How to Stop Being Friends With Someone

Three Methods:Assessing Whether to end the FriendshipEnding the Friendship FormallyEnding the Friendship Slowly

Is there someone you don’t want to be friends with anymore, but you aren’t sure how to do it? When ending a friendship, there’s almost always going to be hurt feelings. However, there's a nice way to stop being someone's friend.

Method 1
Assessing Whether to end the Friendship

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    Recognize the signs. Recognize what experts call a “friendshift” by paying careful attention to your feelings when you see photos of your friend on social media or get a call from her/him.
    • Realize everyone has moments in their lives when their friendship network is shifting. You only have a small amount of time and energy to devote to friendships.
    • Consider whether your friend makes you feel positive or negative about yourself. For example, does your friend always make passive-aggressive comments about your job or appearance? Are you more insecure after conversing with your friend? If so, it’s probably time to end the friendship.
    • True friends build you up positively, they don't make you doubt yourself..
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    Assess whether you’re the problem. Maybe the issues in the friendship really are issues inside of you. If that’s the case, work on the friendship or on yourself before making the decision to end it completely.
    • If your friend has betrayed you or broken your trust, you may need to end the friendship.
    • Sharing confidences and trying to undermine you at work or in a relationship are examples of betrayals that may warrant the ending the friendship. If you're the person doing those things, then you should work on yourself first.
    • If your reasons aren’t good ones – simple jealousy when the friend didn’t do anything to you, comes to mind – maybe you should work on yourself before you end the friendship. [1]
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    Determine whether the friendship is toxic. Toxic friendships can actually be harmful to your health. One study found that people who had negative interactions with friends had higher level of proteins related to inflammation in their bodies that were linked to chronic conditions like depression and heart disease.
    • A toxic friendship is one in which the friend is always talking about negative topics, even if they are things happening to the friend. You should consider whether the negativity is situational. If the friend is just going through a hard time, the friendship might be worth saving. However, if it’s become a pattern of constant negativity, it might be time for a change – for your own sake. [2]
    • Researchers have found three kinds of toxic friends: Friends who are too competitive with you, friends who pick fights with you, and friends who cling to you and demand too much of your energy.
    • Before ending a friendship, ask yourself whether you trust the other person, whether they bring out the best in you (and you in them), and whether you think they care about you and respect you.
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    Avoid enabling friendships. These are friendships where you were brought together by a behavior that you are now trying to stop. It’s best to end a friendship like this if it’s enabling you to be a person you don't want to be.
    • Examples of enabling friendships are friendships based around drinking, infidelity, partying, or shopping addiction. If the glue of your friendship is a behavior that you want to change about yourself, you might have to let the friendship go for your own future.
    • Sometimes friendships are created through mutual crisis, such as two friends who unite because they are both having marital problems. If one friend works out the relationship and the other doesn’t, the common ground can be gone.

Method 2
Ending the Friendship Formally

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    Communicate the reasons. You should think long and hard about why you really want to end the friendship. Before you communicate this to the other person – and you should – you should understand yourself why you don’t want to be the person’s friend anymore.
    • Be very clear. It’s important that you provide clarity. However, you don’t need to revisit every single past problem or negative detail. But if you aren’t clear (and firm), the person may keep trying. However, do come prepared with specific reasons. [3]
    • If the friend has truly done something to warrant the break – or if you’ve just grown in different directions – they deserve to know, clearly, the reason why. But you should say it in a kind way. Instead of saying, “you are interested in frivolous things while I’ve developed an interest in more intellectual pursuits” you could say “as we’ve gotten older, we just seem to have less in common.” In other words, frame it positively.
    • Be honest with the other person – and with yourself. Is there a hidden reason that is really bothering you that even you are avoiding?
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    Do it in person. It will lessen the hurt if you explain the break in person. So ask the person you don’t want to be friends with anymore to coffee. Ending a friendship over text message or email will ensure the hardest of feelings.
    • Be aware the friend may try to bargain with you and save the relationship. If this is not something you’re willing to entertain, stay extremely firm in the conversation.
    • Start your sentences by explaining how you feel rather than castigating the friend for what he or she has done to you. This will make the conversation feel less like an attack to the other person. You could say something like, “I feel like my life has moved in another direction, and this is what’s best for me.”
    • You don’t need to stay around for very long at this meeting. They are either going to get angry probably or try to get you to change your mind. So it’s best to give them your reasons and make your statement, and then excuse yourself nicely and say you have to go. [4]
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    Do it kindly. Ending a friendship is bound to cause negative feelings in the other person, such as hurt, confusion, and anger. Whatever your grievances, you should recognize this, and show empathy and kindness.
    • Don’t gossip about your former friend after you end the friendship. Your grievances against the friend are no one else’s business, and gossip is just not nice.
    • Show some sympathy and patience. Let the friend explain how he or she feels and acknowledge that their feelings are hurt. Explain that you are sorry about causing them bad feelings. This can go a long way.
    • Find a way to allow your friend to preserve his or her dignity. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to be your friend,” you could say something like, “I can’t be the friend you want me to be.” This puts more of the responsibility on your own shoulders and will make it easier for the former friend to accept. [5]
    • Try to avoid assigning blame. It’s not really necessary and will make the confrontation worse (unless there was a deep betrayal. Then, it’s probably a good idea to articulate that). But if your friend just annoys you or you don’t find them interesting anymore, why hurt their feelings by saying so?
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    Recognize the positives and the negatives of the formal approach. There are going to be pros and cons when it comes to any method you choose for ending a friendship. It’s not an easy thing to do. That’s true of the formal method too.
    • One of the negatives to the formal method is it’s uncomfortable and awkward. There are bound to be hard feelings in this meeting, and you will probably dread it.
    • If you’ve known a friend for a very long time, though, this approach is probably the best. It’s basically giving them the courtesy of a formal ending. If the friend is not as close of a friend and you’ve known them a short time, there’s less need to go this route.
    • This approach will end the friendship the most quickly. It provides clarity and is more considerate to your former friend in the long run, even though they may not recognize that at the time.
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    Pick the right occasion and situation. You will increase the chances that the formal ending will go badly if you don’t choose the right time to confront your soon-to-be-former friend. Timing is everything.
    • Calling the friend when they are at work, are going through a crisis, or are in a public situation may not work very well. [6]
    • A public place, like a restaurant or coffee shop, is probably a better idea. It allows for some airing of grievances but will likely prevent the worst kind of reaction, such as screaming or excessive tears.

