The Real Housewives of New York City had some four-alarm drama this week — Dorinda “not your family crest” Medley and Sonja “it is my family crest” Morgan (say “family crest” again and watch everyone rip their own hair out and eat it), Tinsley Mortimer fighting with Bethenny Frankel (something about a wedding dress, sorry “family crest” still ringing in ears), and Luann de Lesseps fighting with Ramona Singer (Tom/drinks/Harry).
Then, like a game of musical chairs, they switched it up. Dorinda fought with Bethenny, Carole fought with Bethenny, Bethenny fought with Bethenny, Bethenny's walls went up, and on and on until my head fell off, rolled across the floor, and was later discovered by police muttering "family crest" all on its own.
But amidst all the screaming and yelling, there was some non-aggressive talk of friendship breaks. Carole introduced the idea, telling some of the ladies they needed a break from some of the other ladies, but that’s impossible to do when your job is to be with these ladies on camera and fight. Why does Dorinda care about Sonja’s crest anyway? You’d think those giant crystals in the lounge area of the spa would have calmed them all the eff down, but no. Useless.
Carole's onto something. Maybe after this season everyone takes a breather, yes?
It’s possible to take a friendship break without breaking up forever. In fact, it can even be healthy and, when you return to each other, you may both have a new perspective on the relationship. We’re not talking about what can happen during life changes, like moving, babies, or growing apart naturally. Sometimes friendships need a break if, during recent “conversations” the decibel of your voice can only be topped by a plane taking off. Or if you're leaping from the dinner table like an MMA fighter out to destroy family crests.
Here’s how to do it right:
Friendship expert Jan Yager, author of When Friendship Hurts, tells Personal Space a “cooling-off” period may be necessary for two friends who are not connecting — and that's fine.
“For too many people it’s so easy to send an email and overreact and a cooling-off period is good if you want think about it [and] if you’ve been pulling away from each other,” she says. “During that time you can consider ways you can get it back on track.”
Dr. Yager adds that during the window of time apart, make sure you do reconsider the friendship.
“Think about how are we connecting to each other and getting along, let’s reevaluate it,” she says. “A cooling-off period means no contact for a period of time after actually talking about what's going on in order to understand it. But my key message is there’s always a risk when you tell someone how you are feeling negatively about a friendship.”
Remember, don’t just disappear, talk to your friend and explain what’s going on. In all likelihood, they need a break too.
When you do talk, don’t attack. Be polite and nice. “OK, you wanna wear the Morgan family crest? Go ahead, cool slippers. Have a nice day.” Something like that.
Remember it’s not forever — unless you want it to be. It’s healthy to create some boundaries and create space for a few months.
Psychology Today says there are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering if you need a break from a certain friend.
“Do I avoid calls, ignore texts, or frequently cancel out on plans with this friend? Do I feel better or worse after spending time with this friend? Do I ever find myself wondering how I ever ended up in a friendship with this person in the first place?”
They also advise not letting toxic relationships drag out too long but to handle the split with care.
“Weigh your words carefully when ending a relationship. If it is likely that you will still run into the former friend in the neighborhood, at work, on campus, or at the gym, make sure that you end the relationship on as positive a note as possible. Technology issues may need consideration — unfriending, blocking email or Twitter accounts, etc., may need to be handled. Acknowledge the benefits that the relationship has offered over time and express appreciation for the positive role the friend has played in your life in the past. Do not allow yourself to dwell on negative thoughts about revenge or punishment of the former friend. Researchers have found that this negatively affects your own well-being.”
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