9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (2023)

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Natalia Lusinski


9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (1)

  • Sometimes, you and a friend may not click the way you once did.
  • Whether you've grown apart or the relationship has become toxic, at some point, you may need to break up with a friend.
  • Here, three therapists weigh in regarding signs it's time to end a friendship.

At some point, you may feel that you and a friend don't connect anymore, whether you find you have less in common or feel they're treating you differently lately and are subtracting from your life more than adding to it.

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Like a romantic relationship, you may know it's not working out, but when it comes time to breaking up with them, it's easier said than done. However, sometimes, there are signs it's time to dump a friend.

"We crave connection and to build a pack around us," Kailee Place, licensed professional counselor (LPC) at her private practice, Shifting Tides Therapeutic Solutions, in Charleston, South Carolina, told Business Insider in an email. "We may have different groups of friends that serve different purposes — from friends who enjoy going on adventures to ones who may indulge our homebody side — and healthy friendships allow us to be authentic, comfortable, and loved."

Place said the common theme in working friendships is having a friend who leaves you feeling supported and cared for. "Occasionally, friendships go sour, and it's incredibly hard to cut off a friend, but keeping a toxic friend around is draining," she said. "In the long run, it's better to cut ties, and find people who appreciate and support you."

To Place's point, if you're not sure whether or not to cut someone out of your life, here are 9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists.



1. The friendship is consistently one-sided

Any type of relationship should be a two-way street, whether it's a platonic, familial, or romantic one. But if you find that a certain friendship is consistently one-sided, it may be time to say goodbye.

"If you're pouring energy into someone who isn't giving you the same treatment, it's not a mutual friendship," Place said. "If you are finding your friend only pops up when they need something or they are going through a hard time — but often go silent or provide very little in your time of need — it's time to say bye to this friend."



2. They betray your trust

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (2)

Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

Trust is a big part of any kind of relationship, and once it's gone, it's hard to recover.

"In friendships, there are minor and major betrayals that injure trust," Melody Li, an Austin-based licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), relationship specialist, and co-founder of the Austin Counseling Collective, told Business Insider in an email.

Li said if it's a minor incident and the injuring friend shows regret and a plan to regain trust, the injured friend may give them another chance — with caution. "However, major betrayals — like seducing the friend's significant other, cheating, or stealing money — are red flags," she said. "That relationship may not be worthwhile to reexplore at all."



3. They don't keep your secrets

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (3)


Along the lines of being able to trust your friend, you want to make sure that they keep private things private, according to Jill Whitney, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) who writes about relationships and sexuality at KeepTheTalkGoing.com. "You need to be able to trust your friends to respect your confidences," she told Business Insider in an email.

Many things you talk about won't be especially private, she said, and then it's probably fine for your friend to share those things with other friends. "But when you make it clear that you don't want a specific thing shared, any decent friend will honor that," Whitney said.



4. They are overly negative and pessimistic

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (4)

Mikhail Mokhrushin/Strelka Institute/Flickr

Although everyone has good times and bad times, if your friend tends to be more pessimistic than optimistic, it may be a sign to end the friendship.

"If you have a friend who is consistently negative without making efforts to change, it may be time for some distance," Place said. "Most people are compassionate and empathetic of others, especially friends, but you must take care of yourself first and foremost." She said if a negative friend is bringing you down, it's reasonable to spend less time with them or take a break from them altogether.



5. You have little or nothing to talk about

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (5)


Sometimes, friends drift apart, whether you have less in common or life circumstances have changed. If you have little or nothing to talk about anymore, it may be a sign your friendship as you knew it has come to an end.

"You and a perfectly nice friend can just drift apart," Whitney said. "You may have been close at one point in your lives, but now your paths have diverged so much that when you get together, it's awkward."

To save the friendship, Whitney suggested, talk about how your lives have changed or focus on an activity that both of you still like. "But you may decide to invest less time in that friendship instead," she said.



6. They create or attract drama

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (6)


If your friend constantly has drama happening in their world, it may negatively affect your friendship with them. "These types of friends can seem exciting for a little while — with things happening all the time — but it becomes clear that chaos follows this person," Place said. "You may notice relationships in their life seem to be unhealthy or chaotic, as well."

Place advises to ask yourself if this friendship is actually mutual and supportive, or if you're just being drawn into the amusement or drama. "And, sooner or later, you'll become part of the chaos versus just a spectator," she said.

Whitney agrees. "These folks are exhausting," she said. "They suck you into their tale of woe — they blame all their troubles on someone else or won't keep a steady job, yet constantly complain how broke they are." She said that, out of compassion, you may try to help, yet they never take your advice, and the same problems keep repeating.



7. They are passive-aggressive when you say "no" to them

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (7)


There will be times when you have to say "no" to a friend, whether it's regarding weekend plans or doing them a favor, and it may not be easy. Place says it's important to see how they react when you have to say "no."

"Sometimes, life happens and you need time for yourself, and that's okay," she said. "If your friend gets salty about you taking this time for yourself, that's not a healthy dynamic. A friend supports you and understands when you need to take time for yourself versus making it about themselves or being passive-aggressive."



8. They dismiss it when you raise a concern

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (8)


No friendship is perfect, and you and your friend should be able to voice your concerns when one of you feels hurt or needs to address a problem. However, if you can't, there may be a problem within the friendship.

