Friday, September 02, 2005

THE BROKE UP

When men break up as friends.



I just received a book in the mail entitled The Friend Who Got Away, Twenty Women's True-Life Tales of Friendships That Blew Up, Burned Up, or Faded Up. I got the book for free from its publisher Doubleday, who for some odd reason sends me a great deal of Chick Lit-centric books (The J.A.P. Chronicles anyone?). When Shana saw the fluorescent orange cover, she picked it up immediately and said, I totally know what that's like. And immediately began leafing through it, fascinated, almost salivating at the prospect of commiserating with other friendship dumpers.

It turns out that women have break-ups all the time. Not the sort of break-up that ends with a hopeful but insincere let's be friends or the almost-jokish it's not you, it's me excuse. Oh, no. These sort of break-ups are always passionate, are never taken lightly and almost never, ever happen without fireworks. Women usually break-up because they simply have no other choice. They must. I'm sure you understand. And if you dont, well then, you can go to hell too.

It's assumed that only women go through a friendship break-up. In fact, I have spent a reasonable amount of time researching this on the web and have yet to find anything about men breaking up with men as friends. It almost seems as the collapse of the Dude Bond (there is no stronger) has and will not ever happen in the real world. Sure, a girl can tell her girlfriend off but could a guy eliminate one of his boyfriends...err, ahem, uhh, dudes from his social circle? It didn't seem that we did such a thing. Is it possible that no one clearly acknowledges the circumcision of the male friendship, or rather, the broke up? If so, that makes me feel pretty alone because I'm pretty sure I'm going through one now.

We used to speak a few times a day, casual conversations sharing the minutiae of the every day. I spoke with my male best friend probably more often than I spoke to my mother. There was a general impression that we could share anything with each other and never risk our masculinity. We could talk about clothing sales, movies, a new record, the most recent New Yorker, stuff, and things. We hardly ran out of things to say. It was a blessed friendship because we both brought our distinct talents to the table. But over the past couple of years, there have been problems and complications involving our communication, more his fault that mine (although, he repeatedly and wrongfully spread the blame). Suddenly, he had more on his plate to deal with and our daily, multiple conversations became every few days, then a couple of times a week, and then twice, maybe three times a month. All the while, our bond deteriorated into a shaky foundation of a fading friendship that resembled a pen-pal correspondence with a child from a third world country, hearing something along the lines of "sorry you have not heard from me sooner. Mail leaves my country so rarely." I grew progressively frustrated with all of this. He was frustrated with my frustrations. I resented myself for feeling needy. He resented my being needy. I felt neglected and manipulated into thinking I was being needy when all I asked for was a basic and sincere friendship. He wanted me to "just stop it." Eventually, I found that I needed out. My maintanence didn't seem that high. But two weeks ago, he yelled at me on the phone for something that was, ultimately, completely silly. I held the phone to my ear listening to him go on and on, barely uttering a response, all the while, thinking, maybe this is all over. Maybe I don't want to be in this anymore.

I asked a few friends of mine (all male) if they shared a similar predicament. Every one said "yes." So much for the unrelatable experience. Noah revealed that it happened to him twice. He got dumped but also on another occasion, he did the dumping.
"I just came to the realization that this guy was an a**hole," Noah said about an ex-close friend. Or rather, an ex-bud.
"I sent him an email saying that I cared about him as a friend and that there were certain things I felt he was unaware of and I wanted to shed light on them.
"He wrote back "thanks,"" Noah continued, "and that was the end of it."

Nick had his own break-up who would eventually refuse to speak to Nick ever again (something about playing music too loud). In fact, Nick just passed the estranged friend in the street for the first time in over a year and apparently he's not over being dumped. The ex-friend pretended to not even notice Nick as they walked right past each other. "Being someone's friend shouldn't be work," Nick said, "and it got to be work to keep it up."

