How to End a Friendship

Three Parts:Should You End It?Making the BreakDealing With the Aftermath

Losing a friend can be as hard as breaking up with a lover, but it's necessary when things just aren't working out. If your friendship is more toxic than beneficial, it might be time to pull the plug. Friendships change, and friendships end. If you've got to cut the cord, then you should at least do it with grace and humility.

Part 1
Should You End It?

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    End it if you can't stop fighting. Do you think your anger will subside, or is this really the end? Friends fight and still stay friends, and you can't expect perfection from them all the time. But if you're fighting more than feeling friendly, it's probably time to bail. Who wants to be with someone they're always arguing with, anyway?[1] Ask yourself some questions to better understand things:
    • Was your disagreement a one-time occurrence or has been ongoing? If your disagreement just won't die, maybe the friendship should.
    • Does the issue itself matter more than the friendship? Voting for different people is one thing, but if someone deeply disagrees with your core beliefs, it may be a deal-breaker.
    • Is there a hurt or a slight that neither of you will apologize for? Are you so proud/upset that you can't say "I'm sorry" and move on with your lives?
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    End it if you're growing distant and apart, and neither of you wants to fix it. Sometimes friendships don't end with a fight, but with a fizzle. Has it been awhile since you felt like calling up your friend for a chat? Do you find yourself making excuses not to hang out? If so, ask yourself whether you or your friend could do anything to save the relationship, or whether you even want to. People change -- it sucks, but it is true. Don't fight it if you don't have a reason to.
    • If you're old friends, give it another shot. People go through rough patches, and it's no excuse to cut and run because things aren't fun for a few weeks.
    • Drifting apart doesn't mean you won't one day drift back together. Just stop hanging out for a while -- it's as simple as that.
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    Compare life without your friend to life with a little bit less of them. Rushing from "best friends" to "I'll never see them again" is childish and extreme. Would just hanging out less accomplish the same goals? Does it make you sad to imagine life without the person, or does it make you feel relieved? If you aren't sure this is what you want to do, then just try seeing less of them. It's a lot easier, less dramatic, and mature than cutting them out of your life all at once.
    • Simply put, are you still willing to put in energy to keep this relationship going? If the answer is no, then move on and make the break.
    • If you already know that you'll be happy to get rid of the drama, boredom, or other negative feelings that you associate with this person, ending it is a good idea. Ignore the mutual friends, activities, and other nonsense. If they're bad for you, end it.

Part 2
Making the Break

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    Cut off toxic friendships cold turkey. If your friend is a danger to you or your health, screw social etiquette and end it immediately. If your friend is manipulative/hurtful or you're afraid he or she will have a violent reaction to your friendship's end, just hit the brakes now. No conversation needed. Stop taking calls and texts, unfriend the person on Facebook, and don't show up in places where you know that person will be.
    • If you're in danger, notify authorities (a boss, school officials, the police) immediately. This is no longer a friendship worth handling alone.
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    Don't hang out together until the friendship fades naturally. Friends go to different schools, move to different towns, or gravitate to different activities, and they start hanging out with other people. It's quick, painless, and usually mutual. To gracefully put a friendship out of its misery (or let it wilt, if that sounds too harsh), you should:[2]
    • Keep your conversations in safe, shallow territory. Keep all of the emotional, personal baggage in your own bedroom and out of their house.
    • Lose touch with them. Don't make as big an effort to call or text. Skip a phone call or two. Don't be a complete d--k about it, of course. But if you're not friends, you don't need to be in constant communication.
    • Decline invitations to chill. As the distance between you grows, stop spending time with the ex-friend. They'll stop calling eventually, once they get the idea.
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    End the friendship in person, directly, if you need to cut it off quickly. You want straightforward results? Be a straight shooter. Rather than leaving the person guessing why you aren't talking to him or her anymore, set aside a few minutes to talk to them. If you're just not interested in hanging out with someone, this may be a bit extreme. But if they are toxic to your life, old pals, or otherwise damaging your life you need to own up to your decision and tell them honestly.
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    Choose a quiet, but still public, spot to talk. This way you can hightail it out of there when the conversation is over, or if things get heated (which they shouldn't... but may). Coffee shops and public parks are good choices.
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    Let them know your concerns politely, firmly, and quickly. Cut right to the chase -- "I don't think we should hang out anymore" is about as blunt, and effective, as it gets.
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    Keep the conversation focused on you. Don't throw blame or talk trash about them. For example, instead of accusing the person of drinking too much, go with "I need time to focus more on my studies and less on partying."
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    Give the other person a chance to talk. Make sure they understand your position too. It's important to let your friend tell you what he or she thinks about the situation. However -- it should not change your decision. You spent a lot of time thinking about this. Don't undo it all in thirty seconds.
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    Leave once you've said your piece. You may also be tempted to apologize for ending the friendship. But unless you've done something wrong, there is no reason to be sorry for choosing to cut ties with someone. Just get it done and get out of there.
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    Establish clear boundaries for the end of the relationship. No matter how you end a friendship, the person is likely to try to get in touch once or twice. Let the person know if they are still welcome to talk to you or not. If you are not crystal clear about your expectations, then don't end things until you are. If you're wishy-washy now, both of you will likely slip into old habits later.
    • If you are willing to keep in touch with this person, make it clear what kind of communication is cool with you. You don't have to ignore someone's very existence just because you don't want to hang out anymore.
    • If you never want to speak to your former friend again, warn them of the consequences if they don't listen. And, like any other promise, make sure you follow through if they do.

