Why does a friendship end? Because it is based on fragile balances: pacts, founding myths, power struggles that can become obsolete or suddenly collapse. Being aware of these underground cogs saves the relationship. Or to accept more easily that it no longer has to be. It all starts out like a dream. An obvious attraction: we find the other beautiful, intelligent, refined, in short, wonderful. We are proud to have been able to capture and attract the attention of an extraordinary personality.

The breaking of the non-aggression pact

Little by little, however, the complexity of the link emerges. Because the feelings we experience are not always benevolent: if we judge our friend charismatic, his aura also overshadows us. We are flattered to have attractive friends and, at the same time, we envy them. The friendship is based on a non-aggression pact, but it is weakened by jealousy and rivalry, which are also part of the dance: if we share the same inclinations, we are likely to compete with one another. the other. “There are, in the feelings that found friendship, all the seeds of enmity. Sometimes a clumsy remark is enough for the aggressiveness that we had inside us to emerge, ”warns social psychologist Dominique Picard. The normal ambivalence underlying the link is not always easy to accept. Being aware of it and, possibly, opening up to the other when it nibbles our affection, can allow to defuse a fatal explosion.

The end of illusions

Friendship is based on myths. The first concerns the relationship itself: “We postulate that if there is friendship, there is reciprocity. In fact, affection is often out of balance. Over time, this imbalance becomes more and more evident. There is always one who calls less, manifests himself less, is less invested in the relationship, ”notes Dominique Picard. If nothing moves, if the one who feels abandoned does not open up or if his remarks are not followed by any change, weariness and bitterness gradually break the bond.

Another illusion: what Dominique Picard calls the presumption of similarity. She tends to make us consider the friend as another ourselves: “At the beginning, we send each other rewarding images, playing the role of mirror for each other, details the psychosociologist. The other must therefore share our passions, our convictions, but also our enmities. Over time, differences of opinion can be experienced as betrayals. The relationship can only last on condition of accepting otherness, of not denying it. Finally, just as in love, in friendship, we idealize the other who idealizes us. “It gives us the feeling of existing and of being important: you consider me and I consider you better than the others”, summarizes Dominique Picard. If the friend’s gaze becomes critical, we lose the sense of our worth. The only solution so that the image of oneself is not damaged by this eye which has become malicious is sometimes to destroy the image of the other, thus validating the famous definition of La Rochefoucauld, for whom friendship is “a business where self-esteem always has something to gain ”.

The upheaval of places

Friendships depend on the context and the situation in which they are formed. Take the case of two twenty-year-old friends: they got closer at the start of their careers, they “drooled” together, struggled, united against adversity in order to succeed. They succeeded and decide to work together on a project. But when it comes time to divide up the tasks, the authoritarianism of one, whom the other has long accepted because she felt protected, becomes unbearable. She feels it, sees it as an oppression. She had spotted this trait in her friend, but it suited her well then. She no longer wants to play “small hands”, to assert them. “If the dominated contests the choices of the dominant, can no longer bear hurtful remarks, wants to start a new life, he ends up rejecting the one who“ sadizes ”him. The place relationship has changed, ”analyzes Dominique Picard. Friendship and bond disappear. This is sometimes the price to pay for a door to open to freedom.

For further

To read
Relationship conflicts by Dominique Picard and Edmond Marc. An analysis of interpersonal conflicts: understanding their mechanisms is already a path to their resolution (PUF, “Que sais-je?”).

Those friends who don’t want you well

Inventory of toxic personalities to avoid, adapted from the work of the philosopher and psychologist Ariane Bilheran, Be solar! (Payot, “Psy”).

The vampire: its presence instantly causes a feeling of physical discomfort, anxiety. “His inner emptiness feeds on the anguish it triggers […]. He devours the energy of others to fill himself. The more bad you feel, the more he or she radiates.

Le ruminant : it is not you that he devours, but himself. “He ruminates on his worries, and this inner ritornello seems to create new worries again […]. His pessimistic view of existence “spoils yours and, if” you get too close, the storm of misfortunes will befall you too. ”

The Inquisitor: he spends his time judging you. “He is this person whose self-critical gaze you systematically feel. “Hard on you, but gentle on himself, in his presence,” you feel limited […], observed, judged, and this censors your attitude, your thoughts, your emotions ”. Courage, go!


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