Advice On How To End A Friendship

Updated March 29, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

When a friendship is healthy, it can have a range of positive effects on your life and well-being, including boosting your happiness, improving your confidence, and helping you cope with life’s challenges. What happens, though, when you feel like a friendship is no longer good for you? What if the person you considered a friend wronged you, or you seem to have differences that are not reconcilable? Sometimes, it may be best to end a friendship, but this can be a painful and difficult option to consider. If this is something you’re experiencing, read on for a few thoughts and ideas to keep in mind as you navigate this situation.

Ending a friendship can be difficult

How to know when it's time to end a friendship

The mere thought of ending a friendship can cause feelings of sadness or grief. While it is not something that new friends anticipate, with time and changes in circumstances, it may become inevitable. Recognizing when a friendship is becoming unhealthy or has become a one-sided friendship can be important, as this toxic or harmful behavior can have a range of negative effects on a person. 

Some things to consider when deciding whether or not to end a friendship include:

Does your friendship make you feel seen and supported?

If you cannot answer this question with certainty, you may not be experiencing a good friendship. Friendships that don't support a person's well-being or foster growth in one another may do just the opposite. If a friendship creates turmoil, reduces your confidence, or makes you feel small or on-edge, it may be time to walk away.

Have you created meaningful memories?

Healthy friendships involve talking and spending time together. These times together allow you to create memories that can be recalled with happiness, not anger or regret. If ill feelings toward one another overshadow the good memories and seem to hold more weight, this can signify that the friendship is in trouble.

Has your friend betrayed you?

Examples of betrayal in friendship could be your friend telling someone else something that you asked them to keep in confidence or lying to keep you from knowing things that they have done. If betrayal has occurred in your friendship, it is up to you to decide if the betrayal was significant enough to lose your friendship. If it is something you don’t want to jeopardize your friendship for, you can address the issue with your friend and try to reconcile things; but if it is not something you can get past, you may decide that ending the friendship is the best option. 

After visiting with your friend, is your mood better or worse?

True friends tend to encourage and pick one another up. Even during the worst times, a good friend can likely relieve some of the heaviness we feel. If you visit with a friend and leave worse or feeling like nothing you said or felt meant anything, you may want to evaluate the friendship.

Things to consider before ending a friendship

If you decide that ending your friendship is the best way forward, you may want to take your time to handle the situation carefully. Whatever the reasons that led you to this decision, you may not have a chance to undo it once it's done. It may help to think about why you want to end the friendship and rehearse what you'd like to say to your friend before you approach them. 

If you are dealing with anger toward your friend, you may want to take some time apart before you make the final step of ending the friendship. Decisions made in haste can often bring regret once the situation has resolved and emotions are settled down. 

In addition, remember to remain kind. This person that you are preparing to end a friendship with once held your secrets, and your sadness, and rejoiced with you. While you may have already come to terms with the fact that the friendship is not working for you, your friend may not see eye to eye with you. Being unkind will only cause more hurt in the end. Even if this person has become someone that you can't stand the thought of being around, try to consider how you may feel if they were the one ending the friendship and not you.

Ways to end a friendship

There are different approaches to ending a friendship. Every situation is different, so you may want to consider the circumstances related to why you feel the friendship needs to end and then think about how best to handle ending things. Below are a couple of different options to consider:

The "fade-out" approach

Ending a friendship may be painful. On the other hand, it could feel like a major relief following stress. If you know that the friendship is in trouble and don't see any way to resolve issues, you may find it best to back away slowly or "fade out." Limiting communication and contact slowly can give you the chance to adjust to life without your friend being involved, and it can also give your friend time to fill the gap your absence will bring with other things. In some cases, this sort of “fading out” can also feel very natural. It can make sense for both of you to naturally and gradually drift apart. That said, if the friendship is dangerous or has become toxic, this may not be the best approach.

The "break-up" approach

In other cases, you may decide that having a direct conversation to end the friendship would be the best approach. If you would like to end the friendship immediately, this may be the way to do it. Depending on the situation and the friendship, it may make sense to have this conversation in person. In this conversation, you don’t have to tell your friend everything they have ever done to make you angry or frustrate you. If something significant happened that you can't get past, you might feel like it is important to tell your friend what happened that hurt you and how you feel it was detrimental to the friendship. However, you can also simply state that you don't feel like your friendship is beneficial to your own emotional well-being or conducive to your growth and that you feel like you both would benefit by simply stepping away. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Ending a friendship can be difficult

Where to seek help

The end of a friendship can be painful, even if you are confident that it was the right decision. If you would like support coping with the aftermath of a friendship or determining how best to handle a complicated friendship, online therapy can help. There may be a variety of concerns and dynamics at play with friendships, and research has found online therapy to be just as effective as in-person sessions for a range of concerns. 

For some people, talking about the end of a friendship can feel very painful, and it may feel easier to have these conversations in a place where they already feel comfortable. With online therapy, you can meet with a therapist from wherever you have internet, including the comfort of home. 

Read below for some reviews of Regain counselors from people experiencing similar concerns.

Counselor reviews

"My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion."

"I tend to feel too much obligation or responsibility for others and offer too much of myself. He picked up on this and made me aware so that I can set healthy boundaries. I have been to counselors in the past, and I think there is something to learn from everyone, but I find my engagement here is held a little more accountable, which is what I need because otherwise, I tend to fall back on the excuse of being very busy. All in all, we have a long way to go, but my experience so far has been wonderful. I look forward to us both realizing a transformation of myself that we have undertaken together."


If you have reached a point where you feel that ending a friendship is best, it can be difficult to handle and figure out how to move forward. If you would like further support as you navigate this situation and try to cultivate more fulfilling friendships, you can connect with a licensed therapist online for help. 

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