How to Ditch Your Friends

Three Parts:Being Honest with Your FriendsWithdrawing QuietlyGoing from Friends to Acquaintances

It's sad when two close friends decide that they want to part ways. It's even sadder when one party has to let the other know when the formerly close friendship is now over. While it's never going to be easy, by sticking to your own resolve about why the friendship isn't working for you anymore and being honest and ultimately caring, you will find a way to end the friendship with dignity.

Part 1
Being Honest with Your Friends

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    Be certain in your own mind why the friendship is no longer working for you. Before you go about getting rid of people in your life, make sure you’re doing it for sound reasons. Are you stressed? Are they stressed? If so, now may not be the right time. But if this has been going on for a prolonged period of time and you just don’t feel good around them anymore, this is probably the right decision. Life is too short to be around those who don’t make us feel our best.
    • Knowing exactly why you want to the friendship over with will help you explain to this person (or persons) why you’re deciding to cut off the friendship. When you’re strong in your convictions, they’ll be a lot harder to argue with and to get angry about.
    • Make sure you're not doing this on a whim or out of anger. If you get the impulse to end the friendship, sleep on it. If you still feel the same urge the next day, it may be safe to move forward.
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    Get your friend in private and speak your mind. Initially, telling the truth about your feelings that the friendship has drawn to a natural conclusion may seem hard, but it can be the kindest thing to do in the long run and may save you the trouble of having to go through any other steps to end the friendship. Broach the topic gently with them. Take care to avoid placing blame or suggesting that your friend has character flaws that you can't stand anymore. This is partly about you, too.
    • For example, you might say something like, “I don't know know how you feel and I am willing to listen to what you think. But it's important that you understand that I don't feel like our friendship is working well anymore. There are now many times when I feel we've [grown apart/started to bicker all the time/gotten too used to putting each other down, etc.] and even though I've thought hard about this, I just don't feel we can fix this anymore. I feel we should see less of one another and be honest about what has happened to our friendship."
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    Stay objective and blame-free. Be aware that if you give specific reasons for ending the friendship, these reasons must be as objective and blame-free as possible. Any reasons that attack the character or actions of the other person are open to your friend responding by saying that they'll be a better friend, etc. and you risk getting stuck in an unwinnable argument. Focus on you and how you feel – things they cannot change.
    • To avoid a defensive response, keep your reasons for ending the close friendship broad and non-judgmental. You want to stay the bigger person in this situation.
    • Do not say negative things about your friend's character; this will raise defensiveness and can make you look mean and petty. If that happens, you may feel obliged to "repair" your nastiness and it'll take many more months before you feel strong enough to try undoing the friendship again.
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    Try to focus on facts, not opinions, and your own feelings. Criticize how you feel in the friendship rather than picking on your friend's annoying habits. You do not want them to feel attacked – nothing good can come from that (especially if you have mutual friends).
    • Be aware that anything you say will likely be construed negatively. This is only human and is a way of coping with pain. With this in mind, keep your message simple, kind and clear.
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    Be prepared to listen to what your friend has to say. This isn't a case of being "won over" by your friend's arguments that things will still work – it's about having the courtesy to show that you have listened. You can summarize how you see their side of the story and then repeat that despite that, you still feel that it's over from your side of things.
    • This conversation is likely to cause a lot of sadness, hurt and even anger on behalf of your friend. Be prepared to acknowledge this but don't let it be a reason for sweeping the problems under the carpet.
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    If things get heated, suggest that you meet up later to finish the conversation. Don't stand about taking abuse; angry responses are a sign that a timeout is needed. If closure doesn’t happen, that’s fine. You did what you had to do.
    • If your friend becomes upset during the conversation, don't feel compelled to explain your ways. Just repeat that you don't want to be close friends anymore. Emotions are going to be on high alert during this time, so it’s important you stay as logical as possible.
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    Be realistic when assessing the fate of the friendship. In some cases, it will be obvious to both of you that the friendship has been going nowhere for a while. Most likely, the friend will be having the same feelings and be relieved that you have been open about it – so try it. You shouldn't have to be stuck in a friendship that you aren't interested in.
    • Since you did it openly and honestly, both of you know where the pieces lie. It'll be easier for both of you to interact in the future, if and when you need to. However, if this isn't doable, the next section discusses abandoning the friendship in an indirect, passive way.

