In her latest podcast episode, model actress and author Emily Ratajkowski talks about handling the breakdown of a friendship, and why kindness plays the key role.
While a romantic breakdown as a category has its own rulebook when it comes to implementing boundaries — “I think it’s best we don’t see each other anymore” — friendships just don’t operate like that. Ratajkowski remembers a time when she felt she needed to end a relationship with a friend.
“We were really young when we became friends and we were both modeling. I had just moved to New York for the first time and was about 20 or 21 years old,” she recalls. “[My friend and I] would go out to parties together and we both lived in the East Village and she was really cool. But then I feel like work was going differently for us and I was getting a vibe that maybe she was a little unstable — it was that vibe of maybe she wasn’t the best person to be hanging out with at that time in my life.
“I distanced myself from her, and then we hung out again,” she continues. “It became clear that we weren’t going to become friends and then there was this weird moment where she basically picked up on the fact that I wasn’t into the relationship and wasn’t into her. I tried to cover for it because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and make her feel like I was being mean. But she got the message and I hurt her feelings.
“We weren’t a huge part of each other’s lives but I do think about her a lot. There is a world where she would still be my friend. It’s stressful.”
Citing this article from Psychology Today, Ratajkowski talks about trying to titrate the intensity of the friendship, and how she has personally “put friendships on ice way more times than I’ve ever broken up with anyone.” As she says, sometimes people just float apart.
“Maybe we’ll fall back into each other’s lives, and I’m open to that,” she says. “But I don’t want to have a long conversation about why they aren’t giving me what I need at a given point in my life. But I still I love and wish them well.”
The idea is if you’re seeing that friend twice a week, see them once a week, and then maybe once a month. But if that person isn’t allowing you that space, you need to talk to them.
“If there is something about the friendship that you’d like to change, you obviously need to think about the most appropriate way of communicating with them. And then just say, ‘I noticed this thing is happening that I don’t like and it bothers me and it makes me feels bad. Can we change things a little bit.’”
If it’s not something you can come back from, Ratajkowski says there’s a way to approach things.
“There’s no reason to ever list a bunch of things that somebody did that bothered you,” says Ratajkowski. “Respect them and be kind about it. Think about the best way to end it in a kind way.”
Without giving too much away, there’s more in-depth tips on ending a friendship on Ratajkowski’s episode here. It’s worth a listen while you’re pottering about today (especially the part of grieving friendships!).
“I’m thinking about [my friend] listening to this and what she would think of this,” muses Ratajkowski.