Step # 1: Make the Decision

If you are wondering if it is time to let a friendship go, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I feel better or worse about myself or life, in general, after spending time with this person?
  2. Do I find myself ignoring texts or phone calls from this person or cancelling out on plans to get together with this person?
  3. Has this person’s presence in my life done more harm than good?

If someone brings you down or if you’re consistently avoiding someone, it may be time to end the friendship or at least “take a break” from the relationship.

Step #2: Use Healthy Self-Talk to Keep Up your Resolve

First: Tell yourself not to feel guilty.

Many socially connected people assume they should be able to “fix” a relationship that is falling apart or falling away. Unfortunately, they are taking on way too much responsibility for others, though, if they make that assumption. If you’ve given a failing relationship a fair chance and you have tried to address the issue with the other person, but are just not getting what you need from the relationship, it is absolutely okay to move on.

Think about it – would you rather have a friend who only hangs out with you due to her own guilt or someone who chooses to hang out with you because she think you are just absolutely awesome to be around?

Second: Remind yourself that friendships are relationships of choice.

Friendships must be mutual in order for them to be considered true friendships. You can’t choose family, but you can definitely choose your friends. It’s more than okay to be selective when you build your friendscape.

Step 3: Plan for as Healthy a Break-Up As Possible

  1. Do not let toxic relationships go on for too long.
  2. Weigh your words carefully.
  3. If it is likely that you will still run into an ex-friend in the neighborhood, at work, on campus, or at the gym, make sure that you end the relationship on as positive a note as possible.
  4. Technology issues may need consideration – unfriending, spamming, blocking emails, etc.
  5. Make it about yourself and your needs, not her wrongs.
  6. Acknowledge the benefits that the relationship has offered over time and express appreciation for the positive role she has played in your life in the past.
  7. Do not allow yourself to dwell on negative thoughts about revenge or punishment of the former friend.

Step 4: Step Away from the Relationship

  • Don’t let a toxic relationship go on for too long. Don’t delay the inevitable -- it usually just gets harder the longer you wait. It’s kind of like dragging out the removal of a Band-Aid.
  • “Ghosting” and always being “just too busy” are highly controversial methods for ending relationships.
  • If it’s a friend that you really only communicate with via social media or texting, fading away is probably doable without much drama, but that’s about the only time it would be okay.
  • Everyone pretty much knows that when someone complains about being “too busy” to catch up, it is code for “you’re off my A-list.” Don’t hide behind your job, your family, or other commitments. Remember, if you’re too convincing with excuses, you are only setting yourself up to deal with future efforts to keep someone’s name off your social calendar.
  • Weigh your “break up” speech carefully and make it about you – not them. Use “I statements” and own your feelings. Being honest can be a final parting gift for your soon-to-be ex-friend that may actually benefit her in the long run.
  • Avoid collateral damage as much as you can. If other friends may feel the need to take sides, approach them as soon as possible so that potentially tricky social situations can be prevented, if possible. In the case of mutual friends, be prepared for some causalities.

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Has technology and the busy-ness of the world changed the way that you engage with friends? Share your experiences in this survey: "Doing Friendship" in Contemporary Society

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