Part 3
Dealing With the Aftermath

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    Brace yourself for the sadness of a lost friendship. Sometimes losing the worst people hurts your the most. You had good times, though. They were cool, fun, and funny when you were friends. Losing them, no matter how bad things got, is going to feel like ripping off a bandage. It hurts, and it stings in the open air, but it's for the best.
    • Your friend might not take it well. One or both of you might end up crying, begging, or flying off in rage. But whatever the current emotions, they do not erase the reasons you had for ending things.
    • You're going to feel guilty, end of story. Just remember that, no matter how broken your relationship may have been, it's normal to feel responsible for the death of a good thing. It will pass with time.
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    Contain your anger -- it isn't doing you or anyone else any favors. Chances are good that your friend will be angry enough for the both of you. Hurt feelings morph quickly into anger, and anger leads to doing things you'd probably rather not do. If you feel tempers rising on either side, take a step back and get out of there shortly. Like cookies on a hot tray, you'll both cool off faster when you're separated.
    • If your former friend tends to become aggressive when confronted, you should expect verbal or even physical backlash. End things in public, and bring a friend or write a letter if you're really worried.
    • You're going to be angry for a while if your friend hurt you. It's normal. But don't let your anger pull you to the dark side, young padawan. Once you let the friendship go, let the emotions go as well.
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    Prepare your defenses for incoming passive-aggression. More likely than not, it's impossible to completely break it off, especially if you still have to see the person at school or work. Passive aggression, the great weapon of slighted friends the world over, can only hurt you if you let it. Get mentally ready to deal with some mind games in the months after you cut things off. The best defense -- completely ignoring the attack.
    • If your former friend is passive-aggressive, expect back-stabbing behavior after you break off the friendship. Try and remember that it is, in the end, kind of your fault for ending things, and that you shouldn't strike back.
    • You already ended the relationship. Don't make things worse by trying to sabotage or hurt them after you've already ended it.
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    Accept the friends who don't take your side. It's nothing personal. It is just hard for people to be friends with two people who are no longer friends for each other. People will naturally gravitate toward either you or your friend because playing both sides puts them in the middle of the war they want none of. Note, however, that this is by far the most melodramatic outcome. More often than not your social group will shift a bit and move on.
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    Meet some new people and stop harping on the old. Meeting new people will signal to your former friend that you have a life outside of him or her. It will also help you feel better about the friendship's end since you'll have great new people in your life. Some fresh ideas will do you good -- as long as you're on the lookout for behavior similar to the friend you had to leave.


  • You have the right to preserve and protect your own joy. If your friend robs you of joy, it is an unhealthy relationship.
  • Don't allow friends or family guilt you into staying in a harmful friendship. Consider your own well-being.
  • if someone walks away from you let them go, your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you. It didn't mean they're bad people, it just means that their part in your story is over.
  • Remember to always think about how they would react to end the friendship as peacefully as possible.
  • Tell them why you don't want to be their friend and don't be scared to express your feelings.
  • Break up with your friend in a firm, but gentle way.
  • If you really feel that you need to break up with your friend, do it. Just make sure that it is the right decision before you make it, but if you have to, then do what is best for you.
  • Let your friend know that you have a reason to end the friendship. Speak politely and be confident. The reason should be understandable and sensible.
  • If you need to break up with a friend, do it. If say, they only had one month to live, do not break up with them. Be there for them.


  • Don't just ignore the symptoms of a failing friendship. Unless you do something about it, things will most likely not get better on their own.
  • Avoid the temptation to tell people all about your former friend's character flaws. If you do this, chances are you will receive the same treatment.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends