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How to Break Up with a Friend: The Respectful Steps You Must Follow

Friendship breakups can be worse than a relationship breakup, but sometimes, you have no choice. So it’s vital to learn how to break up with a friend.

how to break up with a friend

Sometimes friendships come in phases or waves; other times, they are short-lived, and yes, they can last a lifetime. But, when things have run their course or you’re in different places in your lives, learning how to break up with a friend in the most respectful way possible is a great life skill to master.

Just because a friendship has to end, it doesn’t mean you have to end things sourly. Even if they no longer serve a significant purpose in your life, you still need to cut the chord respectfully.

Friendship has an unrealistic element of foreverness. You’ve heard “Best Friends Forever” and “relationships come and go, but friends are forever.”

These are lovely ideas, but friendships just don’t work that way. People come and go in our lives. No matter how much we want our friendships to last, that’s not the way it goes.

Just like a romantic relationship, a friendship can be dysfunctional, codependent, and even dangerous. [Read: How to deal with fake friends and the right ways to cut ties with them]

Should you break up with a friend?

Sometimes, a friendship just dies out. You aren’t in the same place in your lives, and things grow cold. Other times things feel wrong. If your friendship isn’t adding anything positive to your life, it may be time to break up with your friend. It’s possible that you grew in different directions, or it’s no longer a friendship worth having in your life.

The only person who can be able to tell if you should break up with a friend or not is yourself. If you feel in your gut that it’s the right thing to do and you’re no longer left with a choice, you should cut ties.

Does this friendship make you feel bad? Do you think the friendship is draining you more than it offers you? Are you codependent on that friend? If you said yes to any of these questions, it might be time to consider learning how to break up with that friend.

But, sometimes, a friendship is only in a rut. It’s essential you know the difference before doing something as drastic as breaking up with them. [Read: What is a true friend? The 12 key marks of a real friend]

Why do friendships end?

There are just things beyond our control and sometimes, we can’t always make a friendship work. People change and even if it’s in a different direction than we expected, that change can abruptly end a friendship. It’s also possible that a friendship ends because it has become toxic, draining, or one-sided.

When one stops trying to meet the other in any way they can, just like a relationship falls apart, the same goes for friendship. So learning how to break up with a friend is a pretty important life skill, especially if your gut has been telling you to end things for quite some time now.

Even if it hurts and you’re hit with the realization that nothing will ever be the same again, it must happen. Otherwise, you both won’t grow and if the relationship has become draining, they will prevent you from being happy. [Read: Why a friendship breakup hurts as much as a relationship breakup]

A personal story on breaking up with a friend

One of my best friends from high school and I went to different colleges. I was a year ahead of her and was over parties as she was discovering that culture. Although we loved hanging out, what we were interested in at the time was so different.

We never broke our friendship but because our lives were in different places we didn’t see each other and barely spoke for almost two years. I missed her, but we just drifted.

Once she graduated, I reached out to congratulate her and we caught up. Since then, we speak almost every day. I’m so glad we didn’t end our friendship over something simple and temporary because we offer so much to each other now.

But, if instead of drifting, we brought out the worst in each other, saying goodbye would have been the right thing to do.

[Read: How to end a friendship when they do nothing but hold you back]

For example, a childhood friend of mine and I were constantly in competition. There was always drama. One of us would blame the other for things while we also relied on one another for so much.

We stayed so close because we just always were. Our parents even grew up together. But, the friendship was poisoning both of us. It was more stress, anger, and drama than it was worth. It didn’t provide us what a friendship should.

I noticed that the days we didn’t talk or see each other, I was a lot more calm and happy. I brought it up to her one day. She didn’t take it well. We had been friends for over a decade.

It would be a big adjustment to just cut each other off. I tried to explain that our past isn’t erased because of what things are like now, but we weren’t good in each other’s lives. [Read: How to tell if a friend is toxic and brings unhappiness to your life]

Eventually, she accepted what I was saying. And now, years later we are both better off. We are both happy and functioning so much better apart. We keep up on social media but away from each other. Our lives are healthier and happier.

It was a difficult thing to admit after sharing so much history, but just like any breakup, it was the right thing in the long run.

How to break up with a friend

Understanding how to break up with a friend isn’t something you should take lightly. It should be done when necessary but also be done with respect. Maybe your friendship isn’t what it used to be, but that doesn’t discount the good times you’ve shared.

So, when you have determined that you want to break up with a friend, the next step is to learn how to do so with the proper care and respect.

Because I have experience with this, I hope what I went through can help you learn how to break up with a friend in the best way possible. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re being taken for granted by the people you love]

1. Be honest

Making up an excuse in this instance won’t do you any good. No matter your reasoning for ending the friendship, this person probably knows you well and will know if you’re lying. Be honest. We know it’s difficult, but you need to be honest and real with them if you want to know how to break up with a friend.

Sugarcoating the truth will only prolong the pain and damage in your friendship, so better to be honest from the start. Ease into a conversation about how your friendship has been affecting you.

Don’t blame them or point fingers, but explain that you feel like your friendship isn’t what it used to be. That should be a straightforward but honest start for the conversation. [Read: Being brutally honest: 13 scenarios when it’s an obligation]

2. Be open to their side

Let them give their opinion. Let them ask you questions. Just like during a romantic breakup, closure can help sort things out. Don’t shut them off from expressing their explanation or side in the matter.

Whatever reason the friendship became draining, toxic, or even just insignificant, let them explain how and why they did what they did. No matter how problematic, losing a friend is hard, but getting answers can help process that pain.

Similar to how a relationship has closure, this also goes for friendship. Getting the answers you need will help you accept the friendship better. [Read: 15 signs of envious friends to recognize the harmful ones]

3. Thank them

Let them know how much you appreciate the good parts of your relationship. You will always have a bond and a past. Thank them for everything you have shared when you end things. Just because you’re learning how to break up with a friend, it doesn’t mean you have to end things on a negative and sour note.

Remember that you still had a friendship with them, even if you want to end things. So being appreciative of the good moments will help you leave things on a positive note.

Make sure they know you aren’t erasing them from your life but doing what is best for both of you moving forward. [Read: How to be grateful: 20 authentic ways to appreciate and express it]

4. Suggest a break

Suggest a break. Instead of a full-on break up with a friend, let them know you need time apart. Maybe you spend too much time together and need space. Be open to reconnecting and catching up when you are both in a healthier headspace.

Maybe a break would be less drastic and for all you know, your friendship is something that can be fixed. So instead of learning how to break up with a friend, maybe you should learn to take space and time away from them first.

This is how you’ll adequately assess whether a break is truly something you need or not. [Read: Why your codependent friendship is more unhealthy than you think]

5. Let it be

Not everyone will take this news well. A breakup with a friend can be worse than a breakup with a lover. Friendships can run deeper and matter more. If you suggest the idea to a friend things haven’t been going well with, and they react badly, let them. They may start drama or retaliate. Maybe they spread rumors.

These things happen. This sort of reaction makes sense because they are likely hurt, but it also shows that distancing yourself from them was a smart move.

Take this as the assurance you need that you made the right call after all. Just let them react and be dramatic, and be on your way. [Read: 15 signs of a bad friend you should always be on the lookout for]

6. Pinpoint the friendship’s major issues

When you break up with someone romantically, there’s usually a specific reason why you did it *infidelity, for example, or trouble communicating*.

But if you’re looking for answers to why or how to break up with a friend, it may be hard to find out what caused the break up unless there was a heartbreaking betrayal.

If you’re having trouble putting your feelings about the friendship into words, take some time to think about what’s made the connection unhealthy enough to need to break up. The problem might be that there is always conflict in the friendship, you’re both in different places in your lives, or you’ve outgrown the company.

You don’t like how you act when you’re hanging out with them, or you feel like you have to fit into a particular “box.” They are too dependent on you, and you feel emotionally drained every time you have a conversation with them.

To figure out what to do next, you need to know where you are. [Read: When & how to end a friendship if they’re toxic & holding you back]

7. Keep the confrontation warm and use “I feel” statements

Be respectful and kind when you’re ready to break up with your friend. Doing so will benefit you now and in the future. Here, you aren’t pointing fingers at anyone. Instead, you’re explaining how the friendship has made you feel and why you need to break up with the person who is now your friend.

It’s essential to think about how what you say will make your friend feel. For example, when someone says, “You’re too self-centered,” they mean that. Instead of making them feel bad about themselves, you can say, “I think we talk too much about your problems, and there isn’t enough emotional space for me to be myself in our friendship.”

You don’t have to hold anyone else responsible for how you feel if you use “I feel” statements. This shifts the focus to your own needs and wants. All in all, no one can disagree with your feelings or needs because they are your own. [Read: How to keep a conversation going & make anyone love talking to you]

8. Consider talking to a therapist before ending a friendship

A neutral person can be beneficial when you’re in the middle of something with your friend and want to change your point of view. When you think about breaking up with your friend, it can be easy to get lost in all the bad things that happen. A professional might be able to help you.

You might even find that a full-blown breakup isn’t the best way to go.

For example, you might learn to communicate your own needs better if you think the friendship is one-sided. In case you need to break up with your friend, you’ll already have the help of a professional to deal with the feelings that come after.

Because of the friendship, there may still be guilt, anger, or resentment that you need to work through. A therapist can help you do this. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your relationships]

9. Give your friend a heads up about what’s going on

If you and your buddy have a large number of mutual friends, the others in your circle will likely get suspicious. Confusion will be avoided if they are kept informed *not to mention speculative gossip*.

As a result, it shows your other friends that you care about them and understands how difficult it may be to transition from one friendship to the next.

In addition, it demonstrates how much you still respect the people in your life that you take a healthy and proactive approach to sustain relationships. [Read: What to talk about with friends & ask the questions most ignore]

10. Agree to check in with each other from time to time

When you break up with a friend, you may still have warm feelings towards them. After you break up with them in a healthy way, you often have positive sentiments, feelings of closeness, and feelings of intimacy.

Plan ahead during the friendship breakup if you think it would be good to keep in touch with your old friend from time to time. Lay out rules together, like that you’ll text each other every three months or have a phone call if something big happens.

[Read: What makes a good friend: 15 traits we desperately seek in a friend]

So, how to break up with a friend?

Let them react how they will. Eventually, they will accept it, and you’ll both be better off.

A friendship breakup might feel like the absolute worst, but it’s sometimes necessary if you’re no longer contributing anything positive to one another’s lives. Just like relationships have to end, the same goes for friendships.

Learning how to break up with a friend isn’t an easy task, but remind yourself why you’re doing it. It’s better to part ways than settle for something no longer working, or worse, making you miserable!

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The Anonymous Kitty is a naughty secret. She’s the voice of inappropriate thoughts, awkward confessions and racy minds… or she’s probably just too embarra...