Is there someone you no longer want to be friends with, but don't know how to end the relationship? When you end a friendship, you will almost always hurt the other person's feelings. However, there is a gentler way to do this.
Method 1 of 3: Considering Whether to End a Friendship
Step 1. Recognize the signs
Experts have coined the term "friendshift" (literally friendship shift) to indicate the time when friendships change and transform. Try to identify the signs that precede this event by paying particular attention to your feelings when you see the photos of your friends on social networks or when you receive a call from them.
- Consider that in everyone's life there are some moments when their friendship network changes. We only have little time and energy to devote to friendships.
- Consider whether your friend increases or decreases your self-esteem. For example, do you always make passive-aggressive comments about your job or appearance? Do you feel more insecure after talking to him? In these cases, it is probably best to end your relationship.
- True friends encourage you positively, they don't make you doubt yourself.
Step 2. Assess if you are the problem
Maybe the problems in your friendship are actually internal difficulties. In that case, work on friendship or yourself before making the decision to end.
- If a friend has cheated on you or abused your trust, you may need to end the relationship.
- Spreading your secrets and trying to put yourself in a bad light at work or in a relationship are examples of cheating that can warrant ending a friendship. If you are the person who behaves this way, you should work on yourself first.
- If your motives are unfounded, for example, you are simply jealous even though your friend has done nothing wrong with you, you should probably work on yourself before ending your relationship.
Step 3. Find out if the relationship is toxic
Toxic friendships can really harm your health. One study found that people who have negative interactions with friends report higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in the body, which are linked to chronic ailments like depression and heart disease.
- An example of a toxic friend is someone who always talks about negative topics, even if they happen to him. You should consider whether the negativity depends on the situation. If a friend is simply having a hard time, it may be worth saving your relationship. However, if constant negativity is part of their way of doing things, it may be time for a change, for your own good.
- Studies have identified three types of toxic friends: those who are too competitive with you, those who constantly argue with you, and those who get too attached to you and require too much energy.
- Before ending a friendship, ask yourself if you trust the other person, if they bring out the best in you (and vice versa), if you think they respect you and care about you.
Step 4. Avoid friendships that lead you on the wrong path
You may have friends who share behavior with you that you are trying to let go of. Better to give up on relationships that push you to be someone other than the one you want.
- Examples of this are friendships based on alcohol abuse, infidelity, excessive partying, or compulsive shopping. If your bond is based on behavior that you want to change, you may need to end the relationship to ensure a better future.
- In some cases, friendships are created in times of common crisis, for example two people who bond because they both have marital problems. If one of the two solves its problems and the other does not, the common elements may fail.
Method 2 of 3: Formally Ending Friendship
Step 1. Communicate your motives
You should think long and hard about why you want to end a friendship. Before talking to the other person, you should understand for yourself why you no longer want to be friends with them.
- Try to be very clear. It is important not to leave doubts. However, there is no need to remember every single problem or negative detail from the past. But if you don't explain yourself well (and firmly), the person may continue to try to have a relationship with you. Be prepared with specific reasons.
- If a friend has really done something that deserves the removal, or if your paths have simply gone too far, they deserve to know. Try to communicate this in a kind way. Instead of saying "You are interested in superficial things while I have developed interests in more intellectual topics", you can say "As we grow up, we have less in common". In other words, take a positive view of your explanation.
- Be honest with the other person and with yourself. Is there a hidden reason that really bothers you but you don't want to admit?
Step 2. Do it in person
Explaining the reasons for a breakup in person is one way to make the breakup less painful. Ask the friend you want to leave for a coffee together. Ending a friendship by text or email causes the worst reaction.
- Be aware that your friend may try to negotiate with you to save the relationship. If you're not going to give in, be absolutely firm in the conversation.
- Begin the sentences by explaining how you feel instead of berating your friend for what he did. That way the conversation won't feel like an attack on him. You can say, "I feel my life is moving in a different direction, the best for me."
- This meeting doesn't have to last long. Your friend will likely get angry or try to change your mind. The best approach is to communicate your motives, affirm your will, and finally say that you must go in a respectful and polite way.
Step 3. Do it with compassion
Ending a friendship certainly causes negative feelings in the other person, such as suffering, confusion, and anger. Whatever your problems with her are, you should consider this fact, showing empathy and kindness.
- Don't talk bad about your old friend before ending the friendship. The problems you have with that person aren't about anyone else, and spreading gossip is never nice.
