Advice On How To End A Friendship
Updated July 12, 2019
You may have several reasons to end a friendship. Maybe you caught your spouse cheating on you with your best friend. Maybe your friend has wronged you in some other way. Or maybe you simply grew apart, and your interests are not in line with those of your friend any longer.
No matter the reason, it can be difficult to end a friendship. Where do you start? How do you do it? Read on for more information on how to end a friendship gracefully.
How To End A Friendship With Your Best Friend
Above all other friendships, ending a friendship with your best friend can be the hardest. You've spent the most amount of time together, and you've experienced everything together. From deaths and births to marriage and divorce, in drunkenness and sobriety, you two have been there for each other through thick and thin.
The first thing you should do is ask yourself why you want to throw away a friendship with so much history. Has the friendship become too toxic? Is your friend more of a drain than an enjoyable person to hang out with? Or did you two just have a major fight that, with some time apart to clear your heads, may be nothing more than another hurdle that you can clear together?
Ending a friendship can be difficult. But if you have tried spending time apart from your friend to gain a little clarity, and it doesn't seem to be working, then you may just have to end that friendship once and for all.
How To Know When To End A Friendship
Sometimes it's not so clear when we should stop forgiving our friends and end the friendship entirely. However, it can be crucial to our mental health that we end the friendship sooner rather than later. When is it time to end a friendship and stop giving that one friend endless second chances?
There are certain things friends can do that can flat-out kill a relationship. For starters, betrayal is something that many friendships don't survive. Telling people your secrets or dating someone you are dating or were interested in (or married to) are two of the largest offenders. In this case, you have to decide whether the betrayal was bad enough that you might never want to be friends with that person again, or if it's something you can work out in time.
You may also want to pay attention to your body's physical cues. Just you receive signals when something isn't right with your own body; your body will also give you signals when you're around a toxic friend. If you walk away from your friend at the end of the day feeling more depressed, stressed, or otherwise unhappy than you were when you started the day, then you may want to put an end to the friendship. Some people have significantly stronger reactions to a toxic friend, like stomachaches or headaches.
If your friend is boring or embarrassing, you may want to end the friendship. Friends are supposed to be people who pick us up, laugh with us, support us, and are people we are proud to call friends. If you'd rather be watching a movie then spending time with her, or if you hate the fact that you constantly have to make excuses for introducing her to your other friends and family, then it sounds like you are not enjoying a healthy relationship with this person, and you should explore other possibilities with new friends.
The less scandalous ending to many friendships is that people grow apart. For example, most people do not remain friends as adults with the people they were friends with in high school. This means real friends who spend time with each other outside of work, not just acquaintances on Facebook or some other form of social media. This is perfectly healthy. As we get older and grow, our priorities change, and the things we value may not be the same as the values we used to share with our friends.
One of the most common examples of this is the friend who wants to get married and have a family versus the friend who wants to stay a bachelor or bachelorette forever. It's hard to be on the same page with a friend who values making keg stands over raising children who will grow into respectable adults.
Tips To Remember Going In
Once you've decided to break up with your friend, there are some things you may want to keep in mind before you do the deed. For one thing, you may want to prepare and memorize a script of sorts, as chances are your friend will remember this moment for many years to come, perhaps even forever.
Ever hear of "don't kiss and tell"? The same applies here. You owe it to the friendship you shared with your friend to keep the details of the ending of the friendship discreet. This is especially true for your mutual friends as, of course, your mutual friends are likely to go back and tell your friend everything you were thinking before, during, and after you broke things off.
Never break up with a friend while you and your friend are angry. Let the dust settle first to be sure that this is what you truly want.
And, above all, do your best to remain kind, even if it means telling a lie. This person was once your friend, and at one point their friendship was something that you valued and trusted. You may have come to terms already with moving on in your mind, but this is all still new for your friend. He or she needs time to process everything, and s/he will be feeling rather vulnerable at this point. Even if you have come to despise your friend for what s/he did to end the friendship, remember how you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot.
The "Fade-Out" Approach
Sometimes we just know when to end a friendship. It can be painful, or a major relief. To begin, you can start with the "fade-out approach." You'll want to slow the lines of communication between you and your friend until your friend gets the hint and moves on.
Don't ghost him or her entirely, because this is incredibly rude and you wouldn't want someone to do that to you. However, don't be so quick to answer his or her texts or emails, and when you do answer, be sure to give curt or uninteresting answers that will prevent your friend from continuing.
If your friend tries to make plans to get together with you, start saying "no" more often until your friend understands that "no" will be your default answer going forward. You can say you already have plans, or that you simply have too much work or homework to catch up on, and you just don't have time.
The "Break-Up" Approach
If you've tried the "fade-out approach," and your friend isn't getting the hint, then it may be time to cut straight to the point and "break up" with your friend. Don't do this by text or email, as it is disrespectful and only makes you look like a coward. Instead, schedule a time and place for you and your friend to meet, then explain to your friend that you two are no longer on the same page and that you should end the friendship.
You can spare your friend's feelings by not addressing the reasons why they grate on you but explaining just the same that you can no longer be the friend that they want you to be. No matter how irritated you are by your friend's conduct, you owe it to your friend to be open and honest with them about your decision to move on.
For instance, if it was a particular incident that spurned this "break-up" that you simply can't put past you, then put it to your friend in those terms. You may want to say something like "I trusted you, and you betrayed that trust when you did what you did."
Granted, if the "break-up" is over something like your friend running away with your spouse, then having a conversation like this is probably a moot point. Your friend probably assumes (and may not care) that your friendship is all but dead, and more than likely, you no longer want to spend any time in the same room as your former friend, let alone give them the all-too-obvious explanation as to why you're moving on.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure that ending the friendship is what you truly want, because once you make that decision and put it out into the ether, it's nearly or downright impossible to fix it.
Are you struggling with ending a friendship? Consider reaching out to one of our counselors, who can give you more advice and help you with the next steps toward ditching that toxic friend and embracing your future happiness.