How to Break with a Friend

by | Oct 18, 2017

When a friendship causes you more pain than joy, when it drains you of energy instead of enhancing your life, then consider what you are doing. If it’s just a temporary rough spot, and all relationships have them, then hang in there. But if you are still in a relationship because you hate conflict and don’t want to face confronting your friend, you have to think about ending it. But how? Breaking up with a friend is just as difficult as breaking up a romantic relationship.

It’s best to consider carefully how you will do it. You don’t want to over plan or you’ll sound phony. But you don’t want to wing it because you could say something you’ll later regret. The key is to take the high road and be as kind as you can be while still being firm. Here are some guidelines that may help:

How To Break With A Friend Nancy'S Counseling Corner

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    Do it in person. Texting, messaging, emailing—usually these are the coward’s way out. If your relationship is primarily through texts and you can’t get together personally, then it may be suitable to end it by text. But usually, it’s best to be face to face. You pick the time and place—somewhere where you can have an intimate conversation without interruption.

    Quit making excuses. If you are always too busy to spend time with this friend and you keep putting him off, you only delay the inevitable. Your friend may think you really are too busy and that it’s just temporary, all the while waiting for your relationship to get back on track. Meanwhile, you make it worse when you finally do get together. Once you know you need to end it, face facts and do it.

     Just fade away. This works well when both parties realize there’s no sense in being close anymore. You don’t have to formally end things because you’re both on the same page. You just don’t see each other very often and when you do, you can still be cordial.

     Make it all about you. You have changed, you have moved on, you have new interests. Say it in a nice way: “I really value the time we’ve had together, but I feel I’m going in a different direction. I just can’t devote the time to our relationship like I used to.” Not, “You suck the energy out of me and I just can’t take it anymore.”

     Think twice before saying why. You’re itching to tell her what a jerk she is, but really, is it worth it? Ask yourself if you’re just doing it to vent, in which case it might help you temporarily, but not her. And there’s a good chance you’ll regret your rant later. If you are calling things off because she is selfish and self-centered, she won’t hear you anyway.

It pays to be considerate no matter what. But if the relationship is abusive you shouldn’t hesitate to get out of it, and fast. When a friend turns out to be toxic, you can say so in no uncertain terms. The important thing is to protect yourself and your well-being.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here:



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