What To Do When It's Time To End a Friendship

What To Do When It’s Time To End a Friendship

Mar 24, 2015

I have accumulated many friends over my lifetime, and only a handful have become ones with whom I share my deepest and most intimate secrets.

Many of the others are people who bring something different into my life through their own unique gifts. Some stay and some don’t.

And then there are the few “friends,” I am embarrassed to admit, who have lingered in my life like houseguests who have overstayed their welcome. At first, you enjoy their company, but after a while, you are ready to clear your space and get back to your regular life. They just don’t seem to know when it’s time to go.

You know who they are. They are the ones who keep you on the phone longer than you would like.They end up chatting your ear off, but won’t listen when it’s your turn to talk. They make you feel guilty when all is well in your world, but not in theirs. And somehow, this ends up feeling like it’s your fault. They are the glass-half empty people who are certain they are never wrong about anything.

But for some reason, you feel obligated. You feel you should be there for this friend who clearly is not present for you. Why? Perhaps, it’s because you have known her forever? Could it be that you feel sorry for her? Or maybe you think that if you continue to offer her the support of your friendship, a positive shift may occur.

Isn’t it time to re-examine friendships that leave you with a surge of energy drain? Life is too short to spend your time, energy, and space with people who don’t contribute to your life in a positive manner.

Often, we become comfortable with a way of living and that way becomes the norm. The same is true with difficult friendships: We get used to them.

The problem is, if we don’t take a step back and evaluate them, we can easily get caught up in a relationship that no longer serves us. Rather than fulfill us, it slowly picks away at us in the subtlest ways.

How do you know if a friendship is an unhealthy one? And how do you deal with the realization that this person is toxic to be around? How do you minimize the drama of ending this relationship in the least painful way possible?


  1. Know your boundaries
    Most of us have layers within our broader circle of boundaries. Not everyone is meant to be our trusted confidants. You need to decide how close you are willing to allow this person into your circle of trust? If she doesn’t even meet your most basic requirements, it might be time to reconsider the friendship. 
  2. ​What is the lesson?
    After you have determined a friendship no longer meets your basic needs, ask yourself, What have I learnt from this relationship? And more importantly, Am I still learning?
    Challenging, difficult people will always be a part of life. And while encounters with these types appear destructive on the surface, you might realize they have helped you grow. What if these challenging friendships showed up in your life to serve a higher purpose? Sometimes, it’s best to learn the lesson, then move on.
  3. Cutting the Cord with Kindness and Honesty
    Ending any relationship is difficult. Feelings are hurt and people get upset. That’s why the best way to sever ties is through kindness and honesty. After you are clear on your intentions and your boundaries, be honest with the person you are “breaking up.” She deserves to know what happened rather than being left in the dark wondering what ever went wrong. 
  4. Allow Grief 
    You will more than likely miss this friend. Allow grief to pass through you. If it helps, write down all the reasons you chose to end this friendship in the first place, and keep it handy to remind you that you did, indeed, make the right choice.

People come into your life for a reason, season, or lifetime, or so the saying goes. If you have a friend who leaves you feeling drained, exhausted and confused, ask yourself:

  • What purpose does this person fulfill in my life?
  • What lessons am I learning from her?
  • How is she being my teacher?
  • How is this relationship serving me?

Getting clear on relationships and the feelings involved with them can be difficult.We are often too close to the situation to get a clear read on what to do. Situations like this are where coaches can help. They stand on the outskirts, looking in. They can see big-picture challenges and guide you on your next steps.

Do you need a neutral person to help you figure out your next steps? I can help. Reach out to me via email, and we’ll talk about what’s holding you back and how I can help you find clarity.

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