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Linda Lajterman suffered one of the worst experiences of her life while on a cruise with herhusband and two other couples. Halfway through the trip, one of her friends stopped talking toher -- for good.
Ms. Lajterman says she has no idea what prompted the woman, who was one of her bestfriends, to cut her off. They helped take care of each other's kids, celebrated family eventstogether and shared confidences. After the cruise, which took place a few years ago, she calledher friend and asked for an explanation, but received none. She says she was devastated.
I would have welcomed the opportunity to apologize or discuss it if I did anything wrong,'says Ms. Lajterman, a 52-year-old nurse from Ramsey, N.J. 'Instead, it took me three self-helpbooks and two years to make peace with the fact that someone I thought was a good friendended our friendship.'
There are 50 ways to leave your lover, according to Paul Simon. But how many ways are thereto leave a friend?
I know, it's a terrible question. But think about it: Some of the worst breakups in our lives arenot with romantic partners. They are with friends -- the people with whom we often share ourdeepest thoughts. Friends provide guidance, encouragement, laughter and a refuge. Losinga good friend can be one of the saddest experiences in life.
And yet, many friendships just don't last. Some simply fizzle out, victims of routine life eventssuch as moves, job changes, divorce or a divergence of interests.
Others end badly. Rob Wilson, 53, a writer in Atlanta, saw a 12-year friendship abruptly endafter he mentioned he was voting for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. ArthurNewton, 46, a hotel manager from Austin, Texas, had a female friend tell him she couldn't hangout with him anymore because her husband was jealous.
有些则是不欢而散。53岁的罗伯·威尔逊(Rob Wilson)是亚特兰大的一位作家。在2004年的总统大选中，他向朋友提到自己投了布什(George W. Bush)的票，之后两人之间12年的友谊就戛然而止了。得克萨斯州奥斯汀46岁的酒店经理亚瑟·牛顿(Arthur Newton)的一个女性朋友告诉他，因为她丈夫嫉妒，所以她无法继续和他做朋友了。
Michael Hassard watched a good friend run away from him -- literally. He had heard his pal hadbegun dating his ex-girlfriend, so Mr. Hassard, 39, a NASA engineer from Muscle Shoals, Ala.,approached him in church one day to ask about it. But before he could speak, his friend turnedand fled down a hallway, out the door and into his car. He and his former buddy never spokeagain.
Friendships are such a nuanced and intriguing relationship that we even follow celebrity friendbreakups, as we do their romances. Why else would we care about Mariana Pasternak but forher tell-all book about her former friendship with Martha Stewart, which ended after Ms.Pasternak testified at Ms. Stewart's 2004 trial.
友谊是一种微妙而动人的关系，我们甚至会像关注名人情侣分手一样关注名人朋友分手。如果不是玛丽安娜·巴斯特纳克(Mariana Pasternak)那本有关她和“家政女皇”玛莎·斯图尔特(Martha Stewart)从前友谊的“全揭秘”书，我们又怎么会关注她呢?2004年斯图尔特受审时，巴斯特纳克曾出庭作证，之后两人的友谊就结束了。
'It's a myth that friendships last forever,' says Irene S. Levine, a psychologist, professor ofpsychiatry at New York University's medical school and author of 'Best Friends Forever:Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend.' We are tied to our family by blood and our spousesby law, so we are often more attentive to those relationships. 'Friendships are relationships ofchoice, so we tend to overlook them,' she says.
纽约大学医学院精神病学教授、心理学家艾琳·莱文(Irene S. Levine)说，友谊地久天长的说法纯粹是天方夜谭。她曾著有《永远都是好朋友》(Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend)一书。她说，我们与家人之间靠血缘关系维系，和配偶之间靠法律关系维系，所以我们对家人和配偶更用心;友谊则是你选择的，所以我们往往会忽视。
As a result, many friendships die from neglect, Dr. Levine says. And this in itself poses a verysticky problem in friendship breakups: How do you know if you're being neglected -- ordumped? What if your friend is always too busy to get together but always seems to have agood excuse? What if she never calls you, but seems happy enough to hear from you when youcall?
And there's the rub. There are no rules or even societal norms for friendship breakups. Friendswho want to split don't go to counseling or get a mediator or a lawyer, as divorcing couplesdo. And there typically aren't a bunch of nosy relatives willing to intervene and relaymessages, as there are when a split is within a family.
Also, dissolving a friendship is harder than ever these days, with so many digital ties holding ustogether, from social-networking Web sites like Facebook to stored numbers in cellphones.
Dave Nadkarni can tell you all about it. When he decided to end a relationship a few years agowith a close female friend he felt was spreading rumors about him, he stopped returning hercalls, defriended her on Facebook, blocked her on his instant-message list, stopped followingher on Twitter and changed her name in his cellphone to 'Do Not Pick Up.' 'It was cathartic,' hesays.
But it didn't work. His friend got the hint and stopped calling him, and he has successfullyavoided seeing her in real life. But he still runs into her constantly online, every time a mutualfriend retweets her Twitter posts or she leaves a comment on a mutual Facebook friend'sstatus update.
'It sucks,' says Mr. Nadkarni, 29, a sales rep for a security company in Las Vegas. 'It's like thedog that's stuck on your leg that you can't shake off.'
So how do you finish off a friendship? Are some ways better than others?