- Show compassion and patience. Let your friend explain how he feels and acknowledge that his feelings are hurt. Explain in turn that you are sorry to make him feel bad; this can help you a lot.
- Find a way to allow your friend to keep their dignity. Instead of saying "I don't want to be your friend anymore", you can say "I can't be the friend you want". This is an admission of responsibility and allows the other person to more easily accept your decision.
- Try to avoid blaming him. It's not necessary and your confrontation will get worse (unless you have serious cheating; in that case it's probably a good idea to explain how you feel). If a friend has just started annoying you or you don't find him interesting anymore, why hurt him by telling him?
Step 4. Recognize the positive and negative sides of the formal approach
All methods of ending a friendship have pros and cons. This is not something simple to do. This also applies to the formal method.
- This method can be unpleasant and embarrassing. There will certainly be negative feelings in your encounter and this will likely scare you.
- However, if you've known a person for a long time, this is the best approach. You're basically giving her the courtesy of a formal breakup. If it is a friend who is not very close or you know recently, this path is not as suitable.
- This approach is what allows you to end a friendship more quickly. It allows you to clearly explain how you feel and is more respectful of your friend in the long run, even if he won't understand it at the moment.
Step 5. Choose the right occasion and situation
Your meeting is more likely to fail if you don't choose the right time. Timing is everything.
- It is not a good idea to call your friend when he is at work, at a public event, or when he is going through a crisis.
- The most suitable place is in public, such as in a restaurant or bar. In that situation, your friend may express his displeasure, but will likely avoid the worst reactions, such as yelling or crying.
Method 3 of 3: End a Friendship Slowly
Step 1. Let the relationship fade
One way to end a friendship is to let it wane instead of severing it with an emotional encounter. Over time, it will simply seem that the relationship has come to its natural end.
- Contact the person less and less. For example, if you talked four times a week, start talking only once every seven days.
- In some cases, people who use this method maintain relationships with their friend on social media, but contact them much less. In practice, it is a way to lower the degree of intimacy of a relationship without resorting to a confrontation full of negative emotions.
- You can suggest a period of less contact with the hope that the other person will develop new relationships and start moving away from you spontaneously.
- Don't be available when he wants to meet you. After making up enough excuses, your friend may start asking other people out, spontaneously limiting your relationship.
Step 2. Don't feel guilty
It is common for people to change their friendships over the course of their lives and to face different times when their interests vary.
- If a former friend has really done something serious to you, such as blatant betrayal, you are asserting your rights by ending your relationship. You shouldn't feel guilty when you stand up for yourself or eliminate negative influences from your life.
- For example, people you had a lot in common with in college may no longer be your best friend if your life takes a different direction than theirs in regards to family or career.
Step 3. Recognize the pros and cons of passive rejection
This is the term for friendships that you let fade away on their own. It means that you avoid direct confrontation with the person you are rejecting.
- One of the benefits of this type of rejection is that it can minimize feelings of anger, because the rejected person may not be aware of what is happening and there is never a confrontation where negative words are exchanged.
- One of the downsides to this type of rejection is that it takes a long time and a certain dishonesty. You don't honestly tell the other person what you are doing.
- This approach may not work with close friends you have known for a long time. They will sense the change significantly and will likely point it out to you.
Step 4. Don't disappear
In friendships as well as in romantic relationships, avoid vanishing completely from the other person's life and suddenly stop talking to them without explanation.
- This is cruel behavior towards your former friend. He will spend weeks wondering what he did wrong and will probably search for you to ask for explanations. As a result, this approach will not lead the other person to stop texting to you, but will actually lead them to do more.
- Disappearing doesn't give the other person a chance to end the relationship. It is never a good idea to end a friendship by making the other person feel bad. Plus, without a breakup, the former friend will never be convinced that the relationship is completely over.
- Disappear has been called the "definitive silence treatment". It is not an honest account of what was wrong with the friendship and consequently prevents the other person from growing. If the former friend has done something that has ruined your relationship, communicating it allows him to work on himself and improve for future relationships.
- Be sincere and honest with your friends. It will help them a lot.
- The other person may say phrases that hurt you, but whatever you decide to do, try to stay calm, be respectful and polite. Don't let yourself be instigated.
- Try not to involve many people in the end of the friendship. It's something about you and your friend; there is no need to bring up others.