Wondering how to end a friendship? You’re not alone.
We’re all about thriving in life here on Life as a Dare, and that includes in our friendships. But not all friendships are thriving. Sometimes, though, even when we know a friendship is bad for us, it’s really hard to let go.
But I think it’s very important to be able to let go. Here’s the thing: we’re living in a very connected age. Everyone’s on multiple social media sites, we’ve all got cell phones with us 24/7, and it’s just a cultural norm to be keeping tabs on what everyone we’ve ever met is up to these days. There’s no escaping people anymore!
When our parents were kids, if you moved to a different city for college, you just kind of accepted that your friendship was going to fade. All you had to keep in touch was phone calls with obscene long-distance charges and snail mail. Which wasn’t even called snail mail back then–it was just mail.
But now, there’s no natural end point for any relationship. You’ve always got facebook, skype, or texting to keep in touch. So where we used to be able to just naturally accept when a friendship was coming to a close, now there’s pressure to put a lot of time and energy into keeping up with people that was never there before.
There are a lot of really good reasons to let a friendship end. I actually did a video on it this week, where I talked about when you should end a friendship:
So now that we talked about the why, I want to give you the how!
1. Let it fade away naturally
If you’re friends with someone who is just clingy or emotionally draining to be around, and you’re not really interested in keeping the friendship going at all, just let it fade away.
I cannot tell you how many times people have come to me saying, “I really can’t keep this friendship up,” but then they go and initiate more contact with the person! They text them, send the friend notes, or invite them to birthday parties because they feel guilty about not wanting to be friends anymore. They don’t want to be mean! But not wanting to be friends doesn’t mean you don’t think they’re a good person–we’re supposed to love everyone, yes, but we’re not supposed to give all of our time to everyone.
So stop making the first move with people who you know really aren’t healthy for you. Stop letting your guilt perpetuate a friendship that isn’t healthy. Stop texting first, and stop setting up times to hang out. Not all friendships need a huge confrontation to end. Often you can just let it naturally fade away.
2. Create boundaries for that friend
If your friendship is one that is emotionally draining but you still want to stay friends with them, just with a bit of space, figure out how much space you need. Can you have coffee with them once a month? What about skyping every other week? Figure out what you’re able to handle without compromising your mental health.
The problem is often that we feel so guilty about not being there for someone else that we’re not able to be there for ourselves. Yes, it’s important to be supportive. But if a friendship is draining because the person is really emotionally needy, you’re just enabling that by sticking around and giving them all your time.
Figure out just how much you can handle. Then stick with that! If they keep texting you and asking to hang out, just say that you have too much on your plate right now, but you’d love to go for coffee in two weeks (or whenever you’ve decided you’re able to see them next). The thing is, you actually need to stick with it. And if they ask why you’re so distant, just tell them the truth–you’re really overwhelmed and can only spare a little bit of time for them.
3. Distance yourself from them
If you can’t trust the person or if they’re a negative influence in your life, take measures to make sure that you distance yourself from them. Maybe that means limiting your time with a certain friend group, or removing them off of your social media sites (or at least unfollowing them on Facebook if you don’t want to unfriend them). If this is someone who is actively making your life more difficult, you need to remove yourself from that situation.
Sometimes this is really hard to do. But even if it means not hanging out with a certain friend group anymore, you need to take the initiative and make the hard call to make your well-being a priority. Yes, it’s hard. But yes, it’s sometimes necessary. Be willing to do what’s necessary.
4. Invest heavily in the friendships you want to maintain
It can be kind of depressing watching a friendship end. So practice gratitude, and really invest in the friendships that you want to maintain. Take the effort you were putting into your unhealthy friendships and give it to the people who truly matter to you.
It’s important not to become a hermit without any friends, so if you’re finding that many of your friendships are falling apart, make a real effort to get involved in community. We aren’t meant to be alone! So have fun and invest your time and energy in your true friendships.
5. Confront them
Of course, if nothing else works or this is a serious situation where you need to deal with an issue face-to-face, confront your friend. When you confront them, though, make sure you do so in a peaceful and gracious way. Don’t go in ready to tear them a new one–that isn’t going to help anything. Instead, explain with kindness that you’ve appreciated their friendship, and that you think very highly of them as a person, but you simply (a) do not have the time to continue the friendship the way it was going, (b) cannot trust them anymore after what they did, or (c) you have been finding it hard to be true to your beliefs while spending so much time with them. But whenever you confront someone, make it about you, not about them. Say how YOU do not have time, not “you’re too clingy and you take too much time.” It’s a lot less accusatorial, and it’s more mature to take some responsibility yourself than to push it all on the other person.
Ending a friendship can be messy. And figuring out how to end a friendship can be stressful, since you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So I hope that this video and this blog post have helped you!
Have you ever had to end a friendship before? How did you do it? Let’s chat about it in the comments!
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