How To End A Friendship Amicably
Updated December 17, 2018
Reviewer Laura Angers
In a perfect world, friendships would never come to an end. However, the world is far from perfect. There are many cases when ending a friendship is not only appropriate, but paramount for the sake of one's mental health, safety, and wellbeing. The longer the friendship, the more challenging it can be to end it. Yet, at the end of the day, if a friendship has become unhealthy or toxic, terminating it and moving forward is almost always the best course of action.
Although most people instinctively know when a friendship has become toxic, there are usually a series of warning signs and changes. Acknowledging these signs and taking the appropriate steps forward should be the next course of action upon discovering the toxicity of a friendship. According to Lifehack, some of the strongest indicators of an unhealthy friendship are as follows: intensive focus on negativity, lack of mutual care/respect, quickness to anger, lack of attempts to keep in touch, only talking about oneself, lack of happiness regarding success/accomplishments, and indifference towards feelings.
Even when someone knows that friendship has become unhealthy for their well-being, ending the friendship amicably can be a difficult feat. However, the following methods should prove helpful to individuals who are struggling to sever ties on a positive note.
Communicate Honestly And Effectively
According to Bustle, one of the most amicable ways to terminate a friendship is to communicate honestly and effectively. Someone who feels as though they have grown apart from their soon-to-be former friend should express this and make sure the other party is aware. This doesn't mean denigrating the party or belittling their character or personal traits. However, honest and effective communication does entail self-expression.
The reality is that no matter how amicable or polite someone is while ending a friendship, the conversation is unlikely to be happy and carefree. Depending on the nature of the friendship, the other individual may be secretly harboring similar feelings, yet fearful of expressing them. In this particular circumstance, a mutual decision to part ways may occur, but chances are, the other person may be shocked or even hurt. This should be expected.
"I feel as though we've grown apart," "I don't feel as though our friendship is healthy," and "I would like us to have some time apart from each other" are examples of truthful and specific ways to end a friendship. People who are ending friendships should generally abstain from accusatory statements, such as "you never listen to me," "you're so negative," and "you're bringing me down." Even if an individual does feel this way, vocalizing these feelings in this matter is very likely to place the other person in a defensive mode. Amicable interactions are very difficult, if not downright impossible when one or both parties feel as though they are under attack.
Gradually Cease Communication
Many individuals would question whether or not gradually ending communication with a friend is an amicable manner of terminating a friendship. However, there are certain situations where this method is not only friendly but also appropriate. There are different ways to get messages around. Sometimes sitting down with a friend and telling them that it's time to part ways is the best way of ending the relationship. In other cases, a softer and less direct form of communication can effectively end a friendship.
Ultimately, the individual who decides to end the friendship will have to determine whether or not they believe that gradually ceasing communication is appropriate. Different people have different personalities. Different personalities react to various actions and behaviors. Some friends will be able to get the hint, while others will require a more direct approach.
End The Friendship In Writing
Similarly to gradually ceasing communication, ending a friendship in writing is a method which not everyone would view as amicable. However, the decision once again rests with the person who has decided to terminate the relationship. In most cases, people tend to have an idea of the character of a friend. As such, they have somewhat of an idea regarding the other party's reaction to an ending friendship. Some people will take it well while others will not.
Not everyone is comfortable with ending a friendship face to face. Some people may feel better about communicating via email, text message, or even directly via social media. Not everyone will agree with the methods above of communication, but it's a decision that each has to make. If someone's gut tells them to end a friendship in writing, as opposed to in person, that instinct should be followed.
After Ending The Friendship
Even after ending a friendship on amicable terms, some people may feel bad or worry about the feelings or thoughts of their former friend. Yet, each person is responsible for themselves. That comes first and foremost. Moreover, relationships and friendships should be enriching, uplifting, and positive. They shouldn't be draining, stressful, or toxic. Genuinely feeling as though a friendship should be terminated in and of itself is a warning sign.
Understand The Adverse Impacts Of Toxic Friendships
Not everyone ends unhealthy friendships even when they know they should. The associated reasons vary based upon the involved individuals and dynamics of the relationship. Some people may feel as though they are gaining something from the friendship, despite its toxicity. Others may worry about the social consequences of terminating a friendship. Individuals who suffer from low self-esteem are likelier to continue engaging in unhealthy friendships; they may fear to be alone or feel undeserving of healthy and rewarding relationships.
The adverse impacts of toxic friendships are well documented. According to Psychology Today, individuals who subject themselves to these unhealthy alliances are likelier to experience anxiety, depression, weakened immune systems, digestive ailments, high blood pressure, stress, and more. However, unfavorable consequences of toxic friendships are not merely limited to physical trauma. Healthy Place explains that one's self-esteem eventually becomes the casualty of a toxic friendship that lasts for too long.
Every individual is impacted and influenced by the company they keep. While positive friends tend to encourage and uplift us, their negative counterparts are discouraging and draining. Toxic people are also more likely to engage in risky or even criminal behavior. This can have lifelong and tragic consequences under the right circumstances. The temporary discomfort of terminating a toxic friendship is almost always better than the physical, emotional, psychological, and even legal aftermath that can happen by not ending the relationship.
Know When To Notify The Proper Authorities
Despite one's best intentions, ending friendships, even in the most amicable manner, does not always go over well. Sometimes, we don't know people until we witness their conduct during anger. Certain people may lash out when someone decides to end a friendship with them. Lashing out can occur in various forms, such as social media harassment, spreading rumors, gossiping with others, etc. In the event of this occurrence, documenting all forms of harassment and subsequently blocking the former friend's online profiles is advised. Documentation comes in handy if the harassment continues and it becomes time to notify authorities.
Of course, if someone issues threats or physical attacks, notifying law enforcement is paramount. No matter how long the friendship lasted, the behaviors above are not normal or appropriate reactions to someone who chooses to sever ties. Individuals who are subjected to this manner of treatment should not engage or attempt to calm the friend down. Preserving and maintaining one's safety is critical.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Seeking out help when attempting to end a friendship amicably is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Getting an outside opinion from another person can be helpful and enlightening. Each situation and friendship is different and therefore requires different solutions. What works for terminating one friendship will not necessarily be effective for ending another. The ability to make a wise, well-informed, and thought-out decision always matters.
A Final Word
No matter how smoothly things go, ending a friendship is never easy. It can be just as challenging for the individual who decides to sever ties as it is for the person on the receiving end of the decision. Speaking with relatives, other friends, or even a counselor/therapist about the matter can be particularly helpful.
Unfortunately, seeking out professional help is something which many individuals still struggle with. Some believe that doing so is indicative of weakness, while others genuinely believe that they can handle matters on their own without the involvement of outside people. However, this does not change the reality that no individual can do everything by themselves. At one point or another, every person will require some form of outside input or guidance….and there's nothing wrong with that.
Here at BetterHelp, we pride ourselves on providing world-class advice and guidance to everyone who reaches out to us. Whether ending a friendship, overcoming an obstacle, or going through something else, BetterHelp will always be available as a resource and option. You can contact us at any time by clicking here.