Another friend, John, is the one who I least expected a break-up story from but surprisingly, he had one. "I was hanging out with this guy for an extended period of time," John told me. John is a man's-man. Lest you think the male friendship break-up is more inclined to happen to the sensitive guy, John loves women and takes every opportunity to announce this fact. Moreover, he is built like a club bouncer. "I decided the guy was an immature bully and a prick so I'm minimizing my interactions with him."
So, you're not dumping him outright, I asked.
"Well, if he doesn't get the hint, I'm going to have to pull out some line about seeing other people. But in the meantime, I'm phasing him out."

Breaking up is hard to do but breaking up with a guy who had been a close friend for a long time is even harder. A few guys I spoke with told me they avoid the conversation all together and would prefer to have the friendship peter out like a tank of gas. But if there's one thing I've learned from all of this is that friendship is always a give-and-take (not a profound assesment). As long as there is an equal distribution of high-fives by both parties all should be well. But as soon as that becomes unequal leaning to one side, there needs to be a resolution.

"I spent so much time and energy trying to make my friendship work," Adam told me. He grew up with this best friend, spent years with him, and even their families were best friends. This made his scenario even more complex. "But after a year or two, it was like knocking my head against the wall. Enough was enough. So I dropped the axe."

My axe hasn't dropped yet, but I'll put it this way; It's being sharpened just in case.

8 Comments:

Anonymous To be continued... said...

You just can't have a title and say "to be continued..."

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

empty promises...it's wednesday and still nothing.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Arye said...

Sorry, guys. It's up. I've been swamped but here it is. Thanks for your patience.

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the book. I was interested in it since I had a major breakup with my (female)best friend. We have since sloooowly reconciled, but it will never be the same again. Thanks for the piece, it was good to hear about it from a male perspective.

6:42 PM  
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12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had a bro break up. But we were not as vocal as this story was-which i wish we were-. We were 'besties' back then. But things were different now. It started when he had his own priorities, leaving me behind. And yes I can fully understand those priorities. And that is why i kept silent. We then started not talking to each other. No more friendly talks over pointless debates, girls, movies, and even talking about other people's own lives (how rude of us--i know right?). Versions of stories flooded from people around us, and i think we both felt it's pointless to talk it over. We still see each other today but it's not the same. Not anymore. Things were just..err.. awkward.

I tried to look for another bruh. And it felt like i was 'that' happy again. It felt like it was okay 'not needing him'. But things in me just got worse and as days go by. This new bruh felt like nothing. It just fades. Swiftly. As quick as how it started. And it feels like, what we've shared over the few months were fake. And i just created all these unreal things.

I'm happy i was able to write this. I've never really told anyone about how i feel. Thanks ya'll. Peaceout.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Antonio Perales del Hierro said...

I today broke off a relationship with a guy whose friendship has been most impactive on my life, surprisingly so because I generally avoid rash macho-types like X. But he is actually a sensitive man about many things, and not above sharing a good bro hug. But I realized he is tied in his head idealogically big time with his ways. I also did not approach his friendship to change him, which is not for me to do, so I said "let's end this," When I explained why he flipped, and called me things that I am not. But I cannot even get upset with him, let alone angry, because I genuinely have a high regard for him for so many other aspects of his personalty and character. So it is painful for me, as I know it must be for him being rejected. Dazzled by this new pal ten months ago, I think I should have spoken up sooner - but his loud angry reactionary ways always inhibited me - so it came to this. Now I can only wish him well and get over it, because my bro love for him is still pretty real. Life can be a bitch.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Antonio Perales del Hierro said...

I today broke off a relationship with a guy whose friendship has been most impactive on my life, surprisingly so because I generally avoid rash macho-types like X. But he is actually a sensitive man about many things, and not above sharing a good bro hug. But I realized he is tied in his head idealogically big time with his ways. I also did not approach his friendship to change him, which is not for me to do, so I said "let's end this," When I explained why he flipped, and called me things that I am not. But I cannot even get upset with him, let alone angry, because I genuinely have a high regard for him for so many other aspects of his personalty and character. So it is painful for me, as I know it must be for him being rejected. Dazzled by this new pal ten months ago, I think I should have spoken up sooner - but his loud angry reactionary ways always inhibited me - so it came to this. Now I can only wish him well and get over it, because my bro love for him is still pretty real. Life can be a bitch.

6:32 PM  

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