Method 3
Ending the Friendship Slowly

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    Let it fade out. One way to end a friendship is to let it fade instead of cutting it off in a dramatic showdown. Maybe the friendship just seems like it has run its course.
    • Slowly contact the person less. For example, if you were talking four times a week, reduce it to one time per week. [7]
    • Sometimes people using the fade out method will keep the person on their social media friend lists, but just contact them less. This is basically a way to downgrade a friendship but avoid dramatic confrontation. [8]
    • You could suggest a cooling-off period in the hopes that the person will start forging other friendships and start fading away from you when it ends.
    • Don’t be available when she (or he) wants to meet. After enough such excuses, the friend may just move on to asking other people to go, naturally reducing the friendship. [9]
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    Let go of guilt. It’s normal for people to change friends over the course of a lifetime and to go through different life cycles, in which their interests change.
    • If the former friend has really done something grievous to you, such as a clear betrayal, you are actually doing something empowering by ending the relationship. You shouldn’t feel guilty about standing up for yourself or weeding out negative influences.
    • For example, the people you had things in common with in college might not make the best of friends anymore if your life goes in a different direction from theirs both in terms of family or career.
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    Recognizing the pros and cons of passive rejection. Passive rejection is the term given to friendships you just allow to fade out. It means you avoid direct confrontation with the person you are rejecting.
    • One benefit of this kind of rejection is that it can minimize angry feelings because the person being rejected might not realize it, and there is not a showdown with negative words shared. [10]
    • One negative of this kind of rejection is that it can take a long time and requires a certain dishonesty. You’re not leveling with the person about what you’re really doing.
    • If you’re extremely close to the friend and have known them for a very long time, the fade out approach may not work. They will perceive the change too dramatically, and they will probably call you out on it.
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    Don’t ghost. “Ghosting” is a term that recently became popular when Charlize Theron broke up with Sean Penn. Whether applied to a romantic relationship or a friendship, it means you just vanish on the other person completely and stop talking to them all at once without telling them why.
    • This method is cruel to the person who used to be your friend. They will spend weeks wondering what they did wrong, and they will probably contact you again to seek answers. Thus, this method of ending a friendship won’t cause the other person to stop contact; it will make them try to contact you more.
    • Ghosting removes the possibility of closure for the other person. It’s never a good idea to end a friendship by causing hurt in another person. Furthermore, without the possibility of closure, the other person won’t feel like the friendship is completely over.
    • Ghosting has been called the “ultimate silent treatment.” It is not an honest reckoning of what went wrong in the friendship, which prevents growth in the person whose friend you don’t want to be anymore. If the other person has done something to harm your friendship, telling them will allow them to work on those things to better themselves for future friendships. [11]


  • Be real and genuine with your friends. It will go a long way.
  • There may be some hurtful things said on the person's part, but whatever you do, try to stay calm, considerate, and respectful. Don't let them bait you.
  • Try not to involve a lot of people in the end of your friendship. This is between you and the friend and doesn't need to involve many other people.

Article Info

Categories: Changing and Losing Friends