Endings – how do you handle them?

15 years ago, I fulfilled a dream – I enrolled at a University I’d fallen in love with 10 years previously. And you know what, my dream didn’t let me down, not one little bit. It was quite the chore to attend – two hours of travel each way, multiple changes of trains, all for 3 hours of teaching. Yet I loved each and every minute. The whole experience gave me a buzz like nothing before or since. Despite being late at night when I finished my two hour journey home, it became my regular practice to chat on the phone, long into the early hours, with another psychology-loving study-junkie friend.

Like most courses, there was an attendance requirement – no problem for me as I attended each and every session – except for the last one. This fact generated an email enquiry from one of my tutors asking whether I might have a problem with endings. I had a good practical reason not to attend but, with hindsight, there was a lot more going on underneath.

That hindsight clicked in again some time later, over the realisation that when my romantic relationships ended, I almost always went out of my way to convert those relationships into friendships. Crazily, I even prided myself on remaining friends with my exes, thinking it was grown-up and mature. But it wasn’t. It was simply easier for me to keep those people in my life, than to face the alternative.

The subject of how I handle endings raised its head again recently when, rather than just accept I have a problem with them, I had a bit of a dig around in my past. Throughout my childhood, it was normal practice for my father’s overseas postings to end while us children were away in boarding school, and for the next posting to be lined up while we were away in the UK. As a result, my parents made decisions over what to keep and what to get rid of among not only their possessions, but ours too. But the bigger issue is that we left behind a lot of people without being able to say goodbye, to decide if we were OK with the relationship ending, or were interested in taking steps for it to have some sort of future. And it was never mentioned or acknowledged that this was anything other than business as usual, so any troublesome thoughts and feelings were shut away. No wonder I’ve been holding on like grim death to everything and everyone since!

Do you have friendships dating from way back? Does it feel natural to let go of people when life or the nature of the relationship changes or ends?

24 thoughts on “Endings – how do you handle them?

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  1. I have one friendship with a childhood girlfriend. She and I have gone down dramatically different paths, but the bonds of being awkward teenagers together holds us together.

    As for letting go of other people who I once called friends, for most I never close the door completely but I also realize we no longer have the relationships we did. It’s kind of sad, but necessary to allow space in the relationship.

    A few people I have walked away from forever when they behaved poorly, rudely, and showed no remorse for their actions. They crossed my personal boundaries– and I won’t put up with that.

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  2. Gosh Debs your last paragraph resonates so much. Leaving a much loved posting without being able to say goodbye to people or places was so very hard. However, we were a stoic lot and accepted and got on with it. Sx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had the same three best friends for 40 years. We text each other daily. I have a few other long term friendships. But I am very good about ending/reducing things that just don’t work for me anymore. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like them…just that we’ve changed in ways that no longer suit me as a person. No farm no foul

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  4. I moved a lot as a child, too. And I learned that being able to say goodbye was very important to me, even when it hurt. Some people don’t–kids today think “ghosting” is a perfectly acceptable way to end a relationship. And they aren’t wrong, but it’s taken me years to be okay with simply letting go–without ceremony. (Perhaps I was also addicted to drama?)

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  5. Like the others, I have a few fry from childhood, although we live far from each other. I’m pretty good at not dragging out relationships that just don’t work anymore. I just let them lapse.


  6. My longest relationship is with a friend I met when I was 7 years old, and although we don’t see each other very often anymore due to distance, we still consider each other good friends and vacation together. Being introverted, I don’t make friends easily or lightly. And I have high expectations of a friend, as I do of myself in becoming someone’s friend. As I tell those who I would consider potential friends – be sure you really want me as a friend…it’s a life sentence 😉.



  7. Ally, I have one friend from pre-teen years whose family went back to Canada. We’ve remained in touch – sporadically – but never broken. I hope one day to make it over to see her, fortunately she’s been able to travel to London on a few occasions as she used to be air crew. But now she’s retired, it’s clearly my turn!

    I’ve cut a few people out, and it’s for those very reasons. That was a big sea change for me, but an important one. It seems change can happen – no matter the age – if you want it enough. 🙂

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  8. Oh Sarah ❤ although I'm not surprised, as I imagine there's quite a lot of us expatriate children who've experienced it. And yes, it meant we developed high degrees of stoicism, but I wonder how it manifests in later life. x


  9. I think being able to say goodbye is such a big part of growing – and of growing-up. Ghosting is a tricky one – it’s certainly easier, and a sound method of self-protection if you feel in any danger, but I do feel it should be used more sparingly than is common now.

    I’m still haunted by the last time I saw a family friend who had terminal cancer. He was still “well” when I saw him, but I’d no idea how to handle the situation which I knew would be the last time I saw him, and remain haunted by it even now. (I don’t think you’re addicted to drama btw)

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  10. I know other people who’re the same as you LA, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Sometimes envy, but at other times I wonder if I’d like it. It’s a road not travelled anyway, that’s for sure.

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  11. I am sorry about your friend–what a tough situation. How does one handle that?! I think, like any tricky social interaction, you’d need practice and training. It’s not something that happens frequently enough for either. And yet we somehow think we should have figured out the perfect speech the first time and mull it over for years.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh absolutely! I remember when I first moved to the UK full-time and met people who’d lived in the same village all their lives. Everywhere they went they were greeted as people had known them and their families since birth. It was both alien and attractive.

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  13. I’m better now. During my treatment for breast cancer, I met a lot of people who’ve subsequently died, so I learned. But you’re right, we do need training. Think of all the stuff we could be taught in terms of life and social skills instead of those things we’ve never ever had cause to use again. Not practical though… But thank you for understanding the mithering which has gone on ever since ❤

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  14. I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life, going from one job and region to the next. As a result, although I’ve made wonderful friendships, they’ve all turned into mostly virtual ones. I rarely if ever see any of them in person, which I quite regret. But I take some solace in the fact that I at least made the decision to literally move on to something new. Your story, Debs, of your parents having made unilateral decisions about people and possessions on your behalf feels very unfair. That you’ve done what you can to correct that in your adult life is most commendable! – Marty

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  15. I don’t have friendships. That sounds sad on the surface, but my dad was in the Air Force, and we moved every three years. Not just down the street or the next town over; we went from Hawaii to Ohio to Hawaii to South Dakota to California, for instance. It was simply impossible to maintain friendships under those circumstances. Fortunately, that has made me a very independent (if introverted) adult.

    I have NEVER remained friends with an ex though, so I commend you on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Marty, it was just the norm for those of us who lived that type of life, as evidenced by the reply from my old school friend who’s father worked for the same company as mine. We were a stoic bunch and there were many worse things we experienced during that time. But yes, I’ve gone out of my way to ensure that things which I found uncomfortable weren’t repeated in my daughter’s childhood, so thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes, the constant roaming during childhood does have both its positive and negative impacts Mark.

    Thank you for commending me, although I’m entirely sure it wasn’t always the best of ideas. I guess having the ability to be friendly & civilized is a skill which does prove useful from time-to-time.


  18. I have two friends from junior school, including one who I fell out with at the age of 11 and only reconnected with about 3 years ago.
    I also attend school reunions for my senior school every few years. I find it FASCINATING. Often the people you think you’re going to spend time with, you don’t gel with, and you find yourself chatting away with people you hardly knew at all at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Such a great observation Rosemary, and yes – people and relationships of all sorts are absolutely the most fascinating aspect of life for me too.


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