Ending a Friendship

Is it Time to End a Friendship?

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a relationship comes to an end. There are obvious breaks - as when trust has been betrayed - and less clear endings, when the connection simply dies out over time. Should you ever definitively call it quits? Only you can answer that question.

There are so many factors that go into the decision.... your history with the other person, your relationships with other people with whom both you and your friend share, your personal safety, your mental health, and more!

On the other hand, I believe in forgiveness, as well. Life is too short. And I worry about getting to the end (or not knowing I am at the end) and realizing that I could have, or should have made up with those people with whom I shared so many laughs and hugs many years ago.

When You Might Want To Consider Ending a Relationship

Every relationship differs, as both people bring their unique personality traits, quirks, baggage and special qualities to the dance. That said, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this difficult question. However, there are definitely "deal breakers," that may call for a time-out while one or both sides work on issues to improve things. Perhaps you can reconcile after time? Or, you may decide that it simply is not salvageable.

  1. Repeated lying. If your friend cannot be truthful with you, then how can you trust him or her? Trust is an essential foundation to a healthy relationship.
  2. Substance abuse. A person who abuses drugs or alcohol is not present to give 100% of themselves to you or others. Instead their relationship is with the addictive substance. Before you consider walking away, however, see if you can help your friend get into treatment. While they may be resistant, you can be a true friend by being strong and perhaps showing a bit of tough love. Consult with Al-Anon, or other resources before heading down this path first.
  3. Failure to hold up their side of the friendship. Are you the one making all the calls and arranging all the dates? Have you already talked with your friend about your frustration about the one-sidedness of things? Perhaps it may be worth just walking away and seeking new friends that will be more actively involved with you. No need for a big formal "break up," just take the cue and move on.
  4. Engaging in behaviors of which you don't approve. For example, excessive gossiping, criticism, cheating on his or her spouse, spanking her or his children, etc. Have you tried talking about the disconnect in your values? Maybe you can convince them to change their discipline approach. Show them statistics about the impact of adulterous relationships. Of course, they may not be receptive to what they could perceive to be criticism. At that point, it may be time to find new friends with whom you will feel more comfortable.
  5. The relationship is risky to your health. If your friend is mentally or physically abusive in any way, you definitely need to walk away. Consult a professional to find out the best way to do so without further risk to you, your other friends, family, and the friend with whom you are ending the relationship. Your religious leader may be able to assist, at no cost, and/or can provide resources to help those involved. Long-term therapy may be required. Tread very carefully in this regard.

Nothing like friendship quality time together!
Nothing like friendship quality time together!

A Classic Silly Argument

Calvin & Hobbes - Friends Forever
Calvin & Hobbes - Friends Forever

When You Might Be Able to Save the Friendship

If your situation does not fit in the categories above, then maybe you can salvage things, and try again. Take a break (the length is up to you and your friend) and then try a coffee date to see if you can make amends, particularly if one of the following was the cause of the rift:

  1. The Green-eyed Monster. Did another friend enter the picture? Did one of you have a baby when the other one did not? Marriage? Promotion? Losing weight? You name it, feelings of jealousy may arise. Perhaps a little time is necessary to sort things out. It is difficult sometimes to get all of our needs met, particularly when there are many competing ideas, feelings, issues, and stories in the mix. This is a two-sided problem that will require both of you to acknowledge your part in a fix.
  2. Long-distance. Its hard on platonic friendships, just as with romantic relationships. When a friend moves away, both will have to decide how hard to work to keep the relationship alive. Hurt feelings may arise when emails don't come as often, or when the friend comes to visit and spends time with someone else. Issues can be worked out, however. Keep communication lines open and honest. Don't tell her, "Its OK," if you truly feel sad. Over time, you will both re-adjust to the new boundaries and a friendship can continue!
  3. A simple misunderstanding or argument. It happens to the best of us! Miscommunications occur over email (you really can't convey true emotions with simple text on a page), and over the phone. Even best friends can get into arguments over silly, inconsequential matters such as dates for a birthday party, who brought snacks to the last scout meeting, or whose dog went #2 on the parking strip area (and who didn't clean it up!)

It's Great to Have Friends

Who Answers the Question Above?

It depends. Sometimes you both do. On the other hand, the situation might require that you end things, sadly, particularly if you find yourself facing one of the first five issues above. But, you might be fortunate enough to rediscover a changed friend, years from now, when you both may be ready to try again at spending time together!

Until that time, take a deep breath, and be thankful for the pals that you have.

© 2008 Stephanie Hicks

More by this Author


Comments 43 comments

barbrya 8 years ago

Nice hub! Whereas i was trying to help her end it you were trying to help her rethink if it is necessary, seems like i have a ways to go :P


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

I think that both of our Hubs are useful in different ways. That's what is great about HubPages! BTW, I was rethinking my approach after seeing yours... LOL


Kathryn Vercillo profile image

Kathryn Vercillo 8 years ago from San Francisco

Great hub! It's always difficult to determine that it's time to let go of our relationships - whether romantic or otherwise - and it really helps to try and gain that outside perspective when you're assessing the situation. I imagine this could be really useful information to people dealing with a friend break-up.


