How to Leave a Group of Friends

Four Methods:Choosing How You Should LeaveAdopting the Right AttitudeExploring Alternatives to Leaving a Group of FriendsRecognizing When You Should Leave Your Friends

Friendships don’t always last. If you have a group of friends who are domineering, annoying, or otherwise bad for your health, you should rightly think about leaving them. Leaving a group of friends can be sudden or gradual. When you leave a group of friends, you should be honest with them about your decision to do so. Before deciding to leave a group of friends, think about ways to fix the friendship circle by confronting them with your concerns or simply reducing the amount of time you spend with them instead of leaving the group completely.

Method 1
Choosing How You Should Leave

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    Tell the group your decision.[1] The most direct way to leave a group of friends is to talk to them about your choice to leave. You can tell the group all at once or on an individualized basis that you’ll be ending your friendship with them. This method of leaving a group of friends can be awkward because the group might have lots of questions.
    • If you are very close with all members of the group of friends, you should probably tell all of them at once.
    • If you’re closer with certain friends in the group than others, you might choose to tell the friends you are closest with first, then inform the rest of your decision afterwards.
    • Prepare carefully if you intend to address the whole group of friends about your leaving. Use note cards or a written page to help you express everything you need to.
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    Wind it down.[2] Instead of addressing your friends directly about leaving the group, it’s sometimes best to make a slow, steady exit from a group of friends. Unless your friends are engaged in something dangerous or illegal, there’s usually no need to leave a group of friends all at once. If you don’t want to hurt your friends’ feelings, you could just choose to spend less time with them until eventually you’re spending no time at all with them.
    • Stop sharing intimate details and events in your life.
    • Invest the time you used to spend with the group of friends with other friends, or take up a new hobby.
    • Don’t answer calls and texts immediately.
    • Over time, your friends will become casual acquaintances, then (if you wish) disconnect from you altogether.
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    Cut off all contact.[3] This method of leaving a group of friends may seem cold and heartless. However, sometimes it’s best to avoid all the irritating questions and unpleasant comments that your group of friends might engage in by permanently ending your friendships with the group all at once.
    • Do not offer an explanation or respond to their calls, texts, or emails.
    • Block the group of friends from your social media accounts.
    • You might choose this option if, for instance, you got in a big fight with the group and do not see a way to recover your friendships. It’s also a good option for dealing with groups of friends you don’t care for.
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    Throw a party. If you’re moving away for a job or to attend university, you might be leaving a group of friends you love and who care about you. In this case, you should throw a party with your group of friends.[4] Do something you all love -- go to your favorite water park or dine at your favorite restaurant, for instance. Use the party to celebrate your shared friendship and reminisce on all the good times you’ve had together.
    • Use social media, texts, and emails to stay in touch with friends you really care about.
    • Visit them when you get the chance.
    • Write each friend in the group a letter telling them how much you care about them. Thank them for their friendship, and cite specific instances in which they demonstrated what a good friend they were.

Method 2
Adopting the Right Attitude

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    Be honest.[5] If your friends insist on an explanation as to why you’re leaving the group, be honest no matter what your reasons are. Do not, for instance, tell your friends that you are moving out of state just to avoid them or leave the group. Instead, be open and honest about why you want or need to leave the group of friends.
    • If it’s easier for you to express yourself in writing, there’s nothing wrong with sending an email or letter to a group of friends (or the ringleader of a group of friends) explaining your grievances.[6]
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    Be respectful of your friends’ feelings. Sometimes the truth hurts. Try to find a way to be honest and respectful at the same time. For instance, if you’re leaving a group of friends because they no longer share your interests or if you find that they are very boring, try a diplomatic approach by explaining to them that, “I just have a hard time relating to you.” Don’t rub the fact that you’re leaving the group in their faces.
    • Emphasize your own feelings and point of view, and avoid accusatory “you” statements like, “You are very boring.”
    • Lies will only lead to more lies. It’s best to be honest about your reasons for leaving a group.
    • Sometimes vague answers work best, since they can be both honest and respectful. For instance, “I’m busy,” or “I’ve been traveling” work well as explanations for friends who want to know why you aren’t spending as much time with them.[7]
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    Stand your ground.[8] Friends -- especially friends of long standing -- will often try to pull you back into the group. Be firm in your decision to leave the group. Don’t give in to group pressure or bullying.
    • For instance, if someone tries to get you to remain in the group of friends, say, “I’m sorry, I am very busy.” or “I’ve enjoyed your company but I need some time apart from the group right now.”
    • Be calm and graceful when declining invitations to hang out with the group of friends you wish to leave (or have already left).

