How do you know when a friendship is over

When It’s Time to End a Friendship and How to End It

Written by Kara Mayer Robinson

After his father died, Paul Marlow, a 36-year-old mental health advocate in Surrey, British Columbia, was at a turning point. “I saw I needed a change,” Marlow says. He wanted to let go of unhealthy habits and start fresh.

“I found myself yearning to move away from the old me, the depressed and anxiety-filled me,” he says. But as he tried to move forward, his friends held him back. While Marlow was adopting a healthier lifestyle, his friends prioritized drinking and partying.

As Marlow struggled emotionally, his friends reached out less and less, and he realized that it was time to move on.

“There can be many reasons that a friendship becomes unhealthy. But any friendship that consistently contributes to our feeling disregarded, devalued, or disrespected should be re-evaluated,” says Gina Handley Schmitt, LMHC, a psychotherapist in the Seattle area and author of Friending: Creating Meaningful, Lasting Adult Friendships.

Common Signs It’s Time to Move On

As you change and grow, you may find that old friendships no longer fit. You may drift apart naturally or realize suddenly that you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

Here are some signs that it may be time to move on.

You’re not a priority. You may notice that your friend doesn’t make an effort to be with you. Maybe they’re hard to reach or don’t seem interested. Sometimes, there’s a temporary reason, like if your friend just had a baby and is busier than before. But if you rarely feel like a priority or if you sense that your friend doesn’t think you’re worth their time, it’s best to move on.

You don’t connect at the same level. Friendships work best when both people want the same type of connection. If you want a deep personal connection but your friend can’t or doesn’t want the same thing, the friendship may become stagnant and unsatisfying, Schmitt says.

You give more than you take. At times, one person may need more than the other. But if a friend is constantly a taker and rarely a giver, it’s not a balanced friendship. If you’re always there for them but they don’t do the same for you, it may be a sign to move on.

Your friend is disrespectful or mean. Healthy friendships offer support and affirmation. If your friend doesn’t respect your feelings, it’s an unhealthy relationship. Feeling anxious or negative in your friendship is a sign that it may be best to end it.

Your friend is dishonest or holds back information. “Deep connections require trust,” Schmitt says. “And trust requires honesty.” If you can’t rely on your friend to be open or tell the truth, your relationship won’t thrive and may become a source of frustration.

You downplay your accomplishments. Some friendships are competitive. But if you hold back from sharing good news to avoid hurting your friend’s feelings, it’s a sign of jealousy. Good friends want you to succeed and are happy for you when you do.

How to End It

You have a few options if it’s time to end a friendship.

Let it go. Some friendships dissolve on their own. This was the case for Marlow. “The ending of our friendship happened slowly. I canceled plans for dinners. They stopped asking me to join them. We just kind of faded out over time,” he says.

If you try to make plans but your friend keeps flaking out, you might find that the friendship fades when you stop trying.

Talk about it. It’s often best to have a conversation about why you’re ending things so both people feel respected and can move on with an understanding of why it didn’t work out.

If you had a fight, it may be tempting to leave it at that. But having one last conversation may be a better choice, even if it’s hard to talk about what happened or why the friendship isn’t working for you anymore.

No matter how you end a friendship, try to be respectful of the other person’s feelings, especially if your breakup is one-sided.

You can be respectful while being honest and firm, Schmitt says. Tell your friend why you’re stepping away, but pay attention to how you deliver the news. Be kind and mature, especially if your friend didn’t see it coming and feels hurt or confused by your decision.

Can You Be Friends Again?

“Not all friend breakups are permanent,” Schmitt says. “Sometimes, friends find their way back to each other in a different season of their lives.” As you grow, you may change, reconnect, and form a healthier relationship later in life.

“The important thing is to remain committed to finding and keeping friendships that are healthy,” Schmitt says.

9 Signs You Should End a Friendship, According to Therapists

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  • Sometimes, you and a friend may not click the way you once did.
  • Whether you've grown apart or the relationship has become toxic, at some point, you may need to break up with a friend.
  • Here, three therapists weigh in regarding signs it's time to end a friendship.


At some point, you may feel that you and a friend don't connect anymore, whether you find you have less in common or feel they're treating you differently lately and are subtracting from your life more than adding to it.

