In this arduous journey that we’re making through adulthood, there is a situation that every (sane) person will have to encounter at least once in their lives — ending a friendship. There are a number of valid reasons why you would need to end a friendship:
- Your friendship has become toxic
- Both of you have grown apart
- This has become a one-sided friendship
Just like a romantic relationship, maintaining a friendship takes work and quite a bit of effort. But also like any intimate relationship in your life, you can decide whether or not you want this person to continue being a part of your life. Your friends are just people, people can change and so can their values. Your funny friend’s quirky political opinions can quickly crystalize into opposing values as you get older. It’s only natural to assume that you won’t have the same friend group 20 years from now.
There’s a major stigma to breaking up with a friend. When a person leaves a friend group, it can seem like that person died. “Remember Maria? She was funny…oh well.” But let’s explore this topic in more detail, when should you break up with a friend? If you’re going to, how are you going to go about this? Let’s discuss…
Your friendship has become toxic.
Toxic friends will have to be an entire separate article series because there’s too much material (and real life examples) to go over. But here are a few ways to recognize that your friendship with someone has become toxic
- Your “friend” only comes to you when they need something from you. AKA, they can care less about you and your well-being
- They only bring negativity to your situation whenever they appear in your life. Negativity can be drama that you get pulled into, money problems, bad influences, being a 24/7 pity party etc
- The friend is consistently depending on you for emotional sustenance. You’re beyond a crutch for them, you’ve straight up become a wheelchair for their emotional well-being
- When you’ve been betrayed. Trust me, this is a deal-breaker. BYE
Both of you have grown apart.
Real talk, all friendships can grow apart at some point in time. That doesn’t mean that you can’t become closer at a later point in life. Any relationship can be very cyclical. But let’s say you simply lead completely different lifestyles or you have opposing values. Over time, you’ll have less and less things to discuss and eventually it becomes clear that you can’t maintain a relationship with people that you have nothing in common with. It can be particularly hard to end a friendship with someone that you haven’t had an official falling out with but there comes a time when you have to be particular with whom you choose to spend time with.
This has become a one-sided friendship.
Not as obvious as a toxic friendship but the break up in this situation can be just as painful. It can be easy to end up in a cycle with a friend where it feels like you’re making all of the effort and you’re constantly the one giving. Our society has presented clear rules on how a romantic partner should act but there hasn’t been an emphasis on friendships. So this type of behavior may be harder to spot. Just like any romantic break up, the friendship does not have to be toxic for you to have a valid reason for wanting to end it. If you’re truly not getting anything out of this friendship, then you don’t have a reason for this person to take up space in your life.
Now that we know how to spot a friendship that has to end, here are some ways you can end a friendship:
First of all, make sure you’ve explored all your options. Is this a relationship that can be repaired? Have you communicated how you’ve been feeling? At times, people are so wrapped up in their own problems that they may be oblivious to how they’re making you feel. Either way, you’re not doing anyone any favors by keeping all your anger pent up inside. Make sure you tell them how their behavior makes you feel because this entire situation could be resolved with just an honest conversation and a giant cake.
If you’ve already explored that route and repairing the damage is not an option, then try phasing them out. Ideally your lack of responsiveness will be enough of a communication to your friend that they’re being ghosted. But if they can’t seem to take the hint then you’ll have to have a face-to-face conversation with them regarding this, as awkward as that will be.
Make sure that you go the “it’s not you, it’s me route,” and take most of the responsibility. Just be mature and let them know that you’re not compatible any longer. While your friend will likely be super upset at first, in the long run you’ll be doing them a favor because you’re freeing them up to spend more time with people that actually want to see them.
Just remember, never say never. I’ve had many people in my life that I’ve run into many years later when we’re both in different places in our lives. Friends can always come and go from our lives but as long as we stay true to our paths in life, things will be ok.