1. People & Relationships

How to Break Up With a Friend

Ending a Friendship

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One friend breaking up with another.

One friend breaking up with another.

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Ending a friendship is a difficult thing to do and many wonder how to accomplish it without hurting their friend's feelings (or causing too much drama). Should you just stop calling your pal? Slowly pull away from them?

You want to move on from your relationship but you don't want to be intentionally cruel to someone you once called a friend. Here are some tips on how to break up with your pal the right way.

Make Sure Your Friend Understands Why You Are Ending the Relationship

Before you put an end to your friendship, make sure you talk through the issues. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people simply break up rather than confront their friend. Telling someone you're unhappy with them is never easy, but do you really want to lose a friend when you could work out a solution instead? More than that, sometimes friendships actually become stronger after a frank discussion.

Address the Issues

If you talked with your friend in the past about how you felt, this will be an easy discussion. Refer to the time(s) you brought the issue up, and any resolution you two might have agreed on. (For example, "Do you remember last year when I asked you to not make comments behind my back to Sally? You said you would try to stop, but I just heard two more today.")

When you bring up the issue, give your friend a chance to explain. There may be a misunderstanding that you didn't realize existed.

If, however, you haven't yet addressed the issues with your friend, you have a decision to make. Do you really want to end your friendship then? Or are you just angry? Take some time to cool off so you can approach your friend in an assertive way that doesn't accuse.

Ending a Friendship Through Email

Ideally, you should never have any kind of break up through email, but the reality is that many people do. Sometimes it is simply impossible to talk things out with a friend. When your friend won't listen, you can send an email to break up. Some things to keep in mind, however:

  • Make the email short and to the point. Don't pour out your heart because your friend will feel bombarded.
  • Don't initiate an email fight. Sending nasty emails back and forth will only leave you both feeling horrible about your friendship.
  • Emphasize the reason you feel you need to end the friendship, what you appreciated about your friend, and that you wish them the best.
  • Focus on specific events and how they made you feel, rather than assuming why your friend did the things they did.

Breaking Up in Person

Depending on the length and closeness of your friendship, you may want to break up in person. This is especially important if your friend has been dear to you in the past. Think of it this way, giving positive energy to the end of your friendship will help you find a new one that much easier and without baggage like anger and resentment. If you end things positively, you'll be better able to get closure on the loss of your friendship.

To initiate the break up, sit down at a convenient time for both of you and talk about the past issues which have lead you to the current situation. Even though you are ending your relationship, keep your discussion healthy. It doesn't pay to name call or be nasty.

Let Your Friend Know It Is Over

Be sure to make your break up intentions clear to your friend, or they may walk away with the impression that you're still friends. After you talk about the issues that have made your friendship unravel, let them know this is the end. Say something like:

  • "Based on the things we've talked about, I can no longer continue with our friendship. It makes me sad to say goodbye to you, but I feel our friendship has changed quite a lot and we aren't close anymore."
  • "I will remember the great times we have had, and I wish you the best. I will always care about you as a friend but we can no longer hang out together."

Allow Your Friend to Process the Break Up

Your friend may be in denial that your relationship is ending, so give them some time to process everything. They may have questions or want clarification on what they did wrong, so be sure to be patient and understanding. Ending a friendship in a calm manner is no small task! But in the long run you'll be happier you did it that way.

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