John Chancellor profile image

John Chancellor 8 years ago from Tennessee

All your points are very good. I would like to add another suggestion for thought. Your friends have a huge influence on what you accomplish in life. Ask yourself this question: "Are my friends helping me move up in life or are they keeping me down?"

In order to add more and better things to your life, you often need to get rid of some of the less positive things in your life. If your friends are not challenging you to be a better person, to learn and grow, to be more tolerant, to be a better person, you probably should seek out friends that will.

If you are intent on self-growth, being a better person, making the world a little better and your friends are not willing to grow with you, you need to give some serious thought to the value of that friendship.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks for your comments and added perspective Kathryn and John! You know, I think its really great advice to think about the question of whether your friend is helping you flourish as a person, or not. Some friends keep us stuck in bad ways, bad behaviors, even bad relationships! Great advice. Thanks so much!


prems4u profile image

prems4u 8 years ago from KERALA Cochin

Chilldhood Friendship never ends....

Others are just a relationship...

I agree with John Chancellor points..


lady luck profile image

lady luck 8 years ago from Boston

great, thorough hub, more people need to evaluate the types of people they let into their lives. I think this is the best article i've ever read on ending relationships... in fact, I'm going to DIGG it right now and hopefully more people will read this!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

My friends from high school were the best and truest ones, and I have found myself returning to those friendships in full force. Friendships I formed with people in college did not seem to last the test of time. I have one friend from college, but we only talk occasionally. My childhood friends have stood the test of time.


dsasser profile image

dsasser 8 years ago from US

ibteresting hub, thanks


Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa

Steph - thanks so much for this answer. Your perspectives are valued deeply. I have had to end a few friendships over the past few years, and it's new territory to me - but some of the reasons that weighed in on my decisions are things you did list above.


evemurphy profile image

evemurphy 8 years ago from Ottawa

Good tips and suggestions here. I also like your cartoon with the two little creatures and the umbrella. It is so hard to end relationships for people who are willing to trust to the end of the earth and then find out they were being taken for a ride....like me sometimes. :< Thanks for the info!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you! Kat, I am so glad to help answer your request! Lady Luck - what a compliment! I really appreciate it! Sweetie Pie, I agree with your observation. Our earliest friends are sometimes the most loyal and longest lasting. Evemurphy - I agree. I can really hurt when your friends betray your trust! I have certainly been there...


helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan

Great hub on such an important topic! It can be so awkward to have to break off a friendship.. even more so than a romantic relationship! I find it's best to try to predict those first, biggest problems you mentioned before the friendship gets too entangling, though obviously that's not always possible.


Blogger Mom profile image

Blogger Mom 8 years ago from Northeast, US

Steph, I've got to tell you, I really like reading your hubs! The topics are always interesting to me and they are well written and thought out!

But back to commenting on this hub - I've got an old friend from college and we're definitely drifting apart. You would think in this age of emailing and instant messaging it would be easier to keep in touch. I'm afraid it happened when I started my family and she had some troubles starting hers - well, it's what I suspect because the distance seemed to grow right about that time. It's never easy to know what's going on in the other person's head without coming right out and asking. I suppose I feel it's easier to just let the relationship fade away slowly without either one of us speaking up? Anyway, thanks for the thought provoking read. =)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Helena and Blogger Mom! This time, the idea was not mine, but answering a request... ;-) Anyway, I did want to write on this because it has affected me personally and I hoped I could help people as well. Blogger Mom, yep, baby issues can definitely interfere in a friendship when one has them and the other doesn't. It's hard to ask. And maybe you don't have to. Do you have time for one last shot at coffee or a shopping date? If not, then perhaps its run its course... All the best - Steph


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Great hub, Steph! I too have had the baby issue interfere with a friendship, but I think we are going to survive it, luckily :) I have intentionally ended a friendship or two over the past couple of years because I just can't stand to be around really negative people, especially when my kids are with me and being influenced by them as well.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Excellent info!!

I spent years thinking i had good friends until i learned the difference between an associate and friend!!

i end friendships when they fail their side of the friendship, like i would bend over backwards to help my friends and when i ask for favours and kindness in returned it was never forth coming!! I am much happier without these so called Friends even it does mean li


penmanzee 8 years ago

Look at all those comments!

Very well thought out and informative. Life afterall is most meaningful when it is built around relationships and I believe every relationship involves some level of friendship. For instance, my wife is really my best friend. So when the dymanics of a relationship changes it's calls for re-evaluation. And you have tackled the subject well. Thanks again Steph.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Amy Jane, Compu-Smart and PenmanZee - you three always have great comments to add to my Hubs! Thank you! This one was a difficult topic to tackle. Amy Jane, I agree, negative people bring me down too. And Compu, yes, there is a huge difference between true friends and associates. PenmanZee, you are a lucky man to have married your best friend! We do need to re-evaluate our relationships from time to time and make sure that we are growing from them, and not withering under their pressure or from a failure to thrive. Cheers all- Steph


Veronica profile image

Veronica 8 years ago from NY

Really well done. I've lost friends to a few of the reasons you covered, especially substance abuse. i just did a blog piece on a friendship I walked away from, so this was especially important for me right now. Thank you.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Veronica - Can you post or email me the blog info? I would really be interested in reading it? Thanks so much! Steph


Veronica profile image

Veronica 8 years ago from NY

Sure, thanks.

www.lonelyroadsandpsychopaths.com

It's the most recent entry: Sunrise.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Found it already - good stuff. Thanks!


Rhym O'Reison profile image

Rhym O'Reison 8 years ago from Crowley, Tx

This is a really nice hub. I'll bet everyone has had to deal with this at least once in their lives. Great suggestions and very well-written.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Friends come and friends go..over the years all our needs change..circumstances change..we move..we have a family..we change jobs..we have illness...deaths...so many things make us drift from certain friends. I have never felt the need to END a friendship..it just sorta takes care of itself...I have friends from 6th grade. from all different stages through out my life. some I am still in contact with..some I am not..and some I will never forget...Take it as it comes..."Don't worry, Be Happy" G-Ma :o) hugs


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Rhym and G-Ma. You are right, G-Ma, it is a very personal thing. I think often it just takes care of itself, while in other circumstances, people feel the need to actually "break up." Thanks for the comments! :-)


truechola_09 8 years ago

U should never end a real good friendship if you do not have too! If you have been that good of friends then there is no reason why you can not just seem to talk it out. If you need any advice on friendships or anything else for that matter im truechola_09 so hit me back up


Jenesis profile image

Jenesis 8 years ago

I love your hub. Wish I had read this 2 years ago, but I had to end a toxic friendship. This will help a lot of people.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Jenesis - thank you!


Panic 39 profile image

Panic 39 8 years ago

A friend is someone you trust so I will never put up with lying I might not cut that person off 100% but they quickly get moved to the acquaintance list!


lori763 profile image

lori763 7 years ago from SWFL

A friend is someone who respects your boundaries too.

Enjoyed this hub:)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

lori, you know, I love it when I learn something from my readers too. I agree 100% that a friend is someone that respects your boundaries. It is something to rembember as a family member too. :) Steph


shrikrishna profile image

shrikrishna 7 years ago

nice hub ,

good stuff ,

pics are ok ,

overall good


live tv 7 years ago

i think you chose very different topic for this hub.

http://www.tv24seven.com


jtboswell profile image

jtboswell 7 years ago

I just ended my friendship with a long time girl friend of mine. I just got tired of her lying to me and always apologizing later only to repeat the behavior over again. I just couldn't trust her anymore. Your points are well taken. Great hub.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi jtboswell, I am sorry to hear of your ending friendship. Under the circumstances, it sounds like the best. Perhaps one day you can reconnect. But trust is the foundation of a sound relationship. Best to you, Steph


Drew Breezzy profile image

Drew Breezzy 7 years ago from somewhere in my mind

wow this helps a lot thanks


Jess Farley profile image

Jess Farley 6 years ago from London, England

just watched a friend on friend break up happen this weekend. Very sad, but necessary. Sent your hub to the friend in question who has beating herself up over whether she made the right decision or not. Friendships can be complicated, especially when they stop being healthy for either person involved!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Jess - thank you. It is a tough situation when a friendship is over. Hope that your friend makes it through OK


medallion1979 profile image

medallion1979 6 years ago

A best friend and I grew apart after I had my first baby. On those rare occassoins that we met (in baby showers and other gatherings),I realised that we no longer had anything in common so I sort of let go. We do drop each other emails now and then (once a year, maybe)


anoni 5 years ago

I ended a friendship with a friend who was always criticizing me in one way or another. She said hurtful things also at difficult times in my life and when I called her on it she argued with me and claimed I was attacking her. I asked her to apologize and told her this was very hurtful to me, but she didn't and kept asserting that she was right. When my blood pressure was going up at one conflict I decided enough is enough, this woman is making me physically ill and I cannot discuss my true feelings with her, so what is the point of retaining any form of frienship?


dichter1993 5 years ago

This is great. But substance abuse or engaging in behaviour you don't agree with can sometimes just be a friend in need. I thinking that ending the friendship, in that case, should be a last resort... however, I love this hub! keep up the good work


coeur brise 5 years ago

I like the topic of this hub, it is not often addressed on hubpages. There are some people that have a negative impact on your life and can drag them down with you. It can be hard to recognize them and the damage that they are doing to you. I like the way you have discussed what makes a healthy friendship, I think most of us out there have or have had friends that negatively influence their lives.

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