My question is about a friendship I’m concerned about. So this person and I have been friends for 3 years, and became very close. We have trusted each other with very personal information and actually had a lot of fun spending time together. The thing is my friend recently opened up to me about being a Wiccan. and I as Christian don’t know how to feel about this friendship anymore. I told them that I don’t hate them for it (as they were scared I would leave them if I knew about this) but I don’t want it to affect me or us as friends. I would be sad to let go of this friendship but I don’t think my trust is the same now and if our friendship is appropriate concerning our different beliefs. What should I do? How could I politely walk away without hurting their feelings?
If you’re not comfortable being friends with someone anymore, you are allowed to walk away. The same thing is true regardless of the circumstance. For a relationship to end, all it takes is one person, and it sounds from your letter like you’re no longer comfortable with it.
If you cannot trust this person anymore, and if you don’t feel safe in that friendship, there is only one way to go:
Friend, thank you for opening up to me about your religion. I know it was a big deal, and I realize how much your religious beliefs mean to you. However, I’m not sure I can reconcile the fact that our religions are so different, and I think the best thing for us would be if we didn’t see each other or speak for now. I’m going to mute/block my social media feeds from you to make this easier. Thank you for understanding.
Then follow through on that. Block them or mute them (whatever makes the most sense) and then make an effort to protect your boundaries as best as possible. That is how you walk away politely — by giving the person all the information they need and then making it as clean of a break as possible.
Having said that, if you’re not sure whether or not religion is a dealbreaker for you, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Does this information change how I view my relationship with Friend?
- Does it change our interactions?
- Do I feel safe with them? Are they safe with me?
For my friends, religion is not a dealbreaker. But if one of us felt like they couldn’t trust the other or didn’t feel safe in the other’s presence, then our friendship is already over.
Since you say your trust is not the same, what does that mean for you? How does that change the way you interact together? What do you mean when you say you’re not sure your friendship is “appropriate” anymore? Is that because of how the two of you interact, or do you only feel this way because of how other people will perceive your friendship once they learn your religious differences?
Think through those questions for yourself. Journal them out. Address them as a letter to God, if that helps you. Don’t think about it as an assignment, but rather a way to work through everything that’s in your heart. If, at the end of it, you decide your trust is irrevocably gone, then the best thing to do is walk away.
Here’s what you can’t do: You cannot control how your friend will feel about it.
They’re human. This is a three-year friendship. Of course they will have feelings about it ending. The only thing you can control is how much space you give them to grieve and move on.
Memories and lessons from a friendship can be good, even if the ending is bittersweet. Believe that you and your friend changed each other’s lives for the better. And believe that by letting them go, you are doing both of you a kindness – you are freeing yourselves to be with the people that you feel safest with.
Who knows, perhaps one day you’ll speak again.