Like a romantic relationship, you may know it's not working out, but when it comes time to breaking up with them, it's easier said than done. However, sometimes, there are signs it's time to dump a friend.

"We crave connection and to build a pack around us," Kailee Place, licensed professional counselor (LPC) at her private practice, Shifting Tides Therapeutic Solutions, in Charleston, South Carolina, told Business Insider in an email. "We may have different groups of friends that serve different purposes — from friends who enjoy going on adventures to ones who may indulge our homebody side — and healthy friendships allow us to be authentic, comfortable, and loved."

Place said the common theme in working friendships is having a friend who leaves you feeling supported and cared for. "Occasionally, friendships go sour, and it's incredibly hard to cut off a friend, but keeping a toxic friend around is draining," she said. "In the long run, it's better to cut ties, and find people who appreciate and support you. "

To Place's point, if you're not sure whether or not to cut someone out of your life, here are 9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists.

1. The friendship is consistently one-sided

Any type of relationship should be a two-way street, whether it's a platonic, familial, or romantic one. But if you find that a certain friendship is consistently one-sided, it may be time to say goodbye.

"If you're pouring energy into someone who isn't giving you the same treatment, it's not a mutual friendship," Place said. "If you are finding your friend only pops up when they need something or they are going through a hard time — but often go silent or provide very little in your time of need — it's time to say bye to this friend."

2. They betray your trust

Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

Trust is a big part of any kind of relationship, and once it's gone, it's hard to recover.

"In friendships, there are minor and major betrayals that injure trust," Melody Li, an Austin-based licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), relationship specialist, and co-founder of the Austin Counseling Collective, told Business Insider in an email.

Li said if it's a minor incident and the injuring friend shows regret and a plan to regain trust, the injured friend may give them another chance — with caution. "However, major betrayals — like seducing the friend's significant other, cheating, or stealing money — are red flags," she said. "That relationship may not be worthwhile to reexplore at all."

3. They don't keep your secrets


Along the lines of being able to trust your friend, you want to make sure that they keep private things private, according to Jill Whitney, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) who writes about relationships and sexuality at KeepTheTalkGoing. com. "You need to be able to trust your friends to respect your confidences," she told Business Insider in an email.

Many things you talk about won't be especially private, she said, and then it's probably fine for your friend to share those things with other friends. "But when you make it clear that you don't want a specific thing shared, any decent friend will honor that," Whitney said.

4. They are overly negative and pessimistic

Mikhail Mokhrushin/Strelka Institute/Flickr

Although everyone has good times and bad times, if your friend tends to be more pessimistic than optimistic, it may be a sign to end the friendship.

"If you have a friend who is consistently negative without making efforts to change, it may be time for some distance," Place said. "Most people are compassionate and empathetic of others, especially friends, but you must take care of yourself first and foremost." She said if a negative friend is bringing you down, it's reasonable to spend less time with them or take a break from them altogether.

5. You have little or nothing to talk about


Sometimes, friends drift apart, whether you have less in common or life circumstances have changed. If you have little or nothing to talk about anymore, it may be a sign your friendship as you knew it has come to an end.

"You and a perfectly nice friend can just drift apart," Whitney said. "You may have been close at one point in your lives, but now your paths have diverged so much that when you get together, it's awkward."

To save the friendship, Whitney suggested, talk about how your lives have changed or focus on an activity that both of you still like. "But you may decide to invest less time in that friendship instead," she said.

6. They create or attract drama


If your friend constantly has drama happening in their world, it may negatively affect your friendship with them. "These types of friends can seem exciting for a little while —  with things happening all the time — but it becomes clear that chaos follows this person," Place said. "You may notice relationships in their life seem to be unhealthy or chaotic, as well."

Place advises to ask yourself if this friendship is actually mutual and supportive, or if you're just being drawn into the amusement or drama. "And, sooner or later, you'll become part of the chaos versus just a spectator," she said.

Whitney agrees. "These folks are exhausting," she said. "They suck you into their tale of woe — they blame all their troubles on someone else or won't keep a steady job, yet constantly complain how broke they are." She said that, out of compassion, you may try to help, yet they never take your advice, and the same problems keep repeating.

