Breaking Up…With a Friend


You’ve had a falling out (again), and you’re upset. Whatever that upset is: sad, angry, disgusted – it’s bad enough that you left in a huff or hung up with a slam. You’ve been ignoring texts, and maybe the other person is, too. And while stewing, you realize this might be it.

You might have to break up.

But…it’s not the kind of break-up. It’s a friend break-up.

I’ve witnessed this a lot lately, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a few friend break-ups myself. Thinking about a friend break-up? Before you disappear, take a step back and run down this list of suggestions:

Break or Break-Up?

While both require clear communication, take a breath and think: do you want a break or a break-up? Do you want this person out of your life or do you just need some time apart?

Consider how you feel. If your feelings are hurt, there is a possibility that you might just need some time and space away from your friend. If your feelings are ALWAYS hurt, and there is little to no remorse from this friend, it might be time for a break-up. Does thinking about it make you feel ill? Are you ok with this person not having access to you or your life? If yes, keep going. If no, take some time away.

Make Good Choices

Conversations about emotions are difficult. Feelings are going to be hurt; there might be tears, vulnerability, or rage. Just thinking about the conflict might be making you anxious and nervous.

Wouldn’t it be easier just to ignore the calls, texts, and direct messages and disappear?

This “ghosting” that is often reserved for romantic relationships and dating can happen with friendships. It’s easier to ignore versus have the break-up conversation and conflict, right?

No. Have the conversation. By ghosting, you’re not being respectful to the reasons you were friends. Think back on the time before you realized you had to end this relationship. There is likely good there. Give that relationship the respect and kindness to have a conversation instead of disappearing.

Think First, Talk Second

Do not, I repeat, do not have emotional conversations. You are likely to end up with hurt feelings and saying something that you don’t mean. All conversations have four things to consider: who you’re talking to, where you’re having this conversation, what you want out of it, and how you feel. That emotion part? It can be a clear window or a concrete wall when it comes to communication.

Sit down and think about what needs to be said. It can be as simple and assertive as, “I feel upset when you do [this action or behavior], so I don’t think I would like to continue this friendship.” Remember to tie your own emotion to an action, not to a person – you’re the only one who is in control of your emotions. Saying, “You make me angry!” makes you powerless.

Keep it Calm

Another nod to emotions – if you feel them rising, take another breath, and walk away. The spectrum of “Yes, I think we should break up, too” to “How could you do this to me?” will be your friend’s reaction, so do your best to keep your own emotions in check and keep things calm.

There isn’t much you can do when it comes to being calm except pay attention to yourself: you can’t change how someone else communicates, only how you respond to it.

You’re Not Enemies

Above all, not being friends doesn’t mean you have to be enemies. You’re simply not friends – you don’t have to get hurtful or hate each other. Chances are you’ve just outgrown the friendship and need to move on.


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