How to Alienate a Toxic Friend from Your Friend Group

Do you have that one person in your group of friends that no one seems to like but everyone puts up with to avoid confrontation? This is a tricky situation because no one wants to be the bad guy and tell the unwanted person to scram. Luckily there are subtle yet effective methods to ice out the toxic person.


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    Sound out the rest of the group. First it is important to casually and nonchalantly gauge where the rest of the friend group stands on the matter of the undesired person. If the general consensus is to kick this person from the group, then proceed with the following steps.
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    Start avoiding the unwanted friend in every way possible. Fail to invite him or her to meals, forget to text him or her back, cancel plans you may have made with this person, or decline immediately when offered by the individual. This is important because doing this over time will force the unwanted friend to fill their spare time with other people.
    • For example, if you and your friends no longer have lunch with the unwanted friend then he or she will find someone else to eat with over time. This is crucial because it makes the process of cutting ties much easier down the road, knowing the unwanted friend has new friends or acquaintances to fall back on.
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    Create physical distance between the rest of the friends and the unwanted friend. This means that if he or she is roommates with one of your friends or you, promptly move rooms, or apartments. Isolation from the unwanted person makes the split more likely. It triggers a desperate sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in the unwanted friend. This step is where things could get heated. The unwanted friend may become confrontational and ask why the group is distancing themselves from him or her. A response to this would be to cite past arguments or disagreements, and to have a few excuses in your back pocket for back up.
    • For example, the new place is closer to work, the new place is bigger, or the new place is in a better area. Almost anything will do, as long as you sell it! Make it seem as if this little attribute that your current situation with the unwanted friend is lacking means the world to you.
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    Take a breather and reconvene with your desired friend group (minus the unwanted friend). Now that everyone is away from the unwanted friend, everything becomes easier. The only line of communication is a text at this point, and texts are easy to ignore and deflect from a distance without the risk of an in-person confrontation. Plan parties and go out as normal with your group of friends and continue to exclude the unwanted friend. Post pictures to social media appropriately, not flagrantly, so as to not be overtly trying to make the unwanted friend feel bad. Any post made by anyone in the group will be seen by the unwanted friend, so no need to overdo it. Be certain that he or she is looking to see what his or her old friends are up to.
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    Be politely clear about the distancing. At some point, the unwanted friend will want a reason or explanation as to why he or she was exiled from the group. Respond with concrete but general reasons that can be interpreted in many ways. This way your argument can withstand more backlash from the unwanted friend.
    • For example, say things like, "I just don't have the same priorities as you", or "I feel like we just sort of grew apart".
    • Fluff up the confrontation with general statements like "I don't think you're a bad person or anything", and other niceties tailored to the unwanted friend's soft spots.
    • Mention that you noticed posts of the unwanted friend with other people and assumed he or she had found new friends. Most certainly there are posts by now because he or she did not want to seem upset when noticing your friends' posts on social media.
    Remain extremely calm because at this point you have already alienated the unwanted friend from the group. If he or she knows that they have been excluded and unwanted for some time, then you and your group of friends have succeeded.
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    After the confrontation has subsided and the unwanted friend ends texting in an assumed huff or exits the apartment/dorm/house in an obvious huff, you are free of the friend. It is immensely important to not reach out to the unwanted friend for any reason. Any contact will open a line of communication that everyone just worked so hard to destroy.
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    Enjoy the more suitable group of friends you and the desired individuals painstakingly created.
    • Make sure to find something else to bring the group of friends together. For the past few weeks or months the common discussion and concern has been eradicating the unwanted friend. Having a common enemy brings people closer together. Now that the enemy is gone, it could be hard to not single out the next weakest link in the group of friends. Instead, find other things to bring everyone together. Plan lots of parties and share in each others lives as much as possible.


  • Distancing yourself from someone who has been part of your friendship group is a challenging exercise and can cause you to feel mean and unkind. However, you need to think about your own well-being and the health of the good friendships as a whole; while this person will feel hurt and left out for a time, there is a need to balance regaining a healthier and better friendship circle with the short-term hurt being caused.


  • If you fail to be clear about your distancing behavior, you can easily end up behaving in a passive-aggressive way. Sometimes it is simply better to be frank and get to the point that your friendship isn't working out for any of you, especially toward the end stage when the unwanted friend starts asking uncomfortable questions.
  • Do not say anything that is mean or disparaging of the unwanted friend's character. It is one thing to exit a toxic relationship, it is quite another thing to deliberately wound a person's feelings. Even if you think this unwanted friend has no feelings, that is not an assumption you're entitled to make. Act with respect for his or her feelings by keeping things factual and not resorting to name-calling or character assassination.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends | Handling Friendship Problems