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How To Break Up With A Friend

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

It’s not just relationships that come to an end, sometimes even the best of friends can drift apart.

Realizing that you need to end a friendship with someone who has been a good companion throughout your life can be difficult to come to terms with. And sometimes it can cause more heartache than losing a significant other. 

While drifting apart can cause some pain, it’s not quite as devastating as having to sit down and explain to someone that your friendship doesn’t work anymore.

How To Break Up With A Friend

Friends are usually people that you build significant memories with, you share your secrets, you confide in this person, and you love this person, so it’s likely that you’re going to grieve this loss. 

You always want to make sure that you are certain that this relationship needs to come to an end, as it can be a difficult thing to rebuild once a friendship has been severed.  

Deciding To End A Friendship

So before we go into exactly how to end a friendship, let’s take a look at what factors you need to consider to know if you really want to end the friendship. Here are what i believe are some telltale signs that it’s time to let go. 

Growing Apart

This is a very sad but fairly unavoidable part of growing up. Some friends simply serve a purpose for a certain time of your life, and once that time is over, there’s not much left.

As people begin to grow up, you can find that you outgrow old school or college friends for example. 

A lot of friends can be situational. So for example, neighbors, roommates, or desk buddies. You develop a bond because it’s convenient based on your situation. You’re spending a lot of time in each other’s company so you bond together.

A lot of these friendships can weaken once you’re not brought together anymore. Maybe since you’ve moved out they’ve stopped replying to your texts, or since you changed classes you don’t find yourself speaking anymore. 

If you’re feeling like it’s become one-sided, or that you’re not as interested in putting in the effort to keep the friendship going, it may be time to think about ending the friendship while things are still on good terms. 


Incompatibility can be something that changes in time in long friendships, or it can be present in new friendships. 

Sometimes personalities just continue to clash no matter how hard you may try to prevent it. Communication styles, values, expectations, and support needs can vary from person to person and if these are too different in a friendship you’re going to struggle to bond. 

If you find that you and your friend are constantly clashing on issues, or they aren’t providing the support you need and require, it can be time to accept that the friendship is probably not going to work the way you want it to.

Of course, it is always best to communicate with your friend about how you’re feeling first, but if these conversations continue to be ignored, then it’s time to take a step back. 

Incompatibility doesn’t mean that either party is a bad friend, and it’s important to remember this when parting ways. 

Toxic Or Abusive Friendships

Toxic or abusive friendships need to be dealt with differently to other friendship break-ups and this is because these can risk your safety. 

If a friend is abusive, whether that is physically, verbally, or mentally, the first thing to recognize is that these types of people are not really your friends.

If a person is regularly putting you down, embarrassing you, assaulting you, pressuring you, or intentionally pushing your boundaries, they are abusive. 

Sometimes abuse can be hard to recognize, and even those who are aware may feel too frightened or anxious to actually think about cutting them off. However, it is imperative that you do. 

If you are genuinely concerned about an abusive reaction, especially a violent reaction, do not pressure yourself into breaking up with them in person as you believe it’s the ‘right thing to do.’ You must always put your safety first.

If you do feel threatened or believe you are unsafe, speak to someone. Whether that be another friend, family member, mental health professional, or the police. 

How To Go About The Break-Up 

So if you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to break up with a friend, let’s take a look at some of my top do’s and don’ts on how to actually go about it. 

Note: These tips may not always apply, especially in cases of physical and mental abuse.


  • Disappear With No Reason – Regardless of what may have gone on between you and your former friend, it is always kinder to explain why you’re leaving. Don’t just cut contact and stop speaking to them without a reason. The person still deserves the respect and honesty of knowing why you came to the decision you did. Even if that is difficult for you to do. 
  • Blame Them Completely – There’s a line between honesty and cruelty. Friendships that end usually have issues on both sides. No one is 100% perfect. While you may have decided to end the friendship based on their actions it doesn’t always mean that they have been a bad friend; being incompatible doesn’t make either of you bad people. 


  • Ensure You’re Calm – Never end a friendship in the heat of the moment when your emotions are heightened. All that’s going to happen is you’ll say things you don’t mean or regret. Take a time out to calm yourself down, and if you’re still unhappy you can talk it out. 
  • ‘I’ and not ‘You’ – When talking to your friend, try to use I statements instead of you statements. This helps avoid becoming accusatory and instead helps you direct the conversation in a way that expresses your feelings. 
  • Talk In Person – Having conversations over messenger or texts can be tricky as you can misinterpret the meaning behind messages. 
  • Be Truthful – This can feel like it’s too hard to talk about, but try to avoid cliches or even lying about the real reason the friendship is ending, they deserve more than that. 
  • Have A Support System – Friendship break-ups can be just as hard as relationships that end so ensure that you have people you can turn to that will help you through it. 

Final Thoughts

Losing someone you thought was going to be a permanent feature in your life is always hard. Try to remember that losing a friend isn’t always a bad thing though, if it’s ending it’s usually because you are not getting the happiness that you need.

Ending a toxic friendship can make way for new and prosperous relationships – and it’s never too late to make new friends!

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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