7. They are passive-aggressive when you say "no" to them


There will be times when you have to say "no" to a friend, whether it's regarding weekend plans or doing them a favor, and it may not be easy. Place says it's important to see how they react when you have to say "no."

"Sometimes, life happens and you need time for yourself, and that's okay," she said. "If your friend gets salty about you taking this time for yourself, that's not a healthy dynamic. A friend supports you and understands when you need to take time for yourself versus making it about themselves or being passive-aggressive."

8. They dismiss it when you raise a concern


No friendship is perfect, and you and your friend should be able to voice your concerns when one of you feels hurt or needs to address a problem. However, if you can't, there may be a problem within the friendship.

"An immature friend may say you're wrong or overreacting," Whitney said. "They may immediately turn the problem back on you and not own any part of it."

She said a sign of a quality friend, however, is that they may not agree with you on something, but they will hear you out respectfully. "They'll care about your feelings and perspective," she said. "But friends who can't have a balanced conversation about problems in your relationship may not be friends worth keeping."

9. They make you feel worse, not better


When you're with a friend, hopefully, they make you feel better, not worse. If it's the latter, it may be time to cut ties.

"If you find that every time you've been with a certain friend, you feel worse afterward, take a good look at what's going on," Whitney said. She said to consider a few factors: Do they constantly compare you negatively to themselves or other people? Do they consistently point out your faults? Do they mock you, maybe in an "Oh-I'm-just-joking-but-still hurtful" way?

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How to understand that friendship has exhausted itself: advice from psychologists

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Man among people Know yourself


and decide whether to continue communicating with this or that acquaintance.

  1. Would we still have a good relationship if I didn't take the initiative myself?

  2. What “aftertaste” does I have after talking with this person?

  3. Have I been able to establish healthy personal boundaries in our interactions and does my friend follow them?

  4. How often do we help each other and is the balance disturbed?

Psychologist Andrea Bonyor of Georgetown University thinks these questions can be helpful, but they should be answered within the context and history of your relationship as a whole.

If your friend has been paying little attention to you lately, think about the possible reasons - maybe he is just having a difficult period in his life?

“Perhaps your friend is going through a difficult or transitional period: for example, he is going through the death of his parents or he has a child. Or he has not communicated with you for some time due to psychological problems, depression or anxiety. If your relationship with a friend is clearly out of balance, it is important to understand whether this is a temporary phenomenon for obvious reasons, or if there is a serious disagreement, because of which it may be better to end the relationship with this person, ”he explains.

If you realize that one of your friends has begun to negatively influence your life, how to break off relations with him as painlessly as possible for both? Here's what the experts say.

How to understand that friendly relations have exhausted themselves?

Not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime, that's fine. Of course, no one suggests getting rid of friends because of the first petty grievance. But it is worth allowing yourself to stop communicating with certain people if the relationship with them no longer brings positive emotions.

“You don't have to be friends with people who are on a different path in life or who aren't ready to support you in reaching your goals. Sometimes we "outgrow" each other. This is natural as we develop and change,” recalls psychotherapist Deborah Dali.

A strong friendship means mutual help: although it is not always perfectly balanced, in the long run you should be more or less "in the calculation"

If a friend is selfish and constantly demands time, attention and support, while not reciprocating perhaps the relationship has run its course.

Another sure sign: the mere thought of communicating with a friend already tires you. “The prospect of meeting depresses you, although before you were always happy. Perhaps this person began to do things that are contrary to your principles, and you are thinking about whether you want to be friends with someone who behaves this way, ”says Deborah Dali.

“Pay attention to how you feel when a friend texts you or invites you to go somewhere together,” advises psychologist Marie Land. If there is anxiety or a bad feeling, this is an occasion to reflect.

How to end a relationship with a friend the right way

When it comes to romantic relationships, it is considered impossible to just let them go away on their own. But both Deborah Dali and Marie Land believe that this is acceptable in relationships with friends. “I don’t think it’s always necessary to directly tell a friend that you don’t want to be in a relationship. Often it is enough to gradually reduce communication to nothing, and he will understand everything himself, ”explains Deborah Dali.

