We've all felt the pain of romantic breakups. And while it's wrenching to be the breaker-upper, we do what we gotta do. Yet curiously, many of us drag our feet about ending unrewarding nonamorous allegiances, such as with a hairdresser who's not "cutting it" or a friend who's morphed from enjoyable to toxic. Why is it so hard? "Movies have been written about breakups with boyfriends, lovers and husbands," says Gina Barreca, relationship expert and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter. "But there are fewer patterns to follow when it comes to these other relationships." Instead of feeling obliged to maintain a relationship when the connection has long soured, read on to learn how to gracefully make a break for a sweeter-and maybe even saner-life.
Perhaps you don't need to break up formally; often, letting a friendship that no longer feels close drift naturally into an outer orbit in your life works on its own, says Irene Levine, PhD, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. But if the friend in question is toxic-the friendship's become one-sided and draining-you have to make a break, says Barreca. "Don't lie and say, 'I'm too busy,' because it'll haunt you later." Be honest: "This friendship is just too hard for me right now. I wish you the best of luck with your problems, but I can't see you or talk to you so often anymore." Photo by Getty Images.
Tricky! In many cases you've been going to her chair for years-and spilling your secrets. Try first to mend the problem; if a weird cut or bad color was a one-time thing, let her know you're unhappy and give her another shot to fix it. But if you've been suffering in silence through too many bad 'dos, it's time to tell her something short and sweet, like, "I'm going to give another salon a try for a little while." How is that better than just never calling again? "You don't have to worry about running into her again and feeling bad," says Barreca. And who knows, you may want to get back together someday. Photo by Shutterstock.
Have you got a snooper next door who's constantly ambushing you with news you didn't want to hear? Breaking up can be thorny, thanks to that pesky proximity. Short of moving, "it's better to distance yourself by sharing fewer details with your neighbor," says Dr. Levine, and making it clear through body language, like hightailing it into the house with bags of groceries, that you don't have time to chat. If it doesn't stop, or if she's spreading malicious gossip (especially about you!), "call her on it, and ask her to stop." No good comes from either staying silent or hurling insults, so keep it honest and civil. Photo by Getty Images.
No one likes a nanny who leaves her employer in the lurch, so don't do the same by dumping a caregiver you no longer like or need without so much as a heads-up (though the story's much different if she's hurt your children in any way). Assuming it's something benign, such as the fact that she was great with your baby but you'd prefer someone more active with your toddler, you'll have to be honest. Or honest-ish: "We're going to try something new with Johnny, such as daycare." And be sure to give her proper notice so she can find another job, says relationship and social media expert Julie Spira. Photo by iStockphoto.
Whew: Here's one you really don't have to worry much about. Doctors understand that things change (your insurance coverage, for example), and, though they may have taken good care of you and your family, at the end of the day they are professionals who are aware that people join and leave practices all the time. Chances are you don't have to say anything formal, says Spira. "The office staff may send a 'make an appointment soon!' postcard, but that's it; in most cases, the doctor may not even realize you left." Sad (in the sense that the days of the home-visiting family doc are over), but true. Photo by Shutterstock.
Charity or Volunteer Group
It could be that you were gung-ho about the hospital fundraising board but now find the meetings tedious-plus you've become more interested in an arts group. Or, maybe you're simply stretched too thin. Whatever the reason, don't quit abruptly; you don't want to alienate the people you worked with (who could be good for networking down the line) or become their newest subject of discussion-or gossip, says Spira. "Say, 'I've enjoyed participating, but my interests (or available time) have shifted, and I need/want to focus on [fill in the blank].'" Photo by Getty Images.
You loved the woman who's been scrubbing your toilets and getting the gunk off your stove for some time, but lately the house just isn't that…sparkly any more. First thing you should do is be sure you didn't do something to make her unhappy-like adding a huge addition to your house and not giving her a raise, says Barreca. But if it's just a not-working-out thing, "fall back on the bad economy to let her go," suggests Spira, and give notice as a courtesy. Photo by iStockphoto.
Many of us have been there: feeling trapped in a cubicle while a coworker hangs around, trash-talking everyone else. Luckily, you have it easier out here than you do with a neighbor or friend: the "excuse" of professionalism. "Work should be your first priority on the job-not being social," says Dr. Levine, so don't be shy about setting boundaries. Act as uninterested as possible (gossips need a willing audience like fires need oxygen), and use body language to discourage her (turn toward your computer, say). If that doesn't work, be straightforward and firm: "I have made a policy of not gossiping at work." Photo by iStockphoto.
There may come a time when your current playgroup, once vital to your new-mom life, just doesn't fit your (or your kid's) needs any longer. You don't want to make yourself the subject of gossip, so don't make a dramatic exit, says Spira. Instead, "do the slow fade. Show up less and less often as you gradually move into a new set of friends." Photo by iStockphoto.
Is your current group all about trashy romances and the drinks-and-snacks portion of the experience, whereas you'd prefer a book club with a more literary bent? In the case of a mismatch, politely extricate yourself with something like, "I can't manage the meetings the way I used to, and am taking a break from book clubs for now." That's better than an abrupt end. Be polite, even if you're fudging the reason for leaving, says Spira, because you may still want to keep in touch with the members personally or professionally. Photo by Shutterstock.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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