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How to Break Up With a Friend

Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Friend Breakup

Breaking up is hard to do, but at least we have lots of examples to follow, not to mention breakup songs, movies, and clichés ("it's not you, it's me"). Researchers at Manchester University say friend breakups are harder: not only do women feel guilty about cutting ties with friends, but these breakups lack the cultural norms, patterns, and expectations that come with breaking up with a mate.

Before you decide to end a friendship once and for all, take some time to ask yourself these questions.

If you're fighting . . .

  • Is this worth ending the friendship over? On this season's The Real Housewives of New York City, Bethenny and Jill seem poised to end their friendship over a few petty points — e.g., Bethenny telling Jill she needs to "get a hobby." Ask if your fight is a symptom of a larger problem or something you can move past.
  • Do I want to make up? If the fight seems surmountable, arrange a time to meet in person and talk once the initial ugliness has died down. Be honest about what made you angry or hurt your feelings; it will make things much easier if the friendship survives.
  • Is it a symptom of a bigger issue? A fight that seems petty on the surface could be a symptom that you're growing apart or in an unhealthy relationship.

For more questions to ask yourself,


If you feel you're growing apart . . .

  • What would I lose if I gave up this friendship? Evaluate your life and what you and your friend both get from the friendship, as well as why you became friends in the first place. If neither of you seems to be getting much from the relationship, there is nothing wrong with deciding it's time to move on.
  • Can I gradually pull away? If you think you're growing apart, your friend may feel the same way. Try slowly distancing yourself, stop initiating phone calls, and see if the friendship ends organically.
  • Do we really just need a break? If you and your friend are getting on each others' nerves but aren't sure whether the friendship is worth giving up on, try taking a break and seeing how it feels without that friend in your life.
  • Is this relationship unhealthy? Just as a romantic relationship can be unhealthy, a friendship can be toxic if your friend is untrustworthy, manipulative, or making you feel worse, not better, the majority of the time. Dare I say, you can even make a list of why you want to end the friendship; it may offer some perspective on whether the relationship is unhealthy or if you are overreacting.

Have you ever broken up with a friend? How did you handle it?

Photo Courtesy of Bravo

totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I remember when I break up with my best friend. We were friends all through high school. I use to tell her everything, but I then started to realize that our friendship was more about her than us. The thing that made me want to break our friendship for good was when she PROHIBITED me to talk to this guy I was talking to, she even got her sister involve. After that, things weren't the same. I'm very glad I'm done with that friendship, but we ended things in good terms though.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I just broke up with a friend about three weeks ago. She was the typical toxic type - manipulative of people's emotions, overly dramatic even when things were going well, talked about people behind their backs, competitive, and a huge fan of little remarks that made me you feel like something she'd scraped off of her shoe. She also had anger issues and wouldn't acknowledge her own flaws at the same time that she was psychoanalyzing someone else's. So after the latest rude comment, I tried to pull away from her subtly, which led to accusations that I was passive aggressive, mean, and a terrible friend. So I just ended it, flat out. It sucks in some ways because I know there are mutual friends I will miss out on because she is incapable of behaving civilly to preserve harmony at a mutual event, but the overall feeling was one of intense relief, like, "wow, finally, I don't have to walk on glass around this person just to avoid another blow-up." My life is immeasurably better without her, but it took me a while to get to a place where I could say that I was ready to give up on five years of close friendship.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
I agree this can be a tough decision to make if you're trying to be proactive about it. I've had a couple of friendships end organically but in those instances it's never really over at least for me because on the rare occasion (once/twice a year) we bump into each other we're genuinely happy to see each other and have a nice chat even though we don't hang out anymore on a regular basis and talk it up on the phone every week. I wouldn't call it a breakup because there was no heated exchange that climaxed the separation but very recently I chose to sever ties with a close friend. Not because I didn't care about him or he me but put simply his personal drama began to effect our friendship in a negative way and it was something I chose not to deal with anymore because it was ridiculous. In a broader perspective I will never understand people who allow forces that they hold no obligation to to come into their lives and use them then complain about it when they're the one's that allow it to continue. I'm not trying to play that game or listen to someone whine about it and play the victim. I just don't have time for that mess and when you endure it for nearly three years it's time to step back and say I've had enough. Now having said that the door is always open I do still care about him and if he gets his $hit together I will be happy to welcome him back into my life but the self imposed mellow drama has to stop.
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