We have all been there, a friend or a "dating partner" is starting to wear out their welcome but out of respect for the good times you had, you can't end it. Fortunately for you my dear readers I am one cold-heart bastard. Eliminating excess friends isn't an issue for me, so allow me to teach you how to free yourself:
Since I am married and have no intentions of being un-married (Hi Allison), lets look at something I have had to do more recently; ending a "friendship". This isn't a simple procedure because there are different types of friends ranging from good, but undependable to flat out asshole...
This is the easiest "friend" to rid yourself of because they really aren't your friend. To understand your "flush-point" (DEFINITION: The point where you are ready to rid yourself of the human skid-mark) you need to understand why you associate with this person. Most likely "the asshole" snuck in before your senses were fully formed: grade school and early high school. They probably had a rough home life which makes you look past some of their rough points.
**There is another option: The co-worker that you are forced to see daily so you try to make the best of it, but we will deal with that one last.**
What are the characteristics of an "Asshole" Friend? Lets review:
1. They are always against you/disagreeing with you
2. They never offer to help do anything they just take from the situation
3. You constantly ask yourself "why am I friends with this person"
4. When you tell them to not repeat something, that is the first thing they blurt out when they are "drunk"
5. They do things you know are wrong but you try to justify because "you are their friend, so they can't be bad people"
THE OUT: If you are reading this and have identified "the asshole" in your life, take out a piece of paper and write down every terrible thing that person has done to you. Next time you see them (YOU MUST DO THIS IN PERSON), review the list. Tell them that you don't think it is a good idea to continue the friendship due to them being a total piece of shit. If they hide behind their rough past... Boo Hoo. They have to get past that sooner or later.
Now if "the asshole" is a co-worker, you can't be as direct because this could mess up your work environment. ADVICE: Be very careful hanging out with co-workers socially, bring them in gradually and make sure you can trust them. You don't want stories from your personal life leaking into the office. Back to the plan: the strategy is the cold shoulder socially - stop inviting them out. If you had a go-between friend that continues to hang out with "the asshole" - cut them loose too: if this person is "the asshole" I am describing, the only reason the other person was hanging out with them was because you were. Once the asshole is on their own at work, things tend to work out and they will eventually completely drift away.
At some point in your life you have had a friend that is never happy. No matter what they do, nothing brings them joy, nothing is ever good enough. At first, your reaction might be to help them find their joy. This is the right thing to do for three months (advice: urge them to seek professional help!). If the misery continues, don't go down with the ship. Cut them loose, set yourself free.
The dilemma is that "The Downer" isn't a bad person. They don't do anything to harm you or put you down. The issue is that you are spending valuable time and positive energy trying to help someone that doesn't want help: this is not a productive use of your time. Let me add that there are certain situations where you should extend the grace period for a much greater period of time (the three D's: Disaster, Death, and Divorce). There is a difference between a life changing event and a person's standard operating procedure. Know the difference.
THE OUT: Tell "The Downer" that their depression is contagious. Their misery is now your misery and you want no part of it. Suggest they get help and to call a few months of healthy sessions.
Times are tough and this is not about someone saying they can't go to the movies or go out to dinner because they can't afford it, this is about the person that does go out and pulls one of two moves every time they are in your company:
1. Short change the bill so you have to cover (and its not like they said "hey I am short, spot me")
2. Itemizes everything. Example: "We ordered 10 wings, I ate 3, you ate 4, three are left, I am only paying for 3).
THE OUT: This friend will only lead to bad places, easiest thing to do is to stop inviting them out, stop calling, and then wait for them to confront you. You might get off with them fading away or you might have the chance to tell someone to their face that they are a cheap bastard, either way, its a win-win.
Like the downer, the train-wreck entices sympathy from those around them. The train-wreck doesn't do bad things to you, they do bad things to themselves and you get caught in their shit-storm. A few examples are:
1. Calls you every night at 3 AM to tell you they aren't getting along with their crazy ex-girlfriend\boyfriend\tranny
2. Gets arrested for public intoxication or public nudity
3. Has ALOT of problems with their relationships and tells you everything OR the significant others starts to call you
4. Always has a Get-Rich-Quick idea and tries to get you to help them
5. Hard Drugs - enough said
6. Sexual Issues - if you know more about their genitals than your own, time to move on
THE OUT: While you are rooting for the train-wreck to sort out their lives, you can't get in the middle. Again I suggest a 2-3 month grace period and then cut your loses. This may sound cold, but life isn't that god-damn "That's what friends are for" song. You need to lay out how their problems have impacted your friendship and that you can't stand by and get hit with the shrapnel anymore.
Nobody is perfect, everyone is going to fit one of these profiles sometimes. The key is to not be that way most of the time. If you get a strong consistent whiff of one of these characters, cut them loose, you are doing everyone in your life a favor.
[SIDE THOUGHT: I want to make a quick note expressing why I think it is pretty messed up that there isn't a uni-sex word to describe people you are dating, besides lovers which just sounds creepy... that is all.]
Personally, I think ending friendship is easier then ending romance because if you are looking to get rid of a friend, they probably did something to deserve it, but with love, the person could be great, but just not great waking up next to every morning for the rest of your life. I did the serial dating thing for a few years and this is a quick reference on extricating yourself.
Although I don't think I should have to, I will note that if your potential dancing partner exhibits any of the traits I listed for bad friends, end it now. Go. I will wait.
Let's just get this one out of the way... If you go out on a date and for whatever reason didn't notice or overlooked a physical feature that is starting to turn you off, I suggest the following steps:
1. Really think about if this "flaw" is a deal breaker. Don't worry about being shallow because you are doing the other person a disservice by having one foot out the door. If the physical feature is a deal breaker, go to step two. If not, have a good time.
2. That giant pimple making you dry heave? No shame in that. Hopefully you are doing things early and it isn't complicated. Tell them that you don't think it is going to work out and you aren't developing deep feelings for the person. BAM! Done. UNLESS...
3. WHAT IF THE PERSON WON'T TAKE NO: I have experienced situations where I was honest without getting too negative on a person and they would not take no for an answer. Every few weeks I'd get a call asking to go out, etc. I would tell them I was seeing someone else (which was true most of the time) and they would still pursue. This is where you have to get brutally honest. Tell them straight up - the reason I don't want to be with you is because I am not attracted to you. That should just about do it. It hurts, but honesty is better more phone calls. If the calls continue, change your number (another move I used quite a bit).
[Not into the same things]
As John Cusack said in "High Fidelity", the little things matter. What music, movies, and books a person likes make up the foundation of their being. So lets say you have gone on a few dates and discovered they are into things you hate: Country music, Ann Coulter, Cats, Sarah Jessica Parker, bars called "Swanky Bubbles" - whatever.
Just tell them you have nothing in common. It sounds simple, but a very attractive person sitting across a table from you telling you how much they love Garth Brooks might be worth listening to for the chance to see just how attractive they are... but its not. Seriously. Trust Me.
PS - Don't ever tell somebody to "Have a nice life" when you are blowing them off, it really pissed them off... I learned that one the hard way (twice).
There is something about single girls and cats. It freaks me out. I don't like the combination at all. In my single days, there were a few situations where I was asked to come back to an apartment for a beverage, and then I would meet Fluffy or Mr. Twinky.
Here is what not to do: Wait until your date leaves the room and get the hell out of there. I have done that a few times... just left. Of course this leads to inevitable calls, and you can only ignore it for so long, so you have to take the call. In these cases I basically said whatever I had to to get them off the phone and never call back. In one case the girl said she was thinking about getting rid of her cat because men seem to hate them - that turned me off even more - no loyalty to the animal.
Seriously, if you are not a pet person and your date is, this can be a huge issue. Bring it up in light conversation within the first two dates and if you don't like what you hear - take off into the night Joey style.
[Race & Ethnic Barriers]
If you are 50/50 about dating outside of your culture. Don't. You need to be all in or all out. No need to pontificate on this one any further.
I am a firm believer in positive energy attracting positive energy, so try to set yourself up to be in a good mood and be around good people. Don't tolerate negative influences because it sours everything. You have to accept that you can make mistakes in choosing who you allow to be in your life. Once you get past that, it makes things easier when you want to get rid of them.
I am not endorsing whole sale destruction of a social scene but I am not saying it should never be an option. People have a little voice in their heads that tells them the right thing to do - you can call it a conscious, instinct, God - it doesn't matter, but it is there and we have done a great job learning how to ignore it. Listen to your damn spider sense next time you are thinking about asking someone new out to dinner.
Have a nice life!
PS - Tune in for the next post - "How to Meet New People".