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Q: “Is it reasonable to break up with someone/end a friendship because the other person is not vegan? I’ve been broken up with AND dumped by my best friend (of 7 years) because of my choice to continue eating animal products. I am respectful of THEIR choice and have my own reasons for my diet. Am I completely unreasonable for being really fucking hurt?”
A: Hello friend! Firstly, I’ve written an entire You Need Help about cunnilingus and this still might be the gayest question I’ve ever answered. I think you’ve won, friend. Regardless of what I say going forward, I think you’ve won.
I’m sorry that you’re hurting. It sucks to get dumped, regardless of the kind of relationship it is. And it sounds like you’ve gotten double-whammied! You’ve been dumped by a best friend AND person you were dating, and all for a very personal choice to continue eating animal products. I notice you didn’t say meat—you might even be a vegetarian and this is all going down.
There is a question in here, though, that deserves detaching from your particular scenario for further examination: what is a reasonable reason to dump someone. Friend, I’m not sure you’re going to like this bit of what I have to say, but any reason is a reasonable reason to dump someone. When a person wants to not see another person anymore for any reason, that person has enough of a reason to dump. If there is something so important to that person that they will dump someone for it, well then. To paraphrase the great Taylor Swift, Dumper’s gonna dump dump dump.
The other side of the dumper’s right to dump at will is the dumpee’s right to be, as you say “really fucking hurt.” Even if you perceived the reason for the end of the relationship as a valid reason, one that didn’t sound silly at all, you would still have the right to be really fucking hurt. It’s the feeling you’re feeling. You should totally breathe into that feeling, accept that it’s there, and FEEL IT. Furthermore, the dumper has the right to feel really negative feelings about it too! Everyone gets to be sad for a while when a relationship ends. It’s sad. Endings often are.
So. That said. This sounds like kind of a stupid reason to end a seven year friendship. When you put all of that back in the context of getting dumped because you eat cheese or honey, it sounds…almost laughable? See, I barely want to say it, because everyone’s allowed to have things that are really important to them. I’ve dumped someone before because they don’t read. Reading and writing are the corner stones of my life, so it’s really important to me that my friends and partner can engage with me in that space. But I’m sure to another person, a person for whom that’s not true, that sounds really dumb. These people who only want to be around other vegans, to connect with their friends in that space, are allowed to want that. And I’m allowed to laugh at them a little, I suppose, and you are too. The same way I’m sure the person I dumped because they don’t read is laughing at me.
I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that veganism isn’t really what came between you. I say this from experience—when the reason for the fight sounds silly, that’s not the reason for the fight. It’s the excuse for something much deeper, and the dumper doesn’t want to deal with confrontation. Veganism might be the stand-in for other ways you’ve grown apart or valid critiques of the way you two are together. But if the dumper doesn’t want to go there, they will pick veganism. It is easy to explain. In this case, you should take comfort in the fact that someone who’s really bad at communicating with you has weeded themselves out of your life. Or that someone with whom you have nothing in common anymore has removed themselves, hopefully with as little drama as possible.
But let’s take the dumper at face value for a second—let’s say it is actually because you’re not vegan. Well then. You are still well shot of this person. Who wants to move through an entire seven year friendship carefully respecting someone else’s very personal choices only to have that care, concern and respect go entirely unreciprocated? No one, that’s who. Especially since diet is SO personal. All sorts of things go into one’s dietary choices or restrictions—affordability of food in your neighborhood, medical conditions, allergies, ethics. Even though there are many really great and smart reasons to be a vegan, it’s not a viable option for everyone. Most vegans know that. So feel your very sad feelings on this one, but when you’re ready to pick yourself up and keep walking, you may want to reframe this breakup. Because in either case, whether they were being honest with you or not, good riddance. You should feel no shame about prancing off into the sunset, free of what sounds like a really burdensome relationship.