When & How to End a Friendship If They’re Toxic & Holding You Back
Bad friends are all around us. Learn to recognize them right away, and most importantly, know when and how to end a friendship that’s bad for you.
Let’s face it, bad friends are everywhere. We have more “friends” than ever before, and yet, can you really count your true friends with the fingers from one hand? Once you realize this, you need to learn how to end a friendship that’s bad for you, and more importantly, recognize the specific points when a friendship in your life starts to turn sour.
All of us have had our share of bad friends through the years. But have you really learnt your lesson, or do you still find yourself in a bad friendship even now?
One of the first things we have to understand about bad friends is that they suck the life out of you, slowly and surely. Instead of trying to fix someone up all the time, learn to understand when to end a friendship, especially if it’s a bad one.
Life with bad friends and why it makes everything worse
Even since we were little boys and girls, we’ve been made to believe that friendships last forever, that our friends are always going to be there for us. We were our happiest when we were with friends. Besides being our friends, they’re our support group, the people we spend the most time with, and the people who help create our memories of life.
But friendship also comes with a “conditions apply” clause. The give-and-take policy works here too, as with everything else in the world.
When we were kids, there was always the bully of a friend who wanted the best toys, and pushed around other kids if they refused his every beck and call. And now during our adult life too, things aren’t very different.
You don’t have to push someone around to make someone feel helpless and awkward. As grownups, we’ve learned a whole new set of ways to do just that! [Read: How to spot manipulative people and stop playing the victim]
Understanding a bad friendship
Many of us find ourselves in the middle of a bad friendship. Every one of us has a bad friend in our own group of friends.
Now who exactly is a bad friend? For starters, they are the ones who expect to be front and center when you guys hang out, the ones who take over the story you’ve been telling somebody else, and the ones that try to dominate you subtly every second of your life.
So why are we still friends with a bad friend? The answer is totally up to you. As we all know, the very nature of friendship can be tricky. If you don’t have to pop an aspirin after every visit from your annoying friend, then you’re probably fine for now.
But if you feel like you’ve been hammered on the head every time you spend time with this bad friend of yours, then you really need to look deep into your friendship and give this bad relationship a thorough inspection.
It’s okay for you to grow apart from someone
You might not even have to deal with this friend holding you back. It could just be that you two have different lives and aren’t really close anymore. You don’t have to hold on to that friendship out of obligation. That only adds to your guilt and resentment. Sometimes, you just have to let go of them and move along your own path of life. [Read: Signs you have bad friends and need to end the friendship]
The early signs of a friendship that’s going bad
It’s not easy to approach someone and tell them you no longer want to be friends. It can even be more awkward than breaking up with someone. What you need to figure out first is when the friendship is truly over. Here’s how to know it’s time to end it.
#1 You’re stressed when making plans with them. Friends are there to keep your life fun and interesting. You shouldn’t be dreading getting together and if that’s the case, your friendship might need to end. Pay attention to how you feel when they ask to hang out.
#2 You’d rather be with other people. When you’re hanging out and just not enjoying yourself at all, it’s time to take a deeper look at your friendship. You should never have to spend time with people you don’t like. End the friendship if this is the case 100% of the time. [Read: 10 types of toxic friends to avoid]
#3 You ignore them. When they text or call or even talk to you in person, you either ignore them or tune them out. This is a clear sign you’re not interested in anything they have to say. Not only that, but you’re also not being a good friend back. And if you’re not a good friend, you must not care about them.
#4 They have opposing views to yours. We all grow apart and form different opinions over the years. Some of those differences are perfectly fine to work through, but others just aren’t. You can’t get past opposing beliefs and values.
#5 They’re negative and don’t support your goals. Whenever you bring up some goals or work that you’re really excited about, how do they react? Are they happy for you and encouraging your success or do they sit back and spew bitter words about it? I think you know which is a sign you need to ditch them. [Read: 12 ways to stop negative people from stealing your energy]
When to end a friendship with a bad friend
If you’re seeing any of the earlier signs of a friendship souring, those are pretty big alarms you just can’t ignore anymore. But if you’re still not sure, here’s everything that leads to the point of no return. If you see these signs, it’s definitely time for you to start wondering how to end the friendship!
#1 When you feel frustrated. Do you conclude your visits feeling depressed, frustrated or angry? A good friend is supposed to make you feel happy and content. If your friend drags in an air of negativity, perhaps it’s time to end the friendship. Make up an excuse or get the hell out of their life.
#2 If your energy is being zapped. Some bad friends can make you feel dull and annoyed. It could be because they constantly demand your attention like a two year old or drone on only about their problems or achievements. You can do without these types of bad friends, you aren’t a baby-sitter anyway. [Read: The creepy signs your friend is actually an energy vampire]
#3 Too much drama in their life. Do you feel drained and tired because of a friend’s constant drama? Any friend who behaves like a diva needs to get their head examined. We have Netflix and other sources to serve us this purpose. We don’t need a friend like that around us.
#4 Your friend makes you feel bad. What use is a friend who offends you all the time? Does your friend put you down or makes you lose your confidence? We have our enemies to do that job for us.
#5 A bad friend who cuts you down with criticism. Honesty is very much appreciated, but when friends pass sarcastic comments and take backhanded digs at you, things can’t get any worse. Jealousy and competition is healthy, but not in excess. [Read: The subtle signs of a jealous friend you may not always recognize]
#6 Your friend wants advice all the time. Your friend keeps harping about their partner or their love life, or constantly asks for your help to meet new dating potentials. And even if you do offer your advice or help, they don’t follow through with it. Instead, this friend only wants more help all the time.
#7 Behaves like a dictator. All of us have friends who are bossy now and then. But there should be a thin line between being assertive and just plain mean and bitchy. It may work in a teen movie, but in real life, there’s really no point in pampering a bad friend or becoming a part of their entourage. [Read: How to spot a fake friend – The signs they can fake but can’t hide]
#8 Green eye alarm. We’re all possessive of our friends but when your pal starts to ask a lot of questions about your other friends, start following you everywhere or doesn’t like it when you meet new friends, it’s high time you end the friendship or make sure your friend is not turning into a green eyed monster.
#9 Gossiper. If your friend is constantly making jibes at other friends, chances are, this bad friend may be talking bad about you behind your back too. Who needs a friend who will do more harm than good?
#10 They always have an excuse. Some friends never seem to find time for you. They always come up with lame excuses whenever you need them. But they expect you to always be there for them. And if you can’t give them your time, they make it a point to constantly remind you about how bad a friend you are. [Read: Here are all the reasons why you need to ditch flaky friends]
The world is full of friends, and then some bad friends. Be wary of those friends that drag you down and understand when to end a friendship and when to keep one. It can make life a lot happier for you.
Trust and respect are earned and should be cherished. If your friend isn’t inspiring, motivating, helpful, trustworthy, or active in your life, dumping your friend might be in order.
How to end a friendship for good
Now that you’ve addressed whether or not it’s time to end things, here’s how to actually do it. Keep in mind that some people will take it better than others. Be prepared for different reactions.
#1 Face the truth of the matter. Just accept it first. You have to do something about this leech in your life. When you just face the truth and decide to go through with it no matter what, things get a hell of a lot easier.
#2 Refrain from just blocking your friend overnight. You’re an adult, act like it. Abruptly cutting people out from your life is for teenagers.
Imagine all the dirt your friend has on you, and think of what would happen if it got out. Better yet, think of the good times you’ve shared, and end things in a way that honors them. [Read: 17 bad friends you should unfriend from your life]
#3 Talk to someone else. Speak to someone you trust, preferably someone who isn’t directly acquainted to this friend of yours, and explain what you’re feeling. And make sure it’s a good decision. They might be able to offer insight you haven’t considered. [Read: 18 ways to build supportive, strong friendships]
#4 Don’t start complaining to your other friends about this friend. If you need to vent, pick a non-mutual friend. It’s true, people ask questions and want to get to the bottom of the situation between you two. There’s one thing most tend to forget—it’s not their problem.
Don’t discuss these issues with friends who are connected to your old friend, and avoid falling into the trap that is venting to the wrong people. You never know who might misconstrue what you say, and run off with the wrong information. Avoid drama at all costs. If you must vent, pick someone who isn’t in that circle of friends. [Read: 14 ways to instantly recognize fake people and stay away]
#5 Actually go talk to that person. Don’t do this over text or the phone. Just meet up with them and have a talk. It might feel a little odd but at this point, they might already be feeling like you’re not very good friends anyway. It could just help them feel better knowing you at least had the respect to say something to them in person.
#6 Explain how you’re feeling. Go into some detail about what’s happened and why you want to stop being friends. If they do care about you, they should keep an open mind. Plus, they can probably sense something is off and this could help create some clarity for them.
#7 Give them a chance to explain themselves. Chances are, you already have and nothing changed. Now it’s time to say your peace and leave. By this point, you spoke to your friend and tried to patch things up. Clearly, it didn’t work, and chances are it isn’t going to.
You’re not in a relationship, it’s a friendship. So, there’s a sense of urgency always lacking when it comes to fixing certain issues. Express how you feel, and why you need to stop being friends. Keep it simple and polite. If they overreact, you’re still honorable. [Read: 14 signs your best friend isn’t your best friend anymore]
#8 Don’t just go ghost on them. If you try to ghost them, it’ll turn very ugly. When it comes to knowing how to end a friendship, you can’t just try to erase them from your life and stop responding to everything they send you. This is how people get confrontational.
Ghosting might work with someone you only went out with for one date but not with someone you’ve been friends with for a long time. [Read: 10 scenarios when it’s okay to ghost a friend]
#9 Don’t feed into their negative reaction. Your friend might freak out. It’s only natural after basically being rejected. Don’t feed into it. Just up and leave if they’re making a scene and you’ll be able to avoid a bigger problem than it needs to be.
#10 Stand your ground and reasoning. They might try to apologize for stuff that won’t make a difference or even try to change your mind. Don’t listen. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you just can’t be friends anymore, then you’ve thought long and hard about it. Don’t let them try to derail you and make you suffer through their friendship longer.
#11 Opt for a public setting. This is in an attempt to reduce the chances of a freak-out. Nobody wants to yell when surrounded by a bunch of strangers. Ask them to get coffee or a drink with you and just explain some things. Don’t drag it out longer than you have to. [Read: The 10 biggest signs to watch out for with toxic friends]
#12 Remember, your friend may be resentful and start an argument. Don’t fall for it. If this happens, take the high road and simply bite your tongue. Let them have their say and shape things however they want.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Your friendship is over. They can go on thinking whatever it is they want. All that matters is that you’re at peace with your choice. [Read: Drama queen alert! 12 steps to calmly deal with the diva]
#13 Keep it short and simple. There’s no need to make it a big, long discussion. What you really need to do is explain your situation, how you feel, and why you just can’t be friends with them anymore. You don’t have to wait for their explanation because that shouldn’t mean anything at this point.
#14 Stop making plans to hang out. Ex-friends don’t linger around. After you speak your peace, stop going over to their house or meeting for coffee.
It may be hard, especially if your friend and you spent a lot of time together. The ties were cut for a reason. Remember that reason, and move on with your life. [Read: The art of not giving a shit – How to not care in 15 steps]
#15 If you have ties together, you can’t avoid your friend. Be respectful, but keep some distance. Make small talk when cornered, or politely greet them as you walk by. Don’t ignore your friend like they’re a perfect stranger. Otherwise, you get a hurt and resentful ex-friend who causes more drama. It’s not something you need in a professional setting.
#16 Leave and don’t look back. Just pick up and carry on. You won’t be able to stay friends with everyone you want to throughout your life. Sometimes you’ll have to let people go and in this case, it’s necessary for your well-being. Just leave and don’t worry about them. They’ll recover just fine.
#17 You may need to cut out your mutual friends. Remember how you shouldn’t gossip about the issues to other people? Well, sometimes you should cut those people out too. Particularly if they’re the type to keep bringing up your ex-friend and asking 21 questions about your problems every time you see them.
#18 Live your life to the fullest. Ignore any rumors that may arise. If your friend is stuck in high school mode and goes around talking badly behind your back, or spreading rumors about you, evaluate who it is you’re hanging around with. Once a friendship is over, you shouldn’t be hearing from, or about, your ex-friend. If somehow you still hear stories, cut out the people talking about it or ask them to stop.
Don’t clear up the rumors, don’t spread more to get back at your old friend. Live your life and preoccupy yourself with your own adventures. Eventually, it’ll all stop, not just because of passing time, but because you won’t give into the game.
#19 Fill your life with other people, preferably people who inspire and motivate you. At least, won’t repeat the same mistakes as your old friend. You’ve already let one friend go, if not several, so now is the time to be more observant and cautious when you make new friends.
Don’t befriend people who strike you as like your old group of friends, try a new direction. [Read: How to make new friends: 15 ways to do it right]
If someone tells your ex-friend about everything you’ve been up to since the falling out, it could be time to let them go too.
We all have to know how to end a friendship for those difficult times in our lives. It’s okay to need to get away from someone as long as you do it well.
Understanding how to end a friendship can seem awkward, making you feel guilty and deserving of all the drama to come. Try to fix things, but remember you’re not a bad person if you stop being their friend. You need to do what’s right for you, rather than being held back by people who do you no good anymore.