How To End a Friendship
In many ways, friendships are just like romantic relationships. Both require selflessness, affection, and commitment. And both can end.
Friendships end often, whether that means moving away and not seeing each another enough, growing up and growing apart, or the hardest one of all, ending a friendship because it’s no longer serving you. This last one can be described as a friend “breakup”.
There are lots of potential reasons why you might need to breakup with a friend, but most of them have clear signs that somethings not right:
- Hanging out with that person leaves you feeling drained or edgy
- You don’t like how you act around that person
- The friendship isn’t balanced, meaning they don’t reciprocate your feelings and energy
- They guilt or pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do
- You need to psyche yourself up to spend time with that person
- They make you feel bad about yourself
- You fight a lot
Really, the biggest sign you need to end a friendship is if that friend leaves you feeling bad or unhappy more than good or happy.
If you’ve seen any of these signs in one of your friendships, it might be time for a friend breakup. But how do you go about it?
There are ways to break up with a friend in a kind yet clear way. These do NOT include ghosting. Even if they are being a huge ass to you, you need to be the bigger person and explain that you are cutting off the relationship before you actually do it. You also need to be careful to not equate your friend experience with who they are as a person. Just because the two of you aren’t compatible as friends doesn’t mean that they are inherently toxic. Instead, try:
Taking a Break
You might just need some space to clear your head and gather your thoughts, especially if you’ve recently gotten in a big fight.
Being Clear About What You Want
Before going into a breakup, make sure you’re clear about your wants and goals. Do you want to end all contact completely or do you just need some space? Do you have another goal in mind? Try journaling or talking to a trusted friend, therapist or mentor about the situation.
Talking in Person
No matter how much more stressful an in-person chat may be, it’s always kinder and more respectful to have the discussion in person rather than via text, email or on the phone. However, the exception to this rule is if the friendship is abusive and meeting in person might put you in danger. In these cases, send a kind yet clear message about the end of the relationship.
Using “I” Statements
Phrasing your thoughts as “I feel/want/need/think” will help keep the conversation from feeling like an attack and might help the other person from getting defensive.
Ending a friendship is just as hard if not harder than ending a romantic relationship. But you need to protect your happiness and health, and that often means moving on to better, deeper friendships that will give you the support and love you deserve.