Friendship Breakups

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Worth Keeping

But there are some signals that you have too many social contacts. If your social calendar is so jam-packed that you barely see your close friends and family, you might want to consider pruning your list. If meeting an acquaintance for a glass of wine feels like an obligation then you're probably overextending yourself.

Of course, not all friendships end because we're too busy. Sometimes it's a natural extension of other changes in our lives. The new mom and single woman can't bridge their now very different lifestyles. The former officemates discover that their only commonality was their shared outrage at their boss' buffoonery. "Our lives are so much less stable than they used to be," says Paul. "We have babies at wildly different ages. We move around a lot more. We get divorced. All these things shake up a friendship, and often fracture them."

Many women report ending friendships due to a profound disappointment -- their pal disappeared during a time of crisis or became jealous and resentful during a time of celebration. These rifts occur for men as well as women, says Judith Sills, PhD, a psychologist and author of The Comfort Trap (Viking, 2004). "I do know men who will say there is a problem between us, let's talk about it, but women are usually more comfortable with that," she says.

How do you decide if a friendship is worth saving? Sills says you need to ask yourself how you feel when you're around your pal. "When you find yourself in chronic pain from the friendship -- if there's an ongoing feeling of being used, pressured, or just bad about yourself. Or, if there is an absence of pleasure, where you think 'I'm just going through the motions here. We haven't had a good time in years,'" she says.

Continued on page 3:  Break Up or Fade Out


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