Part 2
Withdrawing Quietly

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    Slowly stop associating with the person. Sometimes “having the talk” just isn’t an option. In those cases, withdrawing from being friendly and chatty can help to send the message home. Begin to hang out with other people and don't return your former friend's texts or calls. If they question why you aren't texting back, just reply with a nonchalant, "Sorry, I was busy" or "I can't do long chats anymore, I don't have the time.” The other person will be offended, but in time they will get over this.
    • Don't meet up as you used to. If this means changing plans with other friends, you may need to do so for a time. Not seeing one another is a good way to create distance and help your friend realize that you really mean it.
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    Stop sharing things on social media networks. Block the ex-friend if this works best for you. Don't reply to anything texted, IM'd or sent to you online from this person. Avoid making comments on posts, even if the rest of your circle of friends is doing so. Your absence will speak volumes to your ex-friend.
    • If you pick up your phone only to see 15 texts and 3 missed calls, it will be something you will have to deal with. In this situation, text or call them back to arrange a time to meet. You’ll then have to talk about the break up in person.
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    Adjust your routine, if necessary. If you have a fitness class together, hang out at the same diner, or even have the same friends, you may have to adjust your routine to avoid this person. Sometimes that will mean not doing what you want to do, sure, but you’ll be so much happier not having to deal with this toxic relationship that you might not even notice.
    • This can always be a temporary change until the worst blows over. Give it a few weeks, and then return to normal. He or she will then have time to calm down and get used to you not being around.
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    Talk to mutual friends about it. If you two share friends, your other friends are going to have to be clued in. That way if your ex-friend is going to be around, they can let you know. Then, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to be social in that group.
    • For the record, it may be easier to not hang out with mutual friends as much, at least at first. If you have a few friends that aren’t associated with this toxic friend of yours, lean on them during this time to make the transition easier.
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    Be honest if confronted. It’s very possible that your friend will notice you slipping away and ask you what’s up. If this happens, be honest. Say you’re making other friends and that you two are simply growing apart. That’s natural. You two don’t mesh together anymore – you just bring each other down. Odds are they’ll know what you’re talking about.
    • If you chose the “slowly fading away” approach, be honest about why: you didn’t want to have an argument about it and wanted to avoid conflict. You were nervous it would be sad and maybe a bit scary. If you open up yourself like that, they won’t be able to argue or attack you.

Part 3
Going from Friends to Acquaintances

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    Understand that being kind and polite leaves the door open to staying acquainted. You may no longer be best friends but it is important not to leave behind you a wake of people who are "dead to you.” You never know when you may need to share a lift, finish a deadline together, or go to the same wedding or funeral in the future. Leaving things with good vibes is an important part of staying connected within your local community.
    • You never know – years down the line, you two may become friends again. He or she may have an epiphany where they see the error of their ways. Time heals all wounds and can greatly change people, too.
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    Be polite but distant with your former friend. After the friendship draws to a close, avoid being too cold; this is unfair and unkind. Instead, in time you should find yourself able to be polite and engage in meaningless small talk on occasion. However, refuse to have a chat or conversation beyond the pleasantries that acquaintances exchange, such as saying hello and goodbye and mentioning the weather. Laugh at the occasional joke together. But always have an excuse up your sleeve for getting away from them, such as needing to meet someone or get something done, just in case your former friend thinks you've opened the door to rekindling the close friendship.
    • For example, say something short and polite like, "That's interesting but sorry, I can't talk now," and walk away or make reasonable excuses (such as an appointment or deadline) if your friend tries to start a conversation.
    • Being distant means not sharing anything intimate with your former friend. You might share news that someone you both know has had a baby but you won't go into the nitty gritty details of what the baby looks like, how the new mom is coping or what clothes you intend buying as a gift. Simply leave it at passing on the big news and nothing more.
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    If you must, address the former situation. Eventually you may find that you can't simply brush off your friend with simple comments. You may be able to see them itching for the closeness you once had. In this situation, you'll need to be incredibly blunt, telling the cold, honest truth.
    • Here's an example of what you might say that is both honest and blunt, but civil and mature: "X, I know this isn't easy for you but I really meant it when I said I don't want us to be close friends anymore. I am not going to keep having these conversations with you and it's important for you to know that I mean it when I say that I am no longer your close friend. I will never be rude about you or unkind to you but I am not going to get involved in the same pattern as before. Please understand that."
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    Avoid being aggressive. Cursing at your former friend or openly ignoring them around other friends are mean-spirited things to do and won't make the breakup any easier. Do not spread rumors about your friend either; gossip is cowardice and will hurt your friend. It will also likely backfire on you, as gossip tends to breed more gossip.
    • Unfortunately, bystanders love a good catfight and some people won't hesitate to encourage one, so don't give them the pleasure – instead, be a role model for how to end a formerly close friendship with dignity.
    • If you're aggressive, don't be surprised if others think your friend ended the friendship with you. Staying calm, cool, and collected is the only way to handle this delicate situation.


  • Think thoroughly of the consequences and reasons before you end a friendship. After it is over, it will be hard if not impossible, to start this same friendship up again.
  • Don't let them be very emotional, or hug them if they are, as that might lead them to think that you are not serious about ending this friendship.


  • Don't talk about the friend behind his or her back. It will get back to them, and there will be a lot of upset feelings, and rumors will be spread about you as well!
  • This is general advice. Only you know the realities and context of your friendship and the reasons for breaking up. You will need to put in the groundwork of thinking about the consequences of what you wish to do and what you say and while advice is helpful, listening to your instincts and using your own relationship skills matter most. At the end of the day, the best advice is to do your best to avoid turning your former friend into an enemy – draining your energies in that way is absolutely pointless.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends