How to Tell Someone You Do Not Want to Be Friends

Two Methods:Breaking Up With a Close FriendLeaving a Casual Friendship

When it's time to tell someone that you don't want to be friends anymore, how should you do it? The answer partially depends on whether you're close friends or casual friends. If this is someone you don't know well, you can fade out of the friendship either abruptly or gradually. If this is a close friend, you should tell them in person.

Method 1
Breaking Up With a Close Friend

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    Schedule a time to meet in person. Send her a text or an email to ask her to meet you in a neutral location. If you live in the same town, this is the best way to have the conversation about not being friends.[1]
    • If she asks you what you want to talk about, say something vague. For example, you might say, "I just want to share some recent decisions with you." If she persists, remind her that you'd rather talk about it in person.
    • If your friend lives out of town, send an email or text to schedule a time to talk on the phone. Obviously, in person is best, but if you live in different parts of the country this may not be an option.
    • Be aware that written words can easily be misinterpreted. This is one reason why talking directly to the other person, even though it's hard, is best.
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    Be prepared. You may have been wanting to free yourself from this friendship for a while, but when you meet with your friend, you'll need to be clear on the reasons why you're ending the friendship.[2]
    • If you need to tell them what they've done that's contributed to your decision, think about how you can phrase this as kindly and gently as possible.
    • You might not want them to know why you're ending things, and that's fine. It's okay to be vague, or to use phrases like, "Things have changed for me..."
    • Don't feel like you have to justify your decision, or defend it.
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    Remember that your decision may surprise your friend. She may be upset or angry when she hears your news. Or, she may want to try to repair the friendship. You should decide ahead of time whether you'll be open to working on the friendship, or whether your decision is final.[3]
    • If she gets angry, you'll need to be prepared to take care of yourself. You don't need to make a scene - it's fine to simply walk away.
    • Unless you've decided that you're open to repairing the friendship, keep it short. You don't have to help take care of her until she feels better. Simply state what you've decided, and tell her it's time for you both to move on.
    • Don't get involved in debating whether or not you're right or wrong.
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    Know that there may be fallout. If you've been friends a long time, chances are you share other friends with each other. These friends may be forced to "choose sides" between you and your former friend.[4]
    • Avoid the temptation to tell all your friends what your ex-friend did that caused you to end the friendship.
    • Try not to feel like you have to defend your decision to your friends, because it will only further the bad situation.
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    Don't talk about anything your ex-friend has done. Explain that it was just your decision. Your good friends may understand your reasons without additional explanation.[5]
    • Your mutual friends may also try to make you return to the friendship. If this is the case, redirect the conversation. Remind your friends that you're just trying to move on.
    • Don't try to turn anyone against your ex-friend. If you lose friends because of your decision, they probably weren't good friends anyway.
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    Move on. Don't dwell on the decision to end your friendship - what's done is done. You made the best decision you could, if you were thoughtful. Now you don't have to think about it anymore. Rehashing the choices you made, or defending your decision (even if only to yourself!) only extends the process.[6]
    • It might feel strange to not have your friend in your life anymore, but you will survive.
    • Make sure to spend time with other friends. Try doing new things, and going new places with your other friends.
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    Practice self-care. Eat well, get enough rest, and do things you enjoy.Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, and remember that ending a friendship might involve some grief.[7]
    • Focusing on the positive parts of your life - the things you enjoy about the way your life is now - can help keep you from feeling sad about your lost friendship.
    • If you find yourself falling into negative thoughts, practice turning your thoughts to something more positive.

Method 2
Leaving a Casual Friendship

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    Use the "fade out" method. Gradually seeing the person less often might be happening naturally, or you might need to consciously apply these steps. This is a good way to let someone know you don't want to be friends without verbally explaining it to them.[8]
    • This method is appropriate for casual friends who you don't really know very well.
    • If the person is a new friend, this method is less leaving a friendship than it's simply an acknowledgment that you never really became friends.
    • It might take a longer time to leave a friendship this way.
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    Decline invitations from the person. One way that you can start to minimize contact with the person is by declining invitations to do things. This may require you to tell a little white lie now and then to get out of something.[9]
    • For example, if the person asks if you want to go see a movie sometime over the weekend, then you might say something like “That sounds cool, but I already have a ton going on this weekend, so I really can’t.”
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    Excuse yourself from conversations. You may bump into the person while you are trying to build distance between the two of you, so you will need to know how to deal with those situations. Ignoring the person could lead to hurt feelings and awkwardness, so instead try to give polite excuses for why you can’t stay and talk.
    • For example, you could politely say hello to the person and then say something like, “Sorry I can’t stay and chat. I am already running late. Maybe some other time!”
    • Try to be as polite and considerate as possible. Even if you do not want to be friends with the person anymore, you never know when you might bump into each other again and keeping things civil will reduce the chance of an awkward run-in.[10]
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    Take a more active approach to ending the friendship. If your attempts to politely and gradually end the friendship do not help, then you can also try telling the person that you don't want to be friends anymore. You may just have to be direct and say something like, “You are a great person, but we are just too different. I wish you all the best, but I think we should stop spending so much time together.”
    • Try to avoid the strategy called “ghosting.” Ghosting is when you cut off all contact with the person. For example, you would need to ignore the person’s texts and emails, stop returning phone calls, and unfriend the person on social media. Ghosting can lead to hurt feelings, anger, and concerns about your well-being, so it is not ideal.[11]


  • Remember that you might just need a temporary break from the friendship. Try not to say or do anything that will make your break permanent unless you're really sure that you'll never want to be friends with this person again.
  • Err on the side of kindness.
  • If you don't want to be friends with them because you're in an argument over something, or they sometimes insult you without realizing it, see if you can just talk it out before you have to call it quits.


  • If you write down your thoughts in an email, know that she can share them with anyone, and can easily alter your meaning.

Article Info

Categories: Changing and Losing Friends