Credit: Ciara McAlinden

Lifestyle Listens

By Katherine Prentice and Genevieve Brown

The Glasgow Guardian’s agony aunts contend with friendship breakups and clashing music tastes.

Over summer, I finally cut off a friend who I knew for the entirety of my school years. Our relationship endured purely out of convenience within a larger friend group, my distaste for confrontation and ability to keep up small talk during the outings we would see each other. I felt we were totally different in terms of political views and general interests and I knew for a long time that I no longer wanted to be associated with her. In the end I simply stopped replying to her texts. This is the first time in my life where I have actively severed ties with a friend. Months have passed and I still feel guilty. Is this a universal experience, that you can’t go through life without making some enemies?

Katherine: First of all, well done. It is incredibly hard to end a friendship, and it does sound like this was the best thing for you. And yes, it is impossible to go through life without making enemies, unless you crush yourself in the process. It doesn’t sound like you are overthinking it, as I said it is a difficult thing to do, but don’t feel so guilty for prioritising yourself and your needs. In all likelihood, they will know what they have done, even if they don’t admit it to themselves, and it may be easier for them to feel angry or resentful instead of acknowledging this. But this isn’t your problem; you took the mature route here. In my experience, other people will understand and won’t care that much, but if they do see you in a bad light then they were ready to for their convenience, and it isn’t worth being upset over. Soon, you may be able to be totally amicable, and acknowledge that the friendship didn’t work out but not need to hate each other. Be proud of it, this was a healthy and normal thing to do, and feeling bad is natural. 

Genevieve: Sometimes my view of friendship can be overly pragmatic and transactional, which will surprise anyone who has witnessed my attempts to complete literally any task. In this case, however, my suggestion to you is a practical one. The unlimited options that life offers us means that when we do one thing we are always neglecting another thing. This sounds dispiriting, but there is hope. You are neglecting tasks, or people, every time you choose an activity or a person over them. Every time you consider a friendship, or an invitation, you should think, is this worth neglecting something, or someone, else for? Is it something you want to prioritise?

This sounds selfish, I know, but I also believe it is the kinder thing when it comes to friendship. If you put yourself in this person’s shoes, wouldn’t you prefer that a friend of yours wasn’t forcing themselves to interact with you? I personally hate the thought of people contacting me or spending time with me out of a sense of duty. This person is better off spending time with someone who likes them! There are difficult cases when, for example, someone is going through a hard time and possibly isn’t their usual self, but this doesn’t sound like one of those times to me. It is important not to view your friend, or yourself, as a 24/7 entertainment machine which doesn’t ever experience tiredness or irritability. I was reading recently that the famously witty Oscar Wilde once missed his train, meaning he had to stay an extra night at his pal’s, and he was grumpy and boring and not at all his usual self! Wilde?!

“If you put yourself in this person’s shoes, wouldn’t you prefer that a friend of yours wasn’t forcing themselves to interact with you? I personally hate the thought of people contacting me or spending time with me out of a sense of duty.”

All this to say I understand your doubts that you aren’t cutting your friend the necessary slack. However, it sounds like your friendship-disconnect has been occurring for a while now, through the bad times and the good, and in summary I think you made the right decision. I also applaud your decision to ghost rather than offer an explanation because in a friendship scenario there wouldn’t be a way to express these feelings without causing unnecessary hurt. Having said that, I wanted to end this by saying that it is part and parcel of the human experience that you will cause inadvertent hurt, and sometimes even intentional hurt, over the course of your life. It is important to try to minimise the hurt you cause, of course, but don’t be harsh on yourself when it does happen. You don’t elaborate on the ways in which you were mistreated in your question, so I’m not sure if it was only the problematic views of this person which made them difficult to be around or if there was more to it. I hope you didn’t suffer too much from their presence in your life. At least this situation is bound to be a useful life experience, which will help you learn who you want to be friends with! Friendship breakups are so tough, but you executed this one perfectly.

Help! My flatmate is becoming the worst thing imaginable…..a Dave Matthew’s fan. At first it was just one song he’d play in his playlist, but now it is his playlist. I’ve tried giving him therapy and trying to show him good music but it just won’t work, I’m concerned he’s becoming deaf because he seemingly just keeps enjoying it more and more. Should I just release my flatmate into the wild? Or should I just take him to animal control to be destroyed?

Katherine: This is a difficult one, but it sounds like he is too far gone. Release him into the wild so he can learn the error of his ways. If he finds his way home, he will have a new respect for you and understand that having bad taste is not acceptable. 

However, this can be tricky (see question above), so I think you can also tell him to turn it off. What he does in private is his business, as long as it isn’t bothering anyone. If it is, you totally have the right to tell him to stop. 

Genevieve: Okay but have you heard the belter that is Crash Into Me though? The lyrics are creepy but that guitar melody! It’s in Ladybird if you need a justification for being caught listening to Dave Matthews Band like myself. I just googled and the absence of apostrophe in their name is already annoying me – does the band belong to Dave Matthews (almost acceptable) or are they supposed to be celebratory of him (cringe because he is the lead singer, have some humility)?

I love this question. Thank you so much, it is so funny. For whatever reason I share my life with very few people who have the same music taste as me, and I also struggle to view this as anything other than a moral failing on their part. To my dismay, I have known two people who enjoy The Great Gatsby soundtrack; multiple musical theatre fans; and electro-swing fans if you can believe it (I can’t). On a serious note, if they are blasting tunes in your flat at times when you’d rather they didn’t, it is equally your living space and it is perfectly reasonable for you to request that they pop some headphones on. If you’re struggling to find common ground when you’re listening to music together, I’ve never met a single soul who isn’t delighted for another chance to listen to Rumours. My commiserations, and if it’s any consolation I’ve encountered some truly insufferable people who have my exact taste in art. Not me though, I’m great!


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments