wikiHow to End a Lifelong Friendship

Just because you have a history with someone, perhaps a friend for over 30 years, it doesn't mean that you should stay attached to this person once the magic is over. Perhaps the friendship has become toxic, or you just don't get along like you used to. It may be time to end the lifelong friendship, and make the decision to move on and find healthier and more supportive friends.


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    Determine why you are ending the long term relationship. If the reasons start with the fact that you have known each other for over 30 years, but do not have mutual affection or interests in common, or the person makes you feel drained and unhappy when you are around them, it is time to end this friendship for maintaining your own personal self-esteem and personal health.
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    Once you have made the decision, don't second guess yourself. You are making a healthy decision to find new friends who support you, don't go back to this unhealthy relationship just because it is comfortable.
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    Recall the good times, and try to remember the friendship in a good light, if possible. It is always difficult to stop being friends with someone, even when the act of friendship is one-sided or turns unhealthy for you. It is perfectly acceptable to recall the good times, but don't obsess over them.
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    Don't call the person you have decided to stop being friends with, just slowly phase the individual out of your life. Do this in a natural way so that they won't notice a sudden change in your behavior and think something is up. You can do this by ignoring phone calls and only calling back when you are on your way to an appointment, you want to become very busy. Get out there and meet new healthy friends that lift you up. This friend will only contact you to lean on you, bend your ear for more of their personal complaints, or ask to borrow money again. They will not call you just to see how you are doing, so don't expect it. Prepare how you will respond to this friend when he or she does call, after you have stopped calling for awhile. Be ready to wait several days, weeks or months, because this type of friend will not notice that you are gone right away.
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    Once the past friend calls you, you need to stay strong in your resolve to end the relationship. Say you are very busy and you're not sure when things will calm down. Sound happy and be positive. You know this person very well so be prepared when you talk to them. Know what you are going to say and practice with a spouse or family member, but keep things short. You will need to do this several times, as this friend will not believe at first that you are no longer there for them. If they ask you out to lunch, say you are going out with friends and can't make it, but don't reschedule. If they want to talk about her new promotion at work, say you can't talk now, you are finishing a project yourself for work and have to go. Think of any excuse to get off of the phone. They will eventually either come over to your house to see what is up, or they will break down and ask if she/he "did something to offend you." If they come over, be polite and tell them you're on your way to an appointment. If they ask if you are offended by something they said, say "no, I'm just very busy and don't have a lot of spare time lately," and get off the phone.
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    If you see this friend out and about, just smile, but keep moving. If they stop and talk to you, again keep things short and sweet. Appear to be very happy, even if you are having a difficult day. This will send the message to this past friend that you no longer need them and are faring just fine without contact. Eventually they will get the hints and stop calling you, because you are no longer giving them what they want or need.
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    If you decide after several years that you want to try being friends with this person again, go ahead and give it a go. In several years' time (not several days or months) people can change, and your vain friend may have turned over a new leaf. But if you find that they are the same person you left before, pass again. Anyone can legitimately be busy, so use this as an excuse, but don't elaborate that you have exciting news, etc.


  • Remember the friendship as a positive experience if possible. Do not obsess over the loss of this type of friend. If you focus on the good memories, you will not regret the time you spent being a friend to this person. You will be finding healthy outlets and meeting new people and will not have regrets that you let a 30 year "relationship" go. Actually, the friend let the relationship go, you are just making the healthy decision to agree with it and finally move on.
  • Think hard to the last time this friend really stood up for you, cared about you, or had a kind word towards you. When was the last time this friend showed real caring towards you? If you can't remember, it is time for new friends.
  • Start a hobby to get you mind off of things for awhile. This is an EXCELLENT time to lose some weight, start an exercise routine, volunteer with a community organization or become involved with a social services foundation in your town. These will bring immediate positive highs to your life, surround you with people who will tell you how much you are appreciated, and keep you from destructive behaviors such as over eating while you go through the withdrawal symptoms of "losing" this "friend."
  • If you find yourself introducing your friend to new people as "this is my friend from 30 years ago" instead of "this is my friend who goes jogging with me," then you are holding onto the years and need to let the old memory go.
  • Take an honest look at your long term friends, and ask if they are supportive and there when YOU need them (not just when they need you).
  • Try to end it on a positive note. Rather than feeling like you are leaving behind a lifetime of good memories, try to feel like you are moving forward to make better ones.


  • Understand it is not your responsibility, nor your concern to try to "change" this person. Let them be who they need to be, just get out of the way and find more supportive people in your life.
  • If you try to confront this friend, expect to be told "you are too sensitive" or "you could never take a joke" or other words to manipulate the situation to make it 100% your fault, so don't fall for this trap.
  • Do not confront this old friend on how they have been treating you in the past! Anything you say will sound whiny and cry-babyish, and will be met with unkindness.
  • If you two have mutual acquaintances you may have to eventually inform them that they will have to choose between you and your former friend. If the choose to be with your ex-friend, just tell yourself they were toxic anyway.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends | Handling Friendship Problems