dump a friend

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Tom from Derby is trying to friend zone an actual friend. He writes:

How do I break up with someone that I’m not in a relationship with? I have an acquaintance that I have nothing in common with and find conversation with him to be very difficult but he wants to go everywhere with me and invites me everywhere and basically comes on too strong. I think I might be his best friend but I don’t consider him more than an acquaintance and that makes me quite sad.

I tried getting to know him a bit better but I definitely don’t enjoy his company. I’ve tried ignoring his daily texts, Facebook messages and emails but they don’t dry up. I’ve tried avoiding him but he knows my haunts and is often there too.

My “friendship” with him is putting a strain on my real friendships and relationship as he keeps turning up the places that we go. He’s not a horrible person (and neither am I) but we just have nothing in common. I don’t want him to be lonely but I don’t want to see him several times a week for the rest of my life and wish he would pursue other friendships with more like-minded people.

We are both straight men – in case you jump to conclusions.

That’s a tricky one, Tom. I think you’re right to avoid engaging in his frequent comms, but it’s possible your aloofness is making this person even more eager to win your affection – like when you ignore a golden retriever, so they bounce all over you at every opportunity rather than playing it cool.

Readers, what would you do? Advise Tom in the comments. But remember to keep your emotional distance.

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9 Responses to “dump a friend”

  1. HowardChakowitzFan Says:

    In Wiretap with Jonathan Goldstein, the very first episode features Jonathan’s friends breaking up with him over the phone, one after another. A good start for one of the best radio shows in production.

  2. elmsyrup Says:

    I had to ignore a couple for about 6 months before they got the message. Stay strong and it will work in the end. Responding just to be polite only extends the agony.

  3. Toby Says:

    Watch Episode 5 of ‘Extras’ featuring Samuel L Jackson. ‘Andy’ has a similar problem with one of the other extras. His solution (and I can’t recommend this highly enough) is to fall face first into his soup in a crowded restaurant. Worth a try surely?

    Difficult situation though. Seriously though, it’s hard if he has a very hard skin and won’t take a hint. If this is the case, you’ll have to be very direct and honest. Try saying something like: Look, I really don’t like to be rude, but I don’t think we’ve got anything in common. I’m a bit highly strung and it’s starting to freak me out that you’re always trying to be around me. Are you gay? Because that would actually be a relief, as I’m not and even if I was, you wouldn’t be my type. So let’s pretend you asked me out and I said no so we can go our separate ways.

  4. samuelfurse Says:

    Is there any chance you are taking this a bit seriously? I mean, it’s annoying to have someone hanging around like a bad smell on the landing, but does it really put a strain on other friendships? If I were pushed, I’d say that it sounds like you are in your teenage years or very slightly after them, and so in a time of life where relationships feel more fragile than they really are and the need for commonality is overrated. It sounds to me as though this inconvenience (and I’ve been there, don’t get me wrong) is making you a bit socially awkward and sapping your confidence around others. Let that tension go as you wish to let him go and it’ll soften. It may even allow him to loosen up and turn into someone you do want to spend time with. Either way, good luck 🙂

  5. JP Says:

    I have this same problem with TWO friends who strangely have a lot in common with each other. I have tried setting them up on a “man date” (yes we’re all straight men” to see if they maybe could latch onto each other instead of me, but they routinely insist that I be there because they “feel awkward” that being the mutual friend, I’m not there. Both of these gentlemen are very socially awkward but nice people, and I feel horrible that I just can’t hang out with them and my typical friend group.

    I don’t see myself being able to “tell them like it is”, though I feel that may be the only thing that may work. Any other ideas?!

  6. chrislaidler Says:

    I’ve spent much of my time at uni scared that I would be in the position of your ‘acquaintance’ – scared that my closest friends saw me as little more than an acquaintance getting in their way. (As the quiet one in a group of obnoxiously loud people all vying for attention, I naturally slipped into the ‘third wheel’ position, and am thus largely ignored)

    With that in mind, I would suggest you should be direct and firm, but without being rude or aggressive. Just explain that you feel pressured to see him as frequently as possible, at the cost of other friendships and relationships. You both need to ‘widen’ your social circles a bit. It will be hard for him to hear, but as long as you are sincere and open about it he will come around in time.

    You could also try to help him find different friends… or just wait for Stockholm Syndrome to set in and see where the ride takes you.

  7. Martin Says:

    Perhaps he’s not straight. I had a friend who had a flatmate who was a bit socially needy with him, and a few years ago he came out.

    Can you not enlist the help of your better friends? Get them to hide you when he comes in the pub and so on?

  8. jarthurstormer Says:

    “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

  9. chris mcphee Says:

    Slap him in the face with the biggest salmon you can find. That way he’ll be hurt but happy because Salmon is fucking expensive and who doesn’t like salmon?

    But seriously. You need to take him to one side and let him know that although you like him enough to have the occasional conversation you dont want to spend every wakibg second with him. The truth hurts but at the very least he’ll know where he stabds and you’ll be leachless once again.

    Ripping the plaster off hurts in the short term but then you just get on with your life.

    But please consider my first option before you do what a normal person would do…

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