"An immature friend may say you're wrong or overreacting," Whitney said. "They may immediately turn the problem back on you and not own any part of it."

She said a sign of a quality friend, however, is that they may not agree with you on something, but they will hear you out respectfully. "They'll care about your feelings and perspective," she said. "But friends who can't have a balanced conversation about problems in your relationship may not be friends worth keeping."



9. They make you feel worse, not better

9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists (9)


When you're with a friend, hopefully, they make you feel better, not worse. If it's the latter, it may be time to cut ties.

"If you find that every time you've been with a certain friend, you feel worse afterward, take a good look at what's going on," Whitney said. She said to consider a few factors: Do they constantly compare you negatively to themselves or other people? Do they consistently point out your faults? Do they mock you, maybe in an "Oh-I'm-just-joking-but-still hurtful" way?

Read next



9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists? ›

A friendship with a lot of ups and downs can negatively impact your stress level and health. Signs that a friendship should end include no longer having much in common or feeling drained by seeing them. Other signs may include competitiveness, harsh judgment, and a lack of respect for boundaries.

What are warning signs you should end a friendship? ›

Some signs that it may be time to end a friendship include gossip, manipulation, or disrespecting boundaries. Most friendships drift apart naturally. But sometimes you have to take steps to break up. One way to do this is to communicate using “I” statements and say things like “I need a break.”

How do you know when a friendship has run its course? ›

There are a ton of reasons why a friendship can fade, fizzle or flat-out end: you've grown apart, you no longer have common interests, you disagree fundamentally with their actions and behaviors, you've moved on from the very thing that connected you in the first place.

What personality traits would cause you to end a friendship? ›

  • 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.
Sep 9, 2021

What are 3 signs of a toxic friendship? ›

Toxic friendship signs
  • They disrespect your boundaries. ...
  • They always need something from you. ...
  • They don't take accountability. ...
  • They may weaponize their struggles. ...
  • They make you feel guilty for spending time with other people. ...
  • They dismiss your values. ...
  • They ignore your efforts to be a good friend to them.
Oct 12, 2022

What is the nicest way to end a friendship? ›

How do I end a friendship without hurting feelings? Instead of insulting the person or blaming them, take accountability for how you feel and why you want to end the relationship. You can tell them what you do appreciate about them and wish them well. Ultimately, you can't control whether someone's feelings are hurt.

What are the 7 strategies people use to end friendships? ›

Stopping spending time, stopping calling, cutting the person out of future plans, avoiding seeking to go out with them, stopping looking for them, stopping contacting them, meeting less often, being unavailable to meet, minimizing direct and indirect communication as much as possible, ceasing to share thoughts, ...

How do you distance yourself from a friend without hurting them? ›

How to Avoid Friends Without Hurting Them
  1. 1 Ask them to give you some space if you need it.
  2. 2 Tell them you can't text or call them as much.
  3. 3 Mute them on social media.
  4. 4 Don't share your plans and location on social media.
  5. 5 Take a fake phone call to get out of talking to them.

When should you let a friendship go? ›

One 2021 study notes that some signs a friendship has grown toxic include: you feel anxiety prior to meeting up with your friend. your friend encourages unwanted or unhealthy habits. your friend acts in ways that hurt your self-esteem, like mocking you.

What are the stages of losing a friendship? ›

Common Feelings After Losing a Best Friend

The five stages of grief is a framework that includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. After losing a best friend, you may experience some or all of these feelings.

What are 3 signs that indicate it's time to end a friendship? ›

Common Signs It's Time to Move On
  • You're not a priority. You may notice that your friend doesn't make an effort to be with you. ...
  • You don't connect at the same level. Friendships work best when both people want the same type of connection. ...
  • You give more than you take. At times, one person may need more than the other.

Which of the Big 5 personality traits most negatively impacts friendships? ›

Neuroticism, because of its links to negative affect and reactivity (Lahey, 2009), often contributes to higher levels of interpersonal conflict (Harris & Vazire, 2016) . ...

Which Big Five personality traits most negatively impacts friendships? ›

To summarize, the current report hypothesized that Neuroticism is negatively associated with the number of close friends whereas Agreeableness, Openness, Conscientiousness, and Extraversion are positively associated with the number of close friends.

When friendship has to end? ›

The friendship is consistently one-sided

But if you find that a certain friendship is consistently one-sided, it may be time to say goodbye. "If you're pouring energy into someone who isn't giving you the same treatment, it's not a mutual friendship," Place said.

What is the last stage of friendship? ›

Waning Friendship

Some friends stop putting in the time and effort to keep the friendship going, so it's not surprising that there is a decrease in emotional attachments. Second, both parties may become dissatisfied with the relationship and decide to take a hiatus or spend more time with other friends.

What to do before ending a friendship? ›

While there isn't an exact formula for ending a friendship, there are three steps you should take when you're ready to do so.
  1. Journal. Take time to reflect on your relationship and why you allowed this person to stay in your life for so long. ...
  2. Confront your friend. ...
  3. Talk in “I” statements.
Sep 27, 2022

How do you leave a friend nicely? ›

Best practices for making a clean, and kind, break from a BFF
  1. Don't text. ...
  2. Keep it on neutral ground. ...
  3. Tell them before anyone else. ...
  4. Be direct. ...
  5. Be kind. ...
  6. Be prepared to explain clearly. ...
  7. Use "I" ...
  8. Aftercare.
Aug 14, 2018

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