Break up a friendship??

kuleshov

Senior Member
Spain Spanish
What verb should I use if I want to say that I'm no longer friends with one of my friends. Can I use BREAK UP? Or does break up always imply that it is a love relationship? So, how can we avoid ambiguity?

Do men and women use the same expressions to say that they are no longer friends with someone?

Cheers
 
  • AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    In AE, we don't usually say we broke up with a friend. That's usually reserved for a love relationship.

    We may joke about it in a light-hearted way when we don't want to seem like it's any big deal by saying, "Oh, we used to be friends, but we broke up." This is usually said in order to make it look like it's of no consequence to us that it happened. (Because it's not really funny at all.)

    Another way we mght say it without giving away any details of the relationship:

    "We came to a parting of the ways."
    "We parted ways."

    AngelEyes
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Also, "A falling out".

    We had a falling out; we no longer speak to one another.
     

    Esca

    Senior Member
    ATX
    USA - English
    "We're not friends anymore."
    I might also say:
    "We're not in touch/in contact anymore."
    "We grew apart." (It was a slow process of detachment because you didn't have anything in common anymore.)
     

    GamblingCamel

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi Kuleshov, WRF users have given you some great idiomatic choices.

    Angel Eyes and Packard both offered wonderfully subtle suggestions, and although your English seems top-notch, you might not yet be comfortable using them in conversation.

    I've heard myself saying "I broke up with X," when I want to indicate that friend X are I were emotionally close, such that I am feeling loss and confusion. Not to stereotype, but in a USA context, you sometimes have to use ironic ( unexpected ) language when describing male friendship. It's not always easy to be flat out direct.

    I love Packard's line. Its unexpected contrast communicates a great deal about the ups and downs of friendship. The rhythm and phrasing is so perfect, I started to wonder if it's a local saying or proverb.
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    Thanks GamblingCamel,

    The point was to find an expression that conveyed the idea of one person deciding to end a friendship, rather than partying ways, growing apart, etc, which are always external reasons: moving away, working long hours, etc. You decide to end a friendship because you feel betrayed, abused -or your friend does!-, and that's why break up is actually the right verb; the problem is the connotations it carries.
    Anyway, that's what makes language such a powerful medium.

    Cheers :)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Hi kuleshov,

    These phrases:
    We went our separate ways.
    We grew apart.
    We drifted apart.
    We no longer keep in touch.

    ALL of these are typical ways an American would tell someone they're no longer friends with someone else. We would never say "We broke up." unless we were trying to make a humorous attempt at lightening the event, for whatever reason.

    Parting ways or growing apart are not necessarily external reasons for not seeing a friend anymore. In fact, these phrases almost always mean something internal, which is what you're looking for.

    These are genteel ways of saying we no longer are friends with someone. Please don't dismiss them as unusable for your purposes if you're going to be saying them to an American.

    Only when we don't care how it looks, or we're really glad we're no longer friends with someone and don't care who knows, would we come right out and state it in no uncertain terms:

    We are no longer friends.
    (Even with this one, tone of voice describes the depth of our rejection of that other person.)

    Or as Packard said:
    The friendship was great; ending it even better.
    (This is one we wouldn't hesitate to use if we didn't care what anybody thinks and we wanted to be absolutely clear that we don't want to have anything to do with our former friend.)

    It's incorrect to think that those first four don't mean "We broke up."

    They mean exactly that. They're just subtle and an AE attempt at being discreet and polite. But the message comes through loud and clear to any American listener.

    AngelEyes
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    ...I love Packard's line. Its unexpected contrast communicates a great deal about the ups and downs of friendship. The rhythm and phrasing is so perfect, I started to wonder if it's a local saying or proverb.
    Thanks. It is just something I whipped up for this thread.
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    AngelEyes,

    Thanks a lot for such an insightful post. Obviously, when we end a friendship we feel bad; it's a difficult decision. I thought the other expressions were more appropriate when life, as it were, makes friends grow apart -by life, I mean you move away, lose touch because you are too busy, etc-, but now I see we can use them to be tactful .

    Cheers :)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    kuleshov,

    I'm glad I didn't misunderstand you. :)

    Even painful endings in friendships can be described by using these seemingly non-related phrases, but very often they're exactly the ones we use.

    If it really hurts not to see a friend anymore, the last thing you might want to do is share any of the details with someone else.

    So you just smile and say one of those sentences. They really don't tell the true story but any American who hears them would understand the meaning behind them.

    Also, just because someone moves away, that doesn't mean a true friendship ends.

    We all certainly prove that here on the Forums. We have friendships with people we've never even met! :D


    AngelEyes
     
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