- Research gives us insight into why friends cut us off.
- Perceived selfishness may end friendships.
- Romantic intentions can play a role in friendship termination.
It is no surprise that individuals of all ages are distressed, confused, and even devastated when friendships end. After all, much time is involved in both forming and sustaining friendships. Friendships play an enormous role in our lives. We look to friends for emotional support, companionship, and to be sources of joy and pleasure. When friendships deteriorate, we lose a lot.
In a recent study conducted by Apostolou and Keramari (2021), 577 individuals ages 18 and over were involved in determining the four main reasons why friendships end. Both males and females were involved in this study. Keep in mind that there was no differentiation made between same- and opposite-sex friendships. The authors found some fascinating results that should help inform why friends may drop each other. You may get some insight into why you have lost a friend and may even learn what not to do if you are very much invested in a friendship and want to maintain it.
Overall, Apostolou and Keramari (2021) concluded that the following four factors accounted for the end of friendships in their study participants.
1. Selfishness. This included a lack of trust and reciprocity in the friendship. Additionally, it included friends becoming unsupportive, manipulative, and unkind. See the study for several more behaviors that fall under the larger category of selfishness. Women were more likely than men to end friendships due to selfishness.
2. Lack of frequent interaction. Losing touch and a decreased amount of communication fall under this heading. Interestingly, men were more likely to cite this as a reason for ending a friendship.
3. Romantic involvement. Here, women were more likely to end friendships if they perceived that their friend was interested in them or their partner in a romantic way.
4. Perceptions of friends and family. Men and women were equally likely to end friendships if friends and family disapproved of other friends. Perhaps friends point out the negative effects that others have on us.
Finally, the present study found that older individuals were more likely to end friendships. The authors of the study suggested that older individuals already have a well-formed group of friends and are thus in a better position to sort through and eliminate friendships that are not serving them.
There are some limitations in the current study. Perhaps, future studies can look at the dynamics of ending same vs. opposite-sex friendships. Additionally, it would be helpful to know the quality of the friendship before it was terminated. A new friendship may or may not be more likely to be ended than a longstanding relationship. Finally, this study was conducted in Greece and it would be interesting to see if the results replicated in other cultures.
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Apostolou,M., & Keramari, D.(2021). Why friendships end: An evolutionary examination. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance publication.