(Sept. 15, 2023) — Q. You’re either a narcissist or an empath these days, and I’m leaning toward narcissism because these self-diagnosed empaths drive me nuts. Especially my best friend, whom I love. But between her newly found identity of being an empath and her TikTok diagnosis of autism, I’m on the verge of losing my cool. What are your thoughts on friend breaks, and how long is an appropriate time to take a cooling period from a friend?
A. There’s a growing trend of individuals identifying themselves as either empaths or displaying narcissistic tendencies. It’s essential to approach these labels and self-diagnoses with caution and skepticism.
Narcissism and empathy exist on a spectrum, and trained professionals should make valid diagnoses. It can be frustrating when people adopt these labels without thoroughly understanding the underlying psychology or using them for attention-seeking purposes.
It appears that your best friend’s recent self-identification as an empath and her TikTok diagnosis of autism have been challenging for you to navigate. It’s understandable that you might feel overwhelmed or frustrated by these developments, especially if they change the dynamics of your friendship.
Beth, please recognize that friendships can sometimes benefit from a cooling-off period. Like any other relationship, friendships can experience strain, disagreements or changing dynamics over time. A break can allow both parties to gain perspective, recharge and reflect on their feelings.
The duration of a friend break is highly individual and depends on the specific circumstances and the needs of those involved. Here are some factors to consider when determining the appropriate length of a friend break:
Communication: Having an open and honest conversation with your friend about the need for a break is crucial. Discuss your feelings, concerns and what you hope to achieve during the break. Together, you can decide on a reasonable timeframe.
Purpose: Consider the purpose of the break. Is it to gain perspective on the friendship, address specific issues or take a temporary step back? The purpose will influence the duration of the break.
Mutual agreement: Ideally, you and your friend should agree on the break length to ensure that both parties feel comfortable with the timeframe.
Flexibility: Be open to reassessing the duration if needed. What initially seemed like a reasonable timeframe might need to be extended or shortened based on evolving circumstances.
Reconnection plan: Before the break begins, discuss how you plan to reconnect and how to rebuild the friendship. Having a plan in place can provide a sense of direction and purpose.
Self-care: During the break, focus on self-care and personal growth. You can use this time to reflect on your needs, goals and well-being.
Taking a break from a friend can be a healthy and constructive way to address challenges within a friendship. I think the appropriate length of the break should be determined through open communication and consideration of the specific circumstances. Ultimately, the goal should be to preserve and strengthen the friendship when both parties are ready to reconnect.
Be well; you are worthy.
Email questions and comments to Dominique at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dominique King is a blogger who centers around marriage, family, fitness and personal growth. Her insightful and practical approach to advice gives everyday couples, parents and individuals a space to get answers to their questions.