Linda Lajterman suffered one of the worst experiences of her life while on a cruise with herhusband and two other couples. Halfway through the trip, one of her friends stopped talking toher -- for good.
Ms. Lajterman says she has no idea what prompted the woman, who was one of her bestfriends, to cut her off. They helped take care of each other's kids, celebrated family eventstogether and shared confidences. After the cruise, which took place a few years ago, she calledher friend and asked for an explanation, but received none. She says she was devastated.
I would have welcomed the opportunity to apologize or discuss it if I did anything wrong,'says Ms. Lajterman, a 52-year-old nurse from Ramsey, N.J. 'Instead, it took me three self-helpbooks and two years to make peace with the fact that someone I thought was a good friendended our friendship.'
There are 50 ways to leave your lover, according to Paul Simon. But how many ways are thereto leave a friend?
I know, it's a terrible question. But think about it: Some of the worst breakups in our lives arenot with romantic partners. They are with friends -- the people with whom we often share ourdeepest thoughts. Friends provide guidance, encouragement, laughter and a refuge. Losinga good friend can be one of the saddest experiences in life.
And yet, many friendships just don't last. Some simply fizzle out, victims of routine life eventssuch as moves, job changes, divorce or a divergence of interests.
Others end badly. Rob Wilson, 53, a writer in Atlanta, saw a 12-year friendship abruptly endafter he mentioned he was voting for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. ArthurNewton, 46, a hotel manager from Austin, Texas, had a female friend tell him she couldn't hangout with him anymore because her husband was jealous.
有些則是不歡而散。53歲的羅伯·威爾遜(Rob Wilson)是亞特蘭大的一位作家。在2004年的總統大選中，他向朋友提到自己投了布什(George W. Bush)的票，之后兩人之間12年的友誼就戛然而止了。得克薩斯州奧斯汀46歲的酒店經理亞瑟·牛頓(Arthur Newton)的一個女性朋友告訴他，因為她丈夫嫉妒，所以她無法繼續和他做朋友了。
Michael Hassard watched a good friend run away from him -- literally. He had heard his pal hadbegun dating his ex-girlfriend, so Mr. Hassard, 39, a NASA engineer from Muscle Shoals, Ala.,approached him in church one day to ask about it. But before he could speak, his friend turnedand fled down a hallway, out the door and into his car. He and his former buddy never spokeagain.
Friendships are such a nuanced and intriguing relationship that we even follow celebrity friendbreakups, as we do their romances. Why else would we care about Mariana Pasternak but forher tell-all book about her former friendship with Martha Stewart, which ended after Ms.Pasternak testified at Ms. Stewart's 2004 trial.
友誼是一種微妙而動人的關系，我們甚至會像關注名人情侶分手一樣關注名人朋友分手。如果不是瑪麗安娜·巴斯特納克(Mariana Pasternak)那本有關她和“家政女皇”瑪莎·斯圖爾特(Martha Stewart)從前友誼的“全揭秘”書，我們又怎么會關注她呢?2004年斯圖爾特受審時，巴斯特納克曾出庭作證，之后兩人的友誼就結束了。
'It's a myth that friendships last forever,' says Irene S. Levine, a psychologist, professor ofpsychiatry at New York University's medical school and author of 'Best Friends Forever:Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend.' We are tied to our family by blood and our spousesby law, so we are often more attentive to those relationships. 'Friendships are relationships ofchoice, so we tend to overlook them,' she says.
紐約大學醫學院精神病學教授、心理學家艾琳·萊文(Irene S. Levine)說，友誼地久天長的說法純粹是天方夜譚。她曾著有《永遠都是好朋友》(Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend)一書。她說，我們與家人之間靠血緣關系維系，和配偶之間靠法律關系維系，所以我們對家人和配偶更用心;友誼則是你選擇的，所以我們往往會忽視。
As a result, many friendships die from neglect, Dr. Levine says. And this in itself poses a verysticky problem in friendship breakups: How do you know if you're being neglected -- ordumped? What if your friend is always too busy to get together but always seems to have agood excuse? What if she never calls you, but seems happy enough to hear from you when youcall?
And there's the rub. There are no rules or even societal norms for friendship breakups. Friendswho want to split don't go to counseling or get a mediator or a lawyer, as divorcing couplesdo. And there typically aren't a bunch of nosy relatives willing to intervene and relaymessages, as there are when a split is within a family.
Also, dissolving a friendship is harder than ever these days, with so many digital ties holding ustogether, from social-networking Web sites like Facebook to stored numbers in cellphones.
Dave Nadkarni can tell you all about it. When he decided to end a relationship a few years agowith a close female friend he felt was spreading rumors about him, he stopped returning hercalls, defriended her on Facebook, blocked her on his instant-message list, stopped followingher on Twitter and changed her name in his cellphone to 'Do Not Pick Up.' 'It was cathartic,' hesays.
But it didn't work. His friend got the hint and stopped calling him, and he has successfullyavoided seeing her in real life. But he still runs into her constantly online, every time a mutualfriend retweets her Twitter posts or she leaves a comment on a mutual Facebook friend'sstatus update.
'It sucks,' says Mr. Nadkarni, 29, a sales rep for a security company in Las Vegas. 'It's like thedog that's stuck on your leg that you can't shake off.'
So how do you finish off a friendship? Are some ways better than others?