Friendships come and go but that doesn’t make ending them easy. Sure, sometimes you grow apart, other times you fight, and sometimes you just need to know how to distance yourself from a friend slowly if there are valid reasons for it.
Friend breakups are hard to navigate. Do you need to verbally end things? Do you need closure? How do you even start ending a friendship? And, do you really want to end it or just back away a little?
There is a lot that goes into learning how to distance yourself from a friend, especially without the drama.
[Read: Why a friendship breakup hurts as much as a relationship breakup]
Why you should distance yourself from a friend
Before figuring out exactly how to distance yourself from a friend, it is best to focus on why you want to. This will not only ease any guilt you may be feeling for slowly cutting someone out or down in your life but will also make it easier overall.
As I said earlier, friends come and go. It is just a part of life. It is easier when things happen naturally and you both just get busy and lose touch, but it isn’t always so simple.
People change, and when that person is a friend, it can be hard to navigate. Or maybe you changed and realized who you truly want to surround yourself with.
[Read: Are you losing a friend or just drifting away?]
It is important to remind yourself that your friends didn’t have to do something wrong for you to want to distance yourself from them. There doesn’t need to be a fight or big falling out.
Have you both moved onto different chapters in your lives? I once had a great friend of mine go through a partying phase while I was more of a homebody. We didn’t have any issues, but we had different lifestyles so we distanced ourselves from each other. Then years later, we reunited when our lives lined up better.
Do they make you feel down on yourself? Without anything tangible to comment on, if you spend time with someone and leave feeling bad about yourself ,they may be someone you want to distance yourself from.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been close for years or not. It is always best to take care of yourself first. If a friend isn’t adding to your life but is instead draining your mood and energy it may be time to distance yourself from them.
[Read: 20 signs of a toxic friend to help you recognize the rotten ones]
Often, distancing yourself from a friend can be the best thing for your well-being. And you never know, in the future, you may be close again.
How to distance yourself from a friend
Once you have come to terms with the fact that you want to distance yourself from a friend slowly, it is time to figure out the best way to move forward. Look at the history of your friendship. Have you had times where you’ve been closer and then more distant? Would taking a break from each other be normal?Have you always talked about any issues you were having? Do you think they will reach out and ask you what’s going on? Will things get weird if you share a mutual friend group?
The way you choose to distance yourself from a friend depends on that friend, and that friendship so far. You can distance yourself from a friend in a lot of ways, but choosing the right one for you and the situation is important.
[Read: Do you see the signs of a fair-weather friend in your life?]
#1 Talk to them. This may be the most awkward of the ways you can distance yourself from a friend, but it is also the most direct and the quickest. There isn’t any wondering or subtly backing away. Instead, talk to your friend about why you need some space from them.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds to let someone down or let them know you aren’t happy with your friendship, but it can leave you with the most peace.
This doesn’t need to be a big deal or even a confrontation. You can do it in person or even via text. Let them know you’ve been feeling like your friendship isn’t what it used to be and you need some space. They should understand and you may be able to reconnect at some point. [Read: When and how to end a friendship when they hold you back – A full guide with all the steps you need]
#2 Stop reaching out. I know this sounds like ghosting, but I don’t mean for it to. You don’t need to cut out all communication with someone in order to distance yourself from them. Instead, just don’t reach out first.
You can respond to them when a response is necessary but just don’t initiate it to create some space between you. They will realize you’re pulling away and will likely mirror that behavior to avoid confrontation.
#3 Mute them on social media. Sometimes being friends with someone on social media is where things go wrong. You may be fine when you hang out in person, but seeing their posts online may be what drives you nuts.
I have a close friend who I adore, but her posts on all social media platforms are petty and pointed. I find it incredibly frustrating and immature. So, I spoke to her about it. She doesn’t see an issue with it. Instead of distancing myself from her completely when we have a good friendship, I just muted her online.
This also goes for those that make you feel competitive or feel like you aren’t as successful or happy as them, just based on their posts. You don’t need to toss out all aspects of a friendship to distance yourself from that person. [Read: The dangers of social media and how it make you feel insecure]
#4 Let it happen naturally. Sometimes you can learn how to distance yourself from a friend slowly without even trying. You may not need to put any effort in to avoiding them or ignoring them. Just let it happen naturally. You may make plans less and less often.
Maybe you stop texting them, stop tagging each other in memes, and then stop liking each other’s photos. It can take time to distance yourself from a friend in this way, but it will feel like it was meant to happen.
#5 Spend more time with other friends. It won’t feel as much like you are losing a close friend or ending a friendship if you can fill your time with people who make you happy. Surround yourself with the friends you want to keep in your life.
Make those friends a priority. Appreciating the quality friends in your life that make you feel good about them and yourself will remind you that you made the right decision by distancing yourself from a friend that may not be as solid. [Read: How to make more friends who are right for you when you are lonelier than ever]
#6 Cut all ties. If you want to distance yourself from a friend who is truly toxic without all the drama of a fight, just cut them out. It can seem harsh, but for some people, this less than subtle method is all that works. Some people just don’t get the more subtle hints.
Avoid their texts and calls, don’t make plans, and unfriend them online so neither of you is reminded of the friend that is lost. [Read: The 10 scenarios where it’s okay to consider ghosting a friend]
#7 Set limits. Distancing yourself from a friend doesn’t always mean cutting them out. It can mean setting boundaries and creating limits. Maybe you have a friend you have a great time with, but when you confide in them they judge you or start drama.
Instead of cutting them out, only make plans with them when you’re going out somewhere to party. Avoid seeing them in private where you may want to vent. Only see certain friends in a group so you are less likely to break the boundaries you set.
I had a friend that used to show up at my house and let herself in or drive by and see my car and get upset if I wasn’t answering a text. I wasn’t comfortable with how she felt so comfortable in my private space. So, I set limits to only see her in groups and only text her about those plans. Eventually, she backed off and our friendship was better for it.
[Read: How to set boundaries with friends without hurting or insulting them]
Learning how to distance yourself from a friend without guilt or drama can be hard. Once you find the right method and the right balance, it isn’t hard to accomplish.
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