How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Friend

Three Methods:Making a Clear BreakDistancing Yourself GraduallyEvaluating the Friendship and Making a Plan

Not all friendships are built to last. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to get rid of an unwanted friend. Breaking up with a friend is not so different from breaking up with a romantic partner. You may choose to distance yourself gradually or make a quick, clean break. Whatever method you choose, you should also spend a little time evaluating the friendship and your approach to ending it.

Method 1
Making a Clear Break

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    Make a plan to meet up. If you have decided to have a mature conversation with your “friend” and explain to them that you need a break, the first step is to make a plan to meet. You will want to select both a place and time, just like you would for a romantic break-up. It is best to do this in person, not on the phone, and definitely not via text.[1]
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    Practice what you’re going to say. Conversations like this can be tough, so it is a good idea to practice what you are going to say ahead of time. Make a list of the reasons why you want to create some distance. Remember to focus on yourself and what you need. This is more effective than pointing fingers and dishing out blame. [2]
    • You might say, “I just don’t think we are into the same things anymore. I don't feel like we are compatible friends.”
    • You might say, “I don’t like who I am when I’m around you. I feel like we bring out the worst in each other.”
    • You might say, “I just can’t forgive you for what happened, and I think it’s best if we don’t speak anymore.”
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    Break up with your friend. When your meeting time comes, sit down with your “friend” and tell it to them straight. Make sure you take the time to listen to them just as they have listened to you. Then walk away, and be proud of yourself for handling the confrontation in a mature way.
    • If it helps, you can bring an outline of important things to say on an index card.
    • This may seem silly or impersonal, but it can very difficult to remember everything during a tense conversation.
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    Set boundaries. In some cases, you may never want to see or speak to this person again. In other situations, you may be comfortable remaining casual acquaintances. Whatever you decide, it is important for you to establish clear boundaries with this person, and explain exactly what type of relationship you’d like to have from here on out.[3]
    • Be as clear as you can.
    • You might say, “To be completely honest, I do not see us ever becoming friends again, and I’d rather not have any contact with you.”
    • You might say, “I think we just need some time to heal. Maybe we can try talking again in a month or two.”
    • You might say, “If we run into each other at a party, of course we can talk and hang out, but I just don’t see us spending time together one-on-one.”
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    Prepare for an emotional response. It can be difficult to predict how this person will respond. They may play it totally cool and just say “OK,” but they may also yell, cry, or get upset. They may even try to argue with you. Try envisioning a variety of reactions, and think about what you could do or say.
    • Once you have said what you needed to say, and taken a moment to respectfully listen to them, you are free to walk away.
    • If you’ve already made up your mind, there is no need to argue.
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    Prepare for questions. When you have this conversation with your former friend, they will probably ask you a lot of questions. Think about what questions they might have in advance, and think of honest but kind ways to relay your thoughts. Here are some questions that your friend might ask you:
    • Why don't you like me?
    • Why don't you want to hang out with me anymore?
    • Is there something I did that made you upset?
    • What about our mutual friends?

Method 2
Distancing Yourself Gradually

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    Stop calling or texting. The first thing you need to is to stop initiating conversation. Hopefully, this person is more of an acquaintance than a close friend, so it won't be too strange if you don't contact them. Don’t text them about something that happened. Don’t call to talk or make plans. Encourage your former-friend to move on by failing to contact them for any reason.[4]
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    Avoid running into them. You will also want to avoid running into them in person. You probably know where they hang out. Just avoid going there. Sometimes this may mean missing out on something fun, but it is worth it to establish some distance. However, if you do run into them, here are some tips to make things less awkward but still distance yourself.
    • If you go to the same school, keep yourself busy with your schoolwork. If the person approaches you in class or after class, say that you're in a rush and a little stressed about your work.
    • If you're at a party, offer to help out at the party, or excuse yourself to go say hello to someone else, if you see the person.
    • If you do end up talking to them, have a light conversation that is not filled with deep or emotional topics.
    • You can also invite a third person into any conversation.
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    Decline plans. If they manage to contact you and try to make plans, you are going to need to say no. Here are some ways that you can politely decline an invitation:
    • "Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't make it that day."
    • "No, but thank you for inviting me."
    • "Thanks, but I'm not a huge fan of that activity."
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    Be honest. If your “friend” starts asking questions and pushing you to hang out, you should drum up some courage and tell the truth. If they approach you and want to talk, it probably means that the feeling to “drift apart” wasn’t really mutual. You will need to tell it to them straight and make a clear break in the relationship.[5]
    • Examples of things you might say include:
    • "I think our friendship is growing apart, and maybe we should let it."
    • "I just don't feel that we are compatible as friends anymore."
    • "I don't think it's a good idea for us to spend time together."

Method 3
Evaluating the Friendship and Making a Plan

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    Stop and reflect on the friendship. Before taking any drastic steps, just take a little time to reflect on the friendship. Getting rid of a friend can be a big decision and you don’t want to burn bridges unnecessarily. So take some time and think over both the pros and cons of this relationship.[6]
    • Generate a pro/con list, listing good aspects and bad aspects of the friendship.
    • Be sure to focus on the present relationship, not the way it “used to be.”
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    Look for “toxic” signs. There are several signals that a relationship is bad for you. When you are reflecting on your friendship, keep an eye out for signs that the friendship is actually toxic. If you experience several of these signs, it is a good idea to create some distance.[7]
    • You feel drained after spending time with them.
    • You don’t like the way you act in their company.
    • There is no balance. Either they ignore you, or they want way too much attention.
    • They make you feel bad or try to manipulate you.
    • You’ve lost respect for them.
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    Determine your boundaries. Before you head into a “break-up” conversation with your “friend” make sure you know what you want the exact outcome to be. Will you want to permanently cut ties and never speak to each other again? Do you just need space temporarily? Will you still be cool with them in groups, but you have no desire to hang out one-on-one? Make sure you know what sort of boundaries you will need to set, and be as specific as you can.[8]
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    Think about mutual friends. It is also a good idea to think about and plan how you will handle the issue of mutual friends. If you want a total break and never want to see this person again, it means that any shared friends will need to choose between you. It also means you may not get invited to certain events (or they may not). If you are dealing with a toxic friendship, then it is definitely worth it. But it is worth thinking about and considering how you will deal with and/or explain the situation to shared friends.


  • Determine whether or not you are “growing apart.” If it seems like the friendship is fading, and that the feeling is some-what mutual, all you need to do is encourage it along. Unfortunately, this will not work if the desire to end the friendship in one-sided.
  • If you are in school, it is a good idea to do this during the summer break.


  • You will probably feel bad for them at first. Spend time with your other friends to get your mind off it.
  • Burn your bridges carefully. You may overlook certain consequences when your deciding to go through with it.

Article Info

Categories: Changing and Losing Friends