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Want to know how to end a friendship?
Losing a friend is hard but sometimes necessary. Psychologist and author Irene Levie gives the lowdown on when it’s time to say goodbye to a friend – and how to go about doing it…
‘Amy and I would be friends forever, I thought, until our relationship reached a tipping point – although her life was filled with drama and she dragged me into every single episode, I knew I couldn’t count on her for emotional support.
The crunch came when I asked her to come with me to a doctor’s appointment I was worried about. She said she would rather meet for lunch than ‘waste’ her time in a waiting room.
It went around in my head for ages before I realised it was time to pull the plus, but how do you end a friendship?
As it happens, Amy moved to another country providing an easy excuse for less contact, but what if you’re not so fortunate and need to end a friendship yourself?
Losing a friend is hard. There’s a sense of disappointment and loss, as we’ve invested time, shared intimacies and acquired mutual friends. Here’s how to handle a friendship break-up gracefully…
1. Trust your instincts
Friendships are voluntary and should be mutually satisfying. Maintaining negative or ambivalent ones can take a physical and emotional toll on your health. So if you find yourself always picking the sympathetic listener, or picking up the pieces in what seem to be a continual set of dramas, then maybe it’s time to call time.
2. De-friending by stages
Changing circumstances can lead to a gradual feeling of being disconnected. The most common example is friends we meet through our children. While we’re all in the same parenting boat, we have lots in common and, sometimes, school gates mates can be friends for life. Equally as the kids grow up, our own shared interests dwindle. If one-to-ones become strained, just seeing each other as part of a group can be the answer.
3. Do you just need a break?
We all have friends who are good in certain circumstances or when we feel in the right mood. Pushing a friendship beyond its natural boundary can be why certain habits – whether it’s their tendancy to always switch arrangements at the last minute or go on a bit too long about their luxury holiday – begin to grate. Sometimes you just need to take a break from each other for a while. If that’s the case, be busy with work or family for a period of time, and let a gap occur naturally. Chances are, your friend may feel the same.
4. When a friendship goes lopsided
True friends give more than they ask but there are also those that befriend because they want something from you. It may be an introduction into your social or even work inner circle, or they may just crave your attention. If you find yourself bombarded with texts, calls and social media messages from needy, or just insensitive, friends, scale back your responses and keep them on your outer social circle.
5. Don’t be hasty
Finding a supposed good friend has acted against you is horribly wounding. Betraying a confidence, sneakily exploiting a contact you’ve introduced to them or criticising you to a third party are just a few of the detonators to trigger a row. If it proves to be the last straw, don’t end things in a blazing argument. Instead, do it at a time when you are both relaxed and not in a public setting. Chances are, you may both have second thoughts.
6. Deliver the message
If you really feel you have to say something, keep it simple and take responsibility for your decision. Don’t use a split to deliver a litany of stored-up complaints – after all, she was once your friend. Just say you’d feel better cooling the friendship. Remember, whatever you say, this is a conversation that won’t soon be forgotten.
7. Don’t involve others
Don’t try to justify your decision by garnering support from mutual friends. It will only make them feel uncomfortable. If they ask what has happened, provide vague, non-specific details.
8. Stay the course
It’s natural to romanticise and remember the very best parts of a relationship after a break-up. You may also feel lonely if you had previously spent a great deal of time together. Don’t forget you made this tough decision with great forethought, to allow room in your life for more satisfying and rewarding friendships.’