Despite the intimacy of those relationships, Bryant says it’s not unusual for a client to stop coming. In most cases, Bryant usually assumes the person has moved on or is growing their hair out.
While Bryant isn’t bothered by these phantom customers, she adds that she prefers to know why someone stopped coming.
“It’s useful to know for growth reasons,” says Bryant. If something she said turned them off, she wants to know so she doesn’t repeat the behavior. If it’s because she doesn’t offer a specific service, it may help her figure out how to grow her business.
“I really wish they were more direct,” she says. Bryant appreciates clients who tell her, “Hey, this will be my last date for a while,” she says, or “Hey, I miss you, but that covid hair looks good. I will contact you when the time is right.
When we think of our most precious relationships, we may think of family, loved ones, or best friends. But the platonic connections are often the web that binds us to our daily routines and our communities: the babysitter who arrives in a pinch, the co-worker who knows how much you love your coffee. Others, like hairdressers or doctors, help us show off.
But like in any relationship, sometimes you have to move on. Doing it in non-romantic situations can be awkward. We have a seemingly endless supply of resources and referrals for healthy (and less healthy) breakups. But for platonic and casual relationships? Not really.
So we asked the experts: how do you end these relationships intentionally?
Your initial instinct for ending a casual relationship might be to ghost them. It’s a normal impulse, said Neathery Falchuk, licensed social worker and owner of Ample and Rooted, a therapy practice in Austin. After all, it is much easier to avoid a conflict that could become awkward or uncomfortable than to assert yourself and your limits. But depending on the nature of the interaction and your intimacy with the person, it may or may not be the right thing to do.
For one thing, if the person hurt you or has a habit of crossing the boundaries you set, you don’t have to put yourself back in that position, Falchuk says. This is especially true if there’s a power imbalance in the relationship: if they’ve used microaggressions or if they’ve refused to accommodate your disability. In this case, ghosting may be appropriate – or become appropriate if it continues to push the issue.
On the other hand, if the relationship has been friendly or you’ve had a longer history, providing closure is a more satisfying and mature thing to do, advises Marjorie Rossignola licensed marriage and family therapist in DC
It’s as simple as the golden rule: If you were in their shoes, would you want or expect the relationship to end? This is especially true if the other person provides a service and depends on income from the relationship, such as a childcare provider, beautician or therapist, Falchuk says. Giving advance notice gives them time to fill your slot in their books or otherwise take care of business.
You might say, “Hey, next time will be my last time,” or “I’d like to talk about an end date,” advises Falchuk.
No matter how you do it, ending the relationship with care and compassion is a way to respect that person, honor the relationship, and show your appreciation for the role they played in your life.
The rule of thumb for diffusing these interactions is to keep them short and sweet. If you’re feeling anxious (which is normal!), it can be helpful to prepare a script, take notes, or discuss what you’re going to say with a friend ahead of time, advises Falchuk.
“Be brief, direct, compassionate and give yourself a time limit where you can say, I have to go to another meeting,” they say.
Nightingale advises conducting the conversation with appreciation. This could apply to one-on-one relationships or social groups, such as a monthly book club: “Start with a short note of appreciation for the time you spent together, then let them know you’re moving on. thing and wish them the best. You don’t need to go into a long apologetic explanation as to why you’re ending the relationship, she notes.
Then, if the person asks for an explanation or feedback, it’s up to you whether you oblige, Nightingale says. If the relationship is professional, you might respond with a few comments as a courtesy. Falchuk offered a common formula for this, whether you end the relationship or strive to maintain one. It goes like this:
“When ______, I feel ______, and I need ______.”
For example: “When you misinterpret me, I feel shame and frustration, and I need you to use my correct pronouns,” they say. Or if you’re ending the relationship, you could say, “When I asked you to use my pronouns and you had trouble doing it, I got really frustrated, so I’m going to have to find a new one. hairdresser. ”
In this formula, the “I” statements speak more to your specific experiences and feelings, rather than a characterization of the person. Sticking to a formula can help keep you brief while affirming your values.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the other person will receive your message. They may push back or offer an incentive to keep the relationship going – “I’ll give you a free service next time”, for example. In that case, says Nightingale, you can simply reiterate your message: “I’m grateful, but this will truly be my last day.” Or for a casual friendship, you could offer this simple but polite response: “I think we’ve gone as far as we could.”
If they react with aggression or resistance, says Nightingale, “that’s their thing to deal with. It’s not yours. You are under no obligation to reason with them, and if they continue to push back, it may be further confirmation that you made the right decision.
Comments help people grow
For Bryant, DC’s barber, honest feedback helps him run a better business.
She called back a client who was suffering from hair loss. He was asking her what he could do to prevent it – something that was beyond her expertise, she said. She advised him to see a dermatologist.
He finally told her that he would stop coming: his expertise and his needs did not match. But Bryant says that experience ultimately helped her and her business. Her shop now offers hair units – sometimes called toupées – to help customers with hair loss feel more confident.
Falchuk says it’s important to assert your needs “as soon as you are able to notice dissatisfaction.” Start by trying to name it: what’s wrong and how can we fix it? For example, you might say to your therapist, “I want to do this work in a different way. What do you think about that?” they advise. For a social group like a book club or a knitting group, you can set up regular check-ins: How’s it going? What are we doing too much or too little of?
These questions act as a routine interview and allow the other person or group to adapt to meet your needs. It also softens the blow and allows for a more open and healthy exit if it comes time to part ways.
Ultimately, it’s important to be kind to yourself as you navigate the end of relationships big and small, Falchuk says. Make sure what you’re doing is hard, but important.
“Setting boundaries is taking care of yourself,” they say. “We are not taught how to leave a relationship in a truly satisfying way, so offer yourself some compassion in the moment: this is a time of anxiety. Others have certainly felt this too. I am not alone. “