How to Politely Stop Being Friends With Someone

Four Methods:Assessing the FriendshipWithdrawing Gradually from the FriendshipBeing FrankDealing with the Fallout

Friends are essential to our lives as social beings—we confide in them, look to them for support when we’re feeling down, and celebrate with them when we experience success. As we grow and evolve over time, our friendships will change, too, but sometimes not in a good way. You may feel your friendship has run its course—maybe you no longer have anything in common, or maybe your friendship has become toxic—and decide it’s time to end the friendship. But how do you do it without drama? This article will help you determine if it’s truly necessary to end the friendship and, if so, how to do it as gently as possible.

Method 1
Assessing the Friendship

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    Think about whether or not you really want to cut this person out of your life. Ending a friendship can have a major impact on your life (and hers), so don’t make a rash decision when you are angry. Instead, take a quiet moment to sit down and list the reasons you are friends with this person, and then list the things that you don't like about the friendship anymore. This will give you some insight on whether or not the friendship can be saved, or if you should end things.[1]
    • Clearly defining the reasons you want to end the relationship will help you feel confident in your decision and communicate clearly with your friend. It will help you experience closure, a sense that you did what was best for your wellbeing.[2]
    • Remember that growing apart from people is okay and natural—it doesn’t make either of you bad people.
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    Consider if you want to end the friendship over something that can be resolved, or if it’s because of a major shift of personalities. A simple misunderstanding may be the cause of the conflict; your friend might not even know that she’s done something to upset you. It’s also possible you both have just changed and don’t have much of a connection anymore—if you became friends in kindergarten and now you’re teenagers, you may have grown to like and value different things, and not be the most compatible people anymore.
    • Are you considering ending the friendship because she forgot to come to your big track meet or because she said something rude about your boyfriend? Unless this is part of a larger pattern of behavior, letting her know she hurt you may be enough to fix your friendship.
    • If you feel bored by the friendship or dread spending time with her, it may mean your connection has faded.[3]
    • If you find you have little in common—you struggle to find things to do together or even things to talk about—then the friendship may have simply run its course.[4]
    • Is she a compassionate, thoughtful friend who sometimes flakes on your plans or is always late? Think about whether or not your issues are things you can address with her to save the friendship.[5]
    • Is your friend is socially anxious, shy or inept? Do you perhaps see a pathway for being someone who can guide your friend through these troubles?
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    Look for signs that this is a toxic friendship. A toxic friendship is an unhealthy relationship in which you feel you are consistently being taken advantage of. If your friend insults you, gets jealous of your other friendships, or makes you feel bad about yourself after you interact, it might be time to end the friendship.[6]
    • Do you only hear from her when she needs something? Does she use you as a therapist but never return the favor, or ask you to do her homework assignments for her?
    • Does she only focus on the negative things in life? Consider whether or not this is situational—maybe she’s just having a rough patch. But if it’s a pattern of behavior, she may be an unhealthy person to be around.[7]
    • Is she extremely competitive, pick fights with you, or is she clingy and too demanding? These are all signs of a toxic friendship.[8]
    • Is she doing things that get you into trouble? If your friend is stealing, hurting people, or generally being bad news, and you seem to get dragged into it, then it's probably not your destiny to "fix" things here. Look after your needs first in this instance.
    • Think about how you feel after you spend time with her. If, more often than not, you end up feeling bad about yourself, it’s probably not a healthy relationship.[9]
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    Give your friend a chance to change. If the good in your friendship outweighs the flaws, then try talking to him about the things that upset or hurt you. The problems may be easily fixable, and you may not need to end the friendship after all. Remember, no one is perfect, and there might be some ways in which you can learn to be a better friend, too.[10]
    • In a private setting, let your friend know their behavior is endangering your friendship. Tell him, “It really bothers me when you flirt with my girlfriend” or “Hey, it’s really hard for me to hang out with you when you’re always really late. Can you make more of an effort to be on time?”
    • Ending a friendship without giving the person an opportunity to change can be very traumatic. If this person is a good friend, it’s probably worth addressing the problems before you decide to cut the cord.[11]

