other people up.”  She said it pat-ly, as though it was something she’d rehearsed a thousand times.  I found it endearing; it was as if she was on a first date, and she’d given some thought to what she needed out of any relationship she might enter into.  (I trust I passed her screening…ha!)  She was onto something there; I think it’s fair and healthy to consider whether the people with whom I surround myself are life-enhancers (to borrow Lee’s excellent turn of phrase).  Isn’t life too short to do it any other way?

What do you think?  What has your experience been?

#Shopaholic: The Melamine Plate.

+Can we talk about how incredible these melamine plates are?!  We’re attending TWO picnics in Central Park this weekend, and I wished I’d ordered these in advance!

+Love these for mini in the strawberry print.

+I wrote about these in yesterday’s post, but I really want these dipped leggings.  So chic!  Love the pastels.

+My favorite pearled mules are available in a fun new colorway!

+I swoon over this dress with these simple slides.

+Love these marble-effect mixing bowls.  I know they’re meant for food prep, but I’m primarily interested in serving popcorn and chips out of them — and how they’d look styled on our shelves!

+This chic beach kimono looks like it’s by LemLem, but costs a lot less!

+In honor of cinco de mayo, how fun are these earrings?!

+This cherry print bag!!!!  Love the size.

+These look like D. Porthault, but cost far less!

15 Comments

  1. This is something that I have actually struggled with just recently, and I, like you, faded my friendship out gradually. Maybe it’s just me not wanting to be confrontational, but I think it’s kinder to not point out others shortcomings, when you can just faze out a friendship. It was just too exhausting being friends with this certain someone. I would come home from dinner or drinks and just be so confused how we talked about her life’s problems for 3+ hours and she would never once ask how I was. I had to stop reaching out (super hard for me) or declining invitations (even harder for me), and I am so much happier for it. As one of my good friends recently said to me when I told her about the situation, “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze,” and it really wasn’t. Now I can make more time in my life for people that bring out the best in me and actually contribute something meaningful to my life.

    1. So wise — “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” And so lovely that you were able to get support and encouragement from a true friend in the midst of it — sometimes you need someone to say, “It’s OK to let go!”

      Ugh, tough stuff though.

      xx

  2. It’s so funny because in this week’s episode of the pod (we record way ahead shhhhh) Becca and I answer a reader question about friend breakups! They are so hard!!! I saw this title of the post and thought, “Oh I have to read this, I’m sure Jen has a much more elegant way of dealing with friend breakups..”

    but as it turns out we’re on the same page… adding distance and gradually withdrawing.

    It’s so tricky. I know friends who have taken a more direct approach and it seems a little bit mean. But I guess the gradual approach is also a bit mean – there’s really no easy way to do this.

    1. What a weird confluence — or maybe not; maybe it’s just one of those things every girl goes through in her life every few years and we’re all separately wondering if we’re doing the right thing.

      I had the same internal dilemma; is it cowardly or unkind to quietly fade away? But — I came to the consensus that if a relationship is unhealthy for me, or is making me feel badly about myself, I don’t necessarily owe the other person a particular kindness. In fact, I don’t know that I owe her anything at all, especially if I have given and given and given over the years in the form of friendship. Not that it needs to be tit-for-tat or anything, but I wouldn’t criticize someone who has quit a job with a horrible, derisive boss for not writing a parting letter of explanation. Sometimes things are better with a clean break?

      Or so I tell myself. I’m just not sure about the upside of radical candor. In the best case scenario, *maybe* the person turns inward and reflects on herself and steers towards self-improvement? In the worst case scenario, you wind up with egg all over your face and feel guilt for hurting someone’s feelings, or wind up trapped back in the relationship and then it’s very obvious when you try to curtsy your way out. Not sure….

      xoxoxo

  3. I had a conversation on friendship with my mother last night. My mom is the best of women – loyal, loving, compassionate, and a lifetime friend to many.
    I am not my mother.
    I have a less romantic, almost severe approach to relationships, defining them as “reason, season, or lifetime.” I go into them hoping for lifetime and planning for season, and I identify reason relationships long after they’re over.
    I do ghost out of friendships, and always look back on them with love and respect. I rarely regret them and am always grateful for them.
    It may be severe, but it’s helped me protect my heart after getting it broken multiple times.

    1. Hi! That’s a really interesting categorization — “reason, season, or lifetime.” Perhaps intuitively I have a sense when someone might be “a lifer,” but I’d never thought about things in that way. It makes sense — these are strategies we devise in the aftermath of painful experiences.

      Thanks for sharing that! xo

  4. I, too, have had to break up with friends in my adult life, which also felt uncomfortable given that I have many friendships that have endured since grade school. I guess I expected all of my friendships to stand the test of time? But, also in my adult life, I’m fiercely protective of my time and my heart, and have had to distance myself from a couple of friends who, like you said, caused me to feel badly or were not a positive influence. I also did kind of a slow fade. For no particular reason except it was probably easier than offering the true explanation. Some things are better left unsaid 🙂

    1. I agree with that, April — “some things are better left unsaid.” I remember weighing, carefully, the pros and cons of speaking up about the various things that were causing me discomfort or unhappiness in my relationship, and they just didn’t seem like things that would change easily. And I thought it would cause more strife and struggle and damage to speak up about it. It’s hard-going, but I like the way you’ve framed it: you need to be fiercely protective of your time and your heart!

      xo

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more about being intentional about who you choose to surround yourself with. I too have had a couple of adult friendship break ups, and while a bit painful, I think the decisions were the right ones for everyone. I have two little girls, one just a few months older than Minimagpie, and a five year old. As I help my older daughter navigate the waters of friendship, I find myself telling her to be intentional about her friends – to choose to be around friends who make her feel happy and settled (who “fill her bucket” – the Fill a Bucket books are GREAT for teaching kindness to children! ), not the others (and sadly, there are others who will call your child names and exclude her – it’s heartbreaking!!!!). But like many things in parenting, I find myself “parenting myself” in a way when I remind her of the need to choose friends carefully (and eat healthfully, get enough sleep and exercise, pray, listen to her body and what it’s telling her, listen to her own voice inside her head and where it’s guiding her, have integrity and always do the right thing no matter what others do, and on and on!). I think you are right to follow your heart and make tough but good decisions for your life.

    1. I like that phrasing — “intentionality.” And it’s not just about surrounding yourself with people you intentionally want there, but also about being intentional, present in those relationships. Good way to think about it.

      It’s so interesting you bring up the notion of parenting yourself, too. I already see elements of that in myself, especially around practicing what I preach when it comes to patience.

      Thanks for writing this! A lot to marinate on here…xo

  6. Ah yes — I have been through a friend breakup once myself in my adult life, with my best friend from college after a serious transgression that I tried to overlook and repress, honestly, and then a moment of realization that crystallized her lack of empathy on such a grand scale that I couldn’t help but think of her differently from then on out. We were roommates at the time (!), which complicated things, but in the end, it was for the best. I rarely find myself missing her in my day-to-day life, which both makes me sad and gives me hope, in a way, that I was able to survive it.

    We spent about 3 years without really speaking to each other, and then she invited me to her wedding and I went. Our relationship now is such that we check in with each other once every 6 months or so, and see each other maybe once every other year. It’s for the best, I think. It’s crazy to think how close we once were, but I’ll put it Lee’s way — she is not a life-enhancer for me, AT ALL, and for a period of time was a true life-diminisher. It’s sad to think about it in those terms, but so true.

    Anyway, I love the idea of By the Book as a lighter counterpart to All the Names They Used for God (which I am going to order posthaste!) Can’t wait to hear your take on it.

    That Sézane cherry bag! Love!

    1. Ahhh, MK – I also have a couple of friendships that fell into that bucket: we parted ways and then still did the awkward invitations to weddings/events and occasional “let’s get coffees!” I honestly find those “half-in, half-out” (sort of like an ass-out hug? haha) even more difficult to stomach than a clean break; it’s like, “What are we doing here? Just papering over things? I know we aren’t going to be serious friends again, so why…?”

      So hard, though; I’m often too polite to completely shut someone out if they’re extending an olive branch.

      Yes, By the Book has been a delightful sidecar, and you MUST read the Sachdeva! I’m 2/3rds done and am itching to talk about it!

      xox

    2. You’re so right — I have attempted, with the friendship I described above, to make it a clean break, but couldn’t resist the olive branches. Every time I see this friend, though, I’m reminded that she is pretty self-absorbed and will never be a good friend to me, and it reinvigorates the wish for an end to our friendship (until the next olive branch is extended!) I think I need to keep this post and this conversation with you in mind next time she comes knocking.

      In other, happier news, I just ordered the Sachdeva and cannot wait to read it! Will aim to keep up with the Magpie book club — can’t wait to discuss. xx

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