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55 Reasons Why People End Friendships

New research reveals why people end friendships.

Key points

  • Recent research has revealed why people may end friendships.
  • The reasons can be categorized into four categories, including selfishness, infrequent interaction, romantic involvement, and perceptions.
  • Compared to men, women were more likely to indicate selfishness and romantic involvement as important factors in ending a friendship.
Josep Suria/Shutterstock
Source: Josep Suria/Shutterstock

Friendships are an important and complex phenomenon, offering both a source of incredible pleasure and, at times, when confronted with the ending of a friendship, immense pain.

In new research published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, researchers conducted 40-minute semi-structured interviews on 20 participants (with a mean age of 35 years old) in a university laboratory. Two studies were conducted that aimed to understand why people end friendships. The first study consisted of in-depth interviews conducted by researchers. Once each interview was complete, an open-ended survey on the matter was conducted, asking the same participants to again list as many reasons as they could for having ended a friendship, to further validate the answers without a researcher present and the awkwardness that may bring.

The following 55 reasons were revealed, structured into four broad categories:

Selfishness

  • Friend does not respect me.
  • Friend only looks at their own interest.
  • Friend is two-faced.
  • There is a lack of trust.
  • Friend does not show understanding.
  • I feel that they take advantage of me.
  • Friend is not honest.
  • Friend does not support me.
  • I realized that friend is happy with my failures and is sorry for my successes.
  • Friend does not care about me.
  • Friend has degrading behavior.
  • Friend is ungrateful.
  • Friend betrayed my trust.
  • Friend takes without giving.
  • Friend does not look for a true friendship.
  • Friend did not support me in difficult times.
  • Friend is indiscreet.
  • Friend has offensive behavior.
  • There is a lack of reciprocity.
  • I cannot rely on them.
  • We do not have a good time together.
  • Friend is manipulative.
  • Friend does not try to keep our friendship.
  • Friend is arrogant.
  • Friend is judgmental.
  • I feel that friend oppresses me.
  • Friend is jealous of me.
  • Friend has a bad character.
  • Friend sees me competitively.
  • Friend is not selfless.
  • Friend is selfish.
  • Friend brings out the worst in me.
  • Friend does not acknowledge my achievements.
  • Friend takes me for granted.
  • There is a lack of communication between us.
  • Friend does not accept my choices.
  • Friend has no moral values.
  • We argue frequently.

Lack of frequent interaction

  • We lost touch because of daily life.
  • We live far away from each other.
  • I do not have enough time to keep this friendship.
  • We have no common interests.
  • We have different priorities.
  • Our characters are incompatible.
  • There were some misunderstandings between us.

Romantic involvement

  • Friend shows romantic interest in my partner.
  • Friend starts to show romantic interest in me.
  • Friend was romantically involved with someone that I was interested in.

Perceptions of friends and family

  • My family does not approve of them.
  • My partner does not approve of them.
  • My friends do not approve of them.
  • Friend is addicted to substances.
  • Friend is inconsistent.
  • Friend has poor personal hygiene.
  • Friend drives me to things that are not good for me.

A follow-up study conducted on 557 participants (with a mean age of 31.6 for women and 34.8 for men) asked participants to rate the likelihood of each of the 55 reasons would be to cause them to end a friendship. The most significant factors in ending a friendship were discovered to be, broadly, selfishness, being more likely to end friendships with those who looked after their own interest, were not supportive of them, were dishonest, and were taking without giving, among the prime reasons. Secondly, participants noted that they would terminate a friendship based on distance, a lack of time, and having no common interests.

Women were more likely than men to indicate reasons of selfishness, specifically having the friend not be supportive, or be manipulative, as well as a friend showing romantic interest or having been romantically involved with someone they were interested in, resulting in ending a friendship. Men, conversely, were more likely than women to indicate having a friend live far away as a reason to terminate the friendship.

Facebook image: Josep Suria/Shutterstock

References

Apostolou, M., & Keramari, D. (2021, July 29). Why Friendships End: An Evolutionary Examination. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ebs0000269

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