Marie Land shares this view: “Imagine your interaction with a friend like a tennis match. Start responding with one "serve" for every two "serves" of a friend. Gradually let us understand that you are busy and not ready to communicate.

If you want to restore a relationship, it is worth explaining what you do not like in them now; if not, you don't have to give a specific reason why you no longer want to spend time together.

“I'm all for honesty, but sometimes you have every right not to worry too much about a friendship fading away. There is nothing wrong with innocent lies like “I spend so much time on work and hobbies now that I rarely get to meet friends!”

However, if this person was your close friend and you feel that you owe him an explanation, or there are unresolved issues between you, Deborah Dali advises inviting him for a cup of coffee and discussing everything: “Let him know that you both have outgrown this relationship and it will be better for everyone if you only occasionally communicate in the future. Be prepared for the fact that a friend may be offended or angered by this, and think over a plan of action in advance in this case.”

Still, you shouldn't suddenly stop talking. “If a friend doesn’t get hints, it’s your duty to tell him honestly and directly (no matter how awkward this conversation may be) that your life paths seem to diverge,” explains Andrea Bonyor.

Shahida Arabi "Toxic People"

Unfortunately, none of us is immune from dealing with toxic people, which can be colleagues, a family partner, or even parents. Toxicity can manifest itself in different ways. But an important life skill that needs to be developed is the willingness to fight back against any manipulator and all possible manifestations of toxicity in a relationship.


Text: Nikolai Protsenko Photo source: Unsplash

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How to accept the fact that a friendship is over and move on.

This post is also available in: Italian

It is never easy to stop being friends with someone who has been close for a long time, but there are situations when it is necessary to do it. How to accept the fact that friendship is no more.

This has happened to all of us! The person was your closest friend and you shared with him all the sorrows and joys. But the moment came when you became strangers to each other and it was time to leave, because your friendship ended - it became fake.

Watching a friend become a stranger and disappear from your life is not easy, even rather difficult! For many years you were each other's support and were always ready to help, rejoiced, cried and shared all the bitterness of defeats and failures. And then the moment came when your friendship was transformed and turned into nothing. Yes, it happens and is always sad !

How to understand that friendship is over, how to overcome that feeling of bewilderment that devours from the inside? How to put things in order in the soul of and in thoughts and put in order their emotions, which at this moment are not very pleasant.

First of all, let's figure out how to understand when to end a friendship?

Firstly, friendship sometimes ends not only because you are not interested in each other and you have nothing more to talk about, friendship can simply come to its end by itself. you with a friend have become different , have achieved different social status, you have different views on the world, or something happened in your relationship that cannot be forgiven and cannot be changed. Why get angry, endure and accept what you don’t want. You have become different people and you are no longer on the path. Everything ended by itself! And friendship must end!

Let's ask ourselves, what does friendship give you? You are interested in your friend's hobbies, he can tell you something new, teach you something, and you share his lifestyle! This is the kind of person you should be friends with.

How do you put an end to a friendship?

Let's start with the fact that if something breaks down in a relationship with a girlfriend or friend, then probably there is a certain feeling of guilt or resentment between you . Who was to blame is no longer the essence! It's just that you're probably not on your way.

Let's pay attention to this issue and write a letter (by hand or electronic, but not in whatsapp) to a former friend, where we will explain the reasons for your breakup. It is necessary to make it clear to a person that not being with him is not selfishness and lack of attention, but an unwillingness to get bogged down in a heap of insults. Thoughts should be expressed calmly and without pretensions. And remember that the person who hurt you taught you a lot! It was an experience and a very important one!

It is better to keep explanations to a minimum, the more we go into details, the more likely the risk of harming the opponent. Try not to remember the bad, focus on the best that happened between you. Thank the person for the time you were there and try to end the letter on a positive note. Because we don't know what's ahead of us.

Learn from mistakes? First of all, stop blaming yourself and think better about why the person did this to you so that you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past in the future. This does not mean that you have to become different and change your behavior in friendship, just analyze yourself in your tandem with a friend.

How to overcome the end of a friendship if a friend has left you?

Guilt again?! Try to avoid this by thinking that the person who decides to end the friendship with you is making his choice.

Learn more