Method 3
Exploring Alternatives to Leaving a Group of Friends

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    Discuss concerns with your group of friends.[9] Try talking to your group of friends about the behavior(s) that you find unacceptable. For instance, if your friends consistently exclude you, try talking to at least one friend in the group privately. Perhaps they were not deliberately excluding you, and when you alert them to your feelings, they will correct their behavior and include you more often.
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    Take a break.[10] Sometimes you can use a long trial separation from your friends to see if you’re truly happy leaving your group of friends. Use the time apart from your group of friends to see how you feel without them in your life. Look for new friends, explore your hobbies, and spend time with close family members.
    • If you find you are happier during the separation, you can extend it into a full break from the group of friends.
    • If, on the other hand, you find that you miss your friends, you should use the brief period of reflection to remind yourself why your friends aren’t so bad, and reconnect with the group when you have a chance. Tell them that you’ve missed them and can’t wait to see them again.
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    Inspire change among your friends.[11] While it is good to abandon friends who are engaging in negative behaviors, it is also worth trying to steer them away from their negative choices and help them see the error of their ways. Before leaving a group of friends engaged in illicit or immoral behavior, take proactive steps to help them reform.
    • If your friends are abusing drugs or alcohol, encourage them to join Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and seek counseling for their addiction.
    • If your friends want you to join them in stealing or vandalizing property, discourage them from doing so. Remind them of the trouble they could get in if caught, and propose and alternative activity like seeing a movie.

Method 4
Recognizing When You Should Leave Your Friends

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    Look out for controlling friends.[12] If your friends are constantly trying to make the group your only social outlet, you should think about leaving the group of friends. They might also badmouth your other friends, family, or significant other in an effort to pressure you into spending less time with them. Leave groups of friends like this as soon as possible.
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    Beware of friends that are a bad influence.[13] People often do what they see others do. Whether for good or ill, friends are a major influence in your life. If your friends engage in negative behaviors, you should leave the group of friends before you get yourself into trouble with them. You should consider leaving your group of friends if they:
    • Steal goods from stores
    • Abuse drugs and alcohol
    • Vandalize public or private property
    • Engage in other immoral or illegal acts
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    Leave groups of friends that don’t invite you out.[14] If your friends often ignore you when arranging outings, you should think about leaving them. This might be an indirect form of bullying (bullying by exclusion). Friends who do this do not value your company, and are not friends at all.
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    Avoid needy friends.[15] If you have a group of friends who only want to spend time with you when they need something, they are bad friends. If you’re providing money, food, or a place to crash for your group of friends and your generosity is not being reciprocated, you are being taken advantage of and should leave the group.[16]
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    Beware of friends who try to compete with you.[17][18] If your friends are always trying to one-up you, it’s time to leave that group of friends. Avoid friends who try to minimize your accomplishments. They are bad friends and not worth keeping.
    • For example, if you tell your friends that you got a 93% on your test, and they brag that your score is not that great because they got an even higher score, they are bad friends.
    • Conversely, if you say that you’re having a bad day, and your friends insist that they are having even worse days, consider leaving the friend group.
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    Leave friend groups that drain your energy.[19][20] Spending time with friends should make us feel invigorated, refreshed, and energized.
    • If you find yourself making excuses to avoid your group of friends, they are probably not good for your mental health.
    • Friends that wear you out with their complaints, drama, or criticism should be left behind.


  • If possible, leave the group of friends along with your best friend. That way you will have someone to talk to even after your other friends are out of your life.
  • Do not pressure other friends to leave the group with you, but invite them to do so if you think it is appropriate.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends