How To End A Friendship Amicably

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Strong and supportive friendships can be an important part of life. However, holding onto friendships that have become difficult or even toxic can cause harm to your mental health. With that said, ending friendships can be difficult and painful. In general, it can be best to communicate honestly while focusing on your own emotions, rather than your friend’s potential flaws or missteps. You may wish to give them a phone call or write them a letter if you’re feeling apprehensive about having this conversation in person. After you’ve ended the friendship, it’s often ideal to maintain distance from your former friend and reach out to a licensed mental health professional for support.

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Are you finding it difficult to end a friendship?

When is it time to end a friendship?

From an outsider’s perspective, it’s often easy to spot a toxic friendship. However, it can be more difficult to see these changes when you are one of the people involved in the relationship.

While many people recognize the harm a toxic romantic relationship can cause, it can be important to recognize that platonic relationships can also cause harm. Unlike romantic relationships, friendships dissolve or gradually fade out without drama frequently. However, in the same way as you might end a romantic relationship, it’s best to consider the other person’s feelings even if you feel they’ve done something wrong. 

If you find your friendship is not meeting the standards for a healthy friendship, you may find the relationship straining.

Here are some signs that may indicate it is time to end your friendship:

  • They get jealous when you spend time with other friends.

  • Interacting with your friend leaves you exhausted, upset, or frustrated.

  • They insult your interests, goals, and/or choices, potentially leading to a decrease in your self-confidence and feeling sad.

  • They always choose how you spend time together and are not open to your opinions.

  • You find you cannot be your true self around them.

  • They make you feel guilty when you cannot spend time with them, such as telling you that they feel neglected.

  • They do not respect your boundaries and text or call you more than you have expressed you would like.

  • You feel unsafe around the person or you fear for your family around them.*

Experiencing one of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean you need to end your friendship. It can mean that you need to honestly communicate your thoughts and desires with your friend. If you find your friendship has not changed after an honest conversation, it may be time to end the relationship.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

How to end a friendship

Whether your friendship is frustrating, boring, or disrespectful, taking precise steps can make ending the friendship as easy as possible. While the “breaking up” process can be difficult, you may find that you feel better on the other side if your actions align with your beliefs and morals. However, if you act out of anger and rage, you may find yourself regretting your actions later.

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Communicate honestly and effectively

If you know why you need to end your friendship, it can be best to communicate with your friend honestly and transparently. You might let your friend know you would like to meet and have a conversation about your friendship so they are not blindsided.

When you talk, the aim may be to honestly express your feelings. However, this generally doesn't mean degrading the other party or belittling their character or personal traits.

We’ll look at an example for further clarification. Let’s say you feel like your friend is no longer taking your interests and thoughts into account, and they only spend time with you when it is convenient for them. Rather than pointing the finger and calling them “selfish, rude, and inconsiderate,” you could say, “I feel like I am not able to fully express my interests around you, and I’m finding it difficult to connect when you don’t respond to my requests to spend time together”.

By framing your thoughts around statements like “I feel,” you can move the conversation toward your thoughts and feelings rather than your friend’s potential flaws.

With this said, it can be important to realize that even if you are polite and tactful, the conversation may not be happy and carefree. Depending on the nature of the friendship, the other individual may be secretly harboring similar feelings that they are hesitant to express, or they could be shocked and angry when you express your feelings.

If you feel like your friend may become angry or violent, it’s usually best to meet in a public place or have a conversation over the phone.

Consider writing a letter

If you are worried your friend will become violent or that you won’t be able to express your true feelings face-to-face, you may want to consider writing a letter. Some individuals find that it can be easier to write rather than speak their thoughts. If you decide to send a letter, you can choose whether you want to meet with your friend to discuss your thoughts and obtain closure on the relationship.

Notify mutual friends 

When you go through a friend breakup, it's considerate to explain the matter to any mutual friends so you can maintain healthy relationships with them. This can help to avoid any sense of awkwardness or confusion. 

Either discuss it with each person directly or discuss thoughts in a respectful, brief message. Instead of talking about the negative impact the person you’ve ended the friendship with may have had, it’s often best to focus on your own feelings and explain that you feel bad for any way this action impacts the lives of mutual friends. 

Remember to reassure them that your decision doesn't mean you want them to stop spending time with the person. Instead, offer to maintain open communication for any questions or concerns they might have as your friendship ends with this person.

Former friends: Steps to take after ending the friendship

After you end a friendship, it’s normally best to distance yourself from this person. This distance may help create closure for both individuals.

Even if you ended a friendship on amicable terms, you may feel guilty or worried about your former friend’s feelings. These feelings can be valid and do not necessarily mean you should re-engage in the friendship. However, just because your friendship is not right at this moment, it doesn’t mean you can’t return to it later.

If you think you just need a break from your friendship, you can speak with your friend to decide on an established check-in date. At this date, you can resume contact and see if you would like to continue the friendship.

Understand the adverse impacts of toxic friendships on mental health

While it’s often difficult to end unhealthy friendships, the effects of not ending them may be even more difficult. Adverse and stressful relationships have been linked to poorer health when other factors were taken into account. Prolonged stress can also cause issues, including headaches, shortness of breath, and increased heart rate.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Ending a friendship can be a difficult, intimidating, and scary process. However, you don’t necessarily have to complete these actions alone.

If you need help determining whether to end the friendship or are seeking support to end the friendship, connecting with a therapist may help. If you decide that you would like to end the friendship, a therapist can support you during and after the process.

As mentioned above, it’s often natural to feel a combination of guilt, doubt, grief, and relief after ending the friendship. You may also feel that you don’t desire healthy relationships, or that your friend is right. Forming a relationship with a therapist may help you improve your self-esteem and develop supportive friendships. However, connecting with a therapist in person may be intimidating or difficult to fit into your schedule. If that’s the case for you, online therapy may be a more convenient option.

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Are you finding it difficult to end a friendship?

Research has suggested that online therapy can be just as effective as traditional therapy when it comes to treating conditions like depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorder. This suggests that online therapy could be just as effective as in-person therapy for improving feelings of guilt and low confidence that may come with ending a friendship.

Takeaway

While healthy friendships are often an important part of life, sometimes friendships can become distant or unhealthy. If a platonic relationship is negatively impacting your mental health, it may be time to end the friendship. Remember to be honest and upfront with your feelings, and don’t be afraid to ask for help in navigating this transition. An online therapist can be a valuable resource as you move through this process.
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