Method 2
Withdrawing Gradually from the Friendship

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    Determine if gradually phasing out your friendship is appropriate, or if you need to have a frank discussion with your friend. If the person is a long-time or best friend, this is usually not the best tactic for ending the friendship completely. If you just want to step back a little (maybe going from besties to just friends, or friends to acquaintances), the gradual withdrawal can work. But if you want your oldest friend out of your life, you owe it to the friendship to have a conversation with her. Still, you may want to start the process by putting a little distance between you and her.[12]
    • If the person is in your life 24/7 (you have every class together, hang out in the same group, and involved in the same activities), you probably want to try the gradual approach. Telling her point-blank that you don’t want to be friends when she’s this entangled in your life will probably make a huge mess.[13]
    • If the friendship seems to be on its way out anyway (like if neither one of you seems to be able to find time for each other), just let it fade out on its own. It’s not necessary to tell her you no longer want to be friends.
    • Don’t cut her off completely with no explanation. Gradually withdrawing from a friendship is different from “ghosting,” which means you ignore her attempts to reach out to you and basically pretend you don’t know her. This is hurtful, confusing, and will probably lead to some drama.
    • Be aware that this method can still cause hurt feelings. Even if you don’t tell the person “I don’t want to be your friend anymore,” he or she will probably figure it out and feel confused and upset.
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    Make yourself unavailable. When your friend wants to make plans, tell her you’re really busy. Homework, family, religious obligations—these are all reasons you can give for being unable to hang out. Be slow in responding to her texts and try not to talk on the phone as often. When you do talk, keep the conversations relatively short.
    • Remember, don’t be mean or abrupt with her. You’re not trying to hurt her feelings here, so just keep it light and say things like “I’m sorry, I’ve really got to run!”
    • If you’re uncomfortable pretending to be busy when your friend calls, then GET busy. Join a club or activity that interests you but not your friend. You can meet new people this way and have legitimate reasons for being too busy to hang out.
    • Spend time with other friends, reconnect with family, or even venture out on your own.
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    Don’t share as much as you used to. If you used to tell her about ever interaction with your crush, or confide in her about family problems, start to dial that back. Keep your conversations surface level, sticking things like school work.
    • If she wants chat with you for hours about her boyfriend, try to find a way to avoid the conversation or keep it really short. You can tell her you're busy and can't talk, or that you only have about five minutes to talk before you have to be somewhere else.
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    Don’t make drastic moves on social media. Immediately unfollowing and de-friending will make it pretty clear to all your mutual friends that you are severing ties with your friend, possibly before ‘’she’’ even knows that’s what happening. Removing her from all your social media makes your private decision to end this friendship public, and ruin the subtlety of fading out of her life.[14]
    • Instead of de-friending her, try just hiding her from your news feed.

Method 3
Being Frank

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    Plan what you will say. This is going to be a hard conversation, so you may want to write out the reasons why you want to end the friendship, or even write a script.[15] Because you are trying to minimize hurt feelings, make sure your reasons are stated tactfully and that you’re not blaming her or being accusatory.[16]
    • You may want to discuss what to say with another close friend, sibling, or parent. This is fine, and probably a good idea, just make sure it’s someone you trust to keep things quiet. If she hears from someone else that you don’t want to be her friend—or worse, a few other people—it’s going to be very hurtful.[17]
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    Sit down with your friend and tell her what is going on. If this person was your very close friend, you owe it to her to have a dialogue and give her a chance to respond, instead of emailing her or texting her.[18] Be direct (but not mean) and don’t make lame excuses so she’s left wondering what just happened.[19]
    • Choose someplace quiet and relatively private so she can react without embarrassment (there may be tears). The lunchroom is not the place for this discussion.
    • It’s much too easy to misinterpret a letter or email, so try to talk to her in person or at least over the phone. Plus, she could show your private letter to other people.
    • Try to be nice but stand firm. Don’t say, “Hey, you’ve turned into a bitch and our friendship is over.” Try something like, “Our friendship has become a really negative force in my life, and I think it’s best if we stop being friends.”[20]
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    Let her have her say. Your friend may have questions and grievances of her own. She may become defensive, yell, get angry, or cry. That’s okay—let her have those feelings (unless she becomes violent; then get out of there). Down the line, you’ll both feel better that you had an opportunity to say what you needed to say, even if it’s difficult in the moment.[21]
    • Your friend may feel terrible about how she acted and want to try to save the friendship. If you are willing, you two might be able to talk it out.[22]
    • If your friend tries to bait you into a fight, don’t do it. Don’t involve yourself in a big, dramatic scene. Even if she’s calling you names, don’t retaliate.[23]
    • Stay with her until she's okay. Your friend may take this very hard, and you may need to stay by her side until she's together enough to leave on her own.[24]

Method 4
Dealing with the Fallout

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    Don't gossip if people ask you what happened. People may notice that you two aren’t friends anymore and ask you what went down. It’s okay to say something non-specific, like “we just kind of drifted apart,” but don’t get into the details. Talking trash about your former friend is mean and immature, no matter what happened to cause the friendship to fall apart.[25]
    • If your friend gets nasty, spreading rumors or gossiping about you on social media, try not to engage. There’s no point in dragging things out or defending yourself to someone you don’t even want to be friends with anymore.[26] If anything, it shows that you made the right decision.
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    Be polite when you see her. Things might be awkward for a while, and your friend may be angry or hurt, but treat her with kindness and respect. Remember that this is someone who was once your friend—maybe even your best friend—so honor what you had.[27]
    • Don’t do the look-of-death thing or straight-up ignore her. Just give her a small smile or nod of acknowledgment and move along.
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    Don’t get drawn into any drama if your mutual friends get upset. Ending one friendship may cause ripples if you’re part of the same group. Mutual friends may take sides, ask you to reconcile with her, or even get angry.[28]
    • Try not to get upset if some of your mutual friends feel they need to take sides. This may happen, and it’s going to hurt, but those people are petty and looking for drama, and you don’t need them in your life.[29]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends