There are numerous justifications for ending a friendship. These can range from problems that are very easy to define, like feeling as though you’re always giving a friend more than they offer you in return, like attention, care, or something more tangible, like gifts or time, to issues that are much harder to define, like lying, stealing, or emotionally abusing others.
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Even when you can clearly see why a friend has offended you, knowing when enough is enough and where to draw the line can be a challenging obstacle to overcome. Because we’re frequently left in the dark about whether a friendship should end, unlike romantic breakups, which are frequently discussed in TV shows, on social media, and in the celebrity news cycle. In addition to being particularly challenging to handle, problems between friends can also be difficult to discuss and, as a result, difficult to receive advise on. “The words “friend” and “fun” are frequently used interchangeably. We frequently believe that friendship must be enjoyable, so we avoid discussing it when it isn’t.
But, despite how difficult it can be to process and discuss friendship breakups, they occasionally become necessary, particularly when dealing with poisonous or cunning individuals. We consulted professionals to get their advice on the questions you should be asking yourself before making the decision to end a platonic relationship.
- Is your friend aware of the problem?
“When discussing friendship breakups, the first thought that always enters one’s mind is, “Does this person realize that it’s coming? Would they react in shock? Because I’ve seen a lot of people do this too soon,” friendship coach and Friend Forward podcast host Danielle Bayard Jackson tells SELF.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to offer your friend an opportunity to improve their conduct, just as a wise manager would never fire an employee for performance difficulties without a warning. Jackson asserts that it is simple to mistake the time spent reflecting on a friendship and discussing it with others for communication with the one person who genuinely needs you.
It’s simple to presume that someone in your life knows exactly what they’re doing when they act in an objectively bad way. If you don’t communicate how these behaviors made you feel, even if a friend is aware of their error (lost their anger, spoiled your birthday, broken a promise), they won’t be able to understand it fully.
If you’re unsure of how to approach these discussions, Jackson advises viewing them as invitations—for the friend to apologize, to alter their behavior, or to explain why a mistake was made—instead of accusations, which are more likely to put them on guard and have a lower chance of leading to resolution. In real life, this might entail introducing yourself by asking, “Are you in the middle of anything right now?
- Is ending a friendship the only option really?
If admitting that a friendship has to change is the first step toward a resolution, then defining exactly how that change will look is the next. Jackson asserts that ending a friendship doesn’t always entail removing the other person from your life. Instead, altering your expectations can be one approach.
According to Jackson, “A friendship sometimes only needs reclassification.” “We frequently experience disappointment when we think of someone as a ‘tier one’ friend. We anticipate that they will call, that we may discuss our most significant happenings with them, and that they will attend our significant events. If you reevaluate the tier that person sits on—and how close of a friend they consider you—you can feel less upset or frustrated by their actions when they consistently let you down by not showing up or returning your concern. “ You release someone from those expectations the moment you start treating them more like a “tier three” buddy by not accommodating their schedule, not entrusting them with important matters, and not expecting them to check in.
- What motivated your time and effort into this friendship?
There are many valid reasons to desire to maintain a friendship, but not all of them are good for you. Jackson and Dr. Korrel concur that the relationship would be worth reevaluating if your response to this question makes you feel anxious, obligated, or lonely.
According to Dr. Korrel, “psychologically, there’s usually a reason why we’re sticking with someone who dims our brightness, and those things might be diverse and varied.” “Our ties to the most toxic friends are frequently maintained by our fear of being alone. These kinds of emotions are common in many various aspects of our lives, such as relationships and the fear that you can’t perform better than the other person or the fear that you’re not deserving of a better position at work. That may be a recurring topic throughout our life. Although anxiety over abandonment and loneliness are more significant issues to address—and are frequently best handled with the assistance of a therapist—they are crucial to take into account when it comes to any relationships, including romantic ones.
We are only given so much time and energy. What friendships are you neglecting if you’re spending everything on this person? Jackson declares The amount of wasted energy that certain friendships need, whether it be at hangouts that don’t make you happy or, on the other hand, through your persistent attempts to set up a catchup with a friend who always flakes, is a huge part of what makes some friendships so challenging.
According to Jackson, it’s a good idea to put the issue into perspective by realizing how long you’ve been considering breaking up with a buddy and how much time and effort it’s taken you. It may be best to just let things go if you’ve been debating ditching a buddy for a very long time, she advises.
- Is the good greater than the bad?
The answer to this query is generally rather clear if a buddy has treated you cruelly for years. Likewise, if the question brings back only happy memories and hope, your response will likewise be pretty obvious.
When this question reveals a complex jumble of emotions, things get difficult. It may be a symptom of a lack of respect if you feel equally fond of and frustrated by your friend. Dr. Korrel asserts that in order to distinguish between sincere friends and ambivalent ones, it is crucial to comprehend the difference between respect and affection. For instance, ambivalent friends may display their love by giving costly birthday presents, writing adoring social media messages, or making special efforts to
Although these friendships are widespread, they are also very harmful. These friends can be detrimental to your health as well as a waste of your emotional energy. A 2014 study found that ambivalent friendships, which are characterized as having paradoxical characteristics, might be bad for our health and increase anxiety and heart rate reactivity.
Only you have the authority to decide to end a friendship. If you’re unsure, it’s time to consider what this person will add to your life and what they will take away—whether it’s your happiness, time, or energy. We all have bothersome habits and foibles, as Jackson points out. But in the end, does the good win?