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Ending friendships: Exit strategies for friendships gone bad

Updated on October 6, 2011
Unfortunately, some friendships come to an end, but a proper exit strategy is vital.
Unfortunately, some friendships come to an end, but a proper exit strategy is vital. | Source

It sometimes happens that even good friendships come to an end for one reason or another.

Timing is important in dissolving any relationship – even a friendship.

However, your chosen exit strategy reveals as much about you as it reveals about the friendship you’re dissolving.

Depending on the way you end the friendship, you may not burn a bridge with another human being. Avoiding bitter ends is not only preferable; it makes you feel better about moving on.

Do it in person if possible

In this era of advanced information communication technologies, it is tempting to end relations with others by firing off a text, leaving a voicemail or using email – among others. That is usually the easy way out really. Sometimes, it is difficult to meet in person. However, if that is the case, then exercise due care with that “final” message. Make sure you reread it to ensure that you get the right message across – with emphasis on the tone of the message. This can be what differentiates mature persons from juveniles.

Discussing why you feel the friendship should end or be put on pause in person is good if you were close with your friend over a number of years. Sometimes, it might be a change in circumstances that precipitated your decision. It is important to not be accusatory at this point, since that would be counter-productive. After all, there may be a faint chance that the friendship might be salvageable.

Use the guillotine if necessary

Disappearing is not a recommended option, but life is not a bunch of roses. Maybe you discovered that your friend is dangerous or fear for your well-being if you only communicate with them again. Negative friendships or inappropriate ones might be tricky to handle. In such cases, you may be forced to halt communications suddenly or without a word. While it seems severe, this action may be necessary to reclaim your sanity and rid yourself of unwanted social baggage.

Let them down easy

In a few cases, it would be best to just create some space between you and your friend. You can just ease off into the distance without any fractious ending. This is a great method if you realize that you are not certain if you want to end things at a certain juncture. So you can downgrade your friend to an acquaintance by your actions.

You can interact much less and reduce your availability to an optimum level. You can remain civil, polite and even somewhat friendly, but you’re reclaiming your territory. This is a good option with persons that you are forced to see frequently.


The nature and closeness of your friendship and why you feel the need to end the friendship would be essential in deciding how you should end terminate it. At all times, remember that your former friend has feelings and that we should be magnanimous regardless of how toxic the other person may be.

It is also useful to bear in mind that we do not always have to burn bridges when ending friendships. Sometimes, it’s necessary to let someone “down easy” or allow time to heal wounds caused by it in order to progress. Perhaps you might even salvage the friendship. If you really would be better off without it, be decisive. Above all, ensure that you choose the right means for the right reasons.

How To End An Unhealthy Relationship That is Destroying Your Life - You Really Can Get Your Life Back
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  • karthikkash profile image

    Karthik Kashyap 5 years ago from India

    I think using the guillotine is still a bad way of ending a friendship. It is still a betrayal of friendship. The problem with it is that, it can happen even if the person perceives that the friendship is dangerous for some reason although it may not be the truth. It comes from my personal experience (and it was definitely a betrayal of trust). But the other ways are definitely mature.

    Indeed a good hub :)

  • Nyamache profile image

    Joshua Nyamache 5 years ago from Kenya

    Just like other relationships, friendship is challenging especially if it is the one that is not of true friends. In such cases if the person you are referring as friend is inconsiderate always there is no need to continue the friendship.

    I agree with what you have explained in your article.

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

    I just read your other hub about toxic friendships. This is another very useful hub on the topic. I like how clearly you explain things. This is an important issue for many people that tends to go unresolved. Besides myself having had a toxic friend I know many people who remain in friendships that are useless to them and even dangerous to their well-being.

  • profile image

    naturalsolutions 6 years ago

    For me the best way in starting or ending a friendship need a perfect timing. You are right it is important in dissolving any relationship. It is really sad to put an end but if it is badly needed we don't have a choice but to do it. It is just a matter of how, thanks a lot for this hub it really brighten up mi mind.

  • Jennuhlee profile image

    Jennuhlee 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

    This was such a truly creative hub to write. I actually find myself in that situation frequently, do I end it or do I not? These are all great strategies. Thank you for sharing:]