How to get rid of a German friend

A complaint you’ll frequently hear from foreigners living in Germany is that it’s very difficult to make German friends. However, once a friendship has been established, it’s going to last, unlike those “easy come, easy go” friendships in other cultures.

This is completely true and the few exceptions you might encounter just confirm the rule1. Which leads me to the topic of this article: How to get rid of a German friend when he (or she2) fully expects your friendship to last until the end of time3.

Say you don’t want to be friends anymore

In theory, it seems this might work: Germans are very direct, so why not just make an appointment, arrive on time and tell your friend that it’s over? Because not only are friendships sacred in Germany, you also seem to have forgotten that Germans are right about everything all the time4. Your friend will interrogate you about the reasons for your unfathomable request, and then he’ll easily invalidate every single one.

Ending the friendship has to be his idea

The key to getting rid of a German friend is to offend him so much that he’ll not want to have you as a friend anymore. However, don’t go for the obvious choices like saying that you’d vote for the AfD, you think that nuclear energy is safe or that you’re in love with him. What would happen is that either your friend would reveal that he shares the same thoughts and feelings and was just too afraid to say so (and then you’d be closer friends than ever and might even have to enter into a civil union), or, if that’s not the case, he’d try everything to set you straight and get those wrong ideas out of your head. Why? Because he’s German, and you’re wrong5.

Move away

It’s simple enough: Quit your job, file for a divorce6, give away what’s left of your stuff and move to the other end of the world. Problem solved? Almost. There’s one final step.

Come back

If you had paid attention during your Integrationskurs, you’d know that an area of 50 km around your friend’s place is his Freundschaftsgebiet (friendship territory). If you ever enter his territory after having moved away, you are obligated to pay him a visit! Furthermore, you’ll have to spend a significant part of your time with him (100% if he has a Schlafsofa or guest bedroom). Failure to observe these rules will cause immediate and irreparable damage to your friendship. Which is exactly what you want!

So there you go

  1. Move away.
  2. Come back (for a visit or for good, doesn’t matter) but don’t tell your friend.
  3. Make sure your friend eventually finds out (e.g. by posting on Facebook about how much you enjoyed your trip to the city you used to live in or by running into him on the street and saying that you really wanted to let him know you were back, but had been too busy during the last months).
  4. Friendship over.

1 I’m telling you this as a German.

2 I’m going with “he” in this article because – no offense – everyone knows women can’t have sincere friendships.

3 This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be moving into the same retirement home together. While not particularly religious, many Germans are convinced some sort of apocalypse will happen in their lifetime (rather sooner than later).

4 A mistake many foreigners make, don’t beat yourself up over it.

5 Forgot it again, didn’t you?

6 I’m just going to assume that you’re married to a German spouse, why else would you be living in Germany?

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