There are laws and lavish protocols for getting a divorce or terminating a business partnership. We even have rules for disinheriting our children. But how on earth do we go about breaking up with a friend?
For young people it’s less complicated: You just stop hanging out with them, or you unfriend them on Facebook and they figure it out. Yet at our age, when we’ve been friends with people for decades, it’s not so bloodlessly accomplished.
I have plenty of wonderful new friends, and those relationships are based on grown-up shared interests and tastes. But I also have a lot of “old” friends — that expression has taken on a second, less-flattering connotation in recent years — many dating back to grade school, college, my former jobs and various pursuits.
Over the years, those friendships have been the source of some of my deepest joys and closest bonds. When you don’t have a live-in partner or children at home, friends can be closer and more important than family. And when those relationships are good, they’re very good. But when they go awry, it can be horrible.
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