Sadly, not all friends are forever, so it is important to learn how to break up with a friend respectfully. Use these tips to help you move on.
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.
Friendship has this unrealistic element of foreverness. You’ve heard “Best Friends Forever” and “relationships come and go, but friends are forever.” These are nice ideas, but friendships just don’t work that way.
People come and go in our lives. Sure, it is nice if you grew up with a best friend and you stay close until you grow old. It isn’t always realistic or healthy. Just like a romantic relationship, a friendship can be dysfunctional, codependent, and even dangerous.
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 friendships isn’t adding anything positive to your life, it may be time to break up with your friend.
But, how do you know the difference? How can you tell a friendship is slowing down versus when it is over for good?
Well, it is really up to you. 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 may be time to consider learning how to break up with that friend. But, sometimes a friendship is only in a rut.
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 everyday. 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.
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.
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 break up, 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.
#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.
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.
#2 Be open to their side. Let them give their opinion. Let them ask you questions. Just like during a romance break up, closure can help sort things out. Losing a friend, no matter how problematic is hard, getting answers can help process that pain. [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.
Make sure they know you aren’t erasing them from you life but doing what is best for both of you moving forward.
#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. [Read: Why your codependent friendship is more unhealthy than you think]
#5 Let it be. Not everyone will take this news well. A break up with a friend can be worse than a break up 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 a reaction makes sense because they are likely hurt, but it also shows that distancing yourself from them was a smart move.
Let them react how they will. Eventually they will accept it, and you’ll both be better off.