The Goods

How do you break up with a friend? 3 tips for calling it quits

Andrea Bain’s top tips for ending a friendship and letting go of the guilt.

Andrea Bain’s top tips for ending a friendship and letting go of the guilt.

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This article was originally published April 26, 2018.

Friendships can be tricky no matter what, but with so much social media out there, avoiding someone you'd like to unfriend feels impossible. We've all become incredibly accessible through email, phone, apps, and text, and although ghosting seems like an option, you could still run into them if you have mutual friends. So what do you do if you hit a wall with a friendship and you'd rather keep it classy instead of just avoiding them? How do you actually break up with a friend? Well, we turned to Andrea Bain, The Goods' resident relationship expert, to get her advice and she shared her top three tips for a clean break.

Dear Andrea,

I've decided that it's time to end a friendship with a woman I've been friends with for a decade. Her rudeness and narcissism have pushed me over the edge, and I'm confident this is the best decision for me. Lately I've just been avoiding her messages and calls, but we live in the same city and I know I'm going to run into her eventually. I've broken up with boyfriends before but this is new territory. How do I break up with a friend?


It's not me, it's you

It's always uncomfortable to pick up your phone and grimace when you see a text or missed call from the person you're trying to avoid. Maybe they're asking for a favour, money or your time, but whatever it is, even if you don't want to deal with them, your guilt can prevent you from doing what's best for you. Maybe it's because you've been friends for a long time or maybe you feel responsible for them during a rough time. Either way, if you can't shake the feeling that you aren't enjoying the friendship anymore, you have to do something. Life is too short.

Let go of the guilt

It's ok to let that person go. Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season. If all you cherish is the number of years that you knew each other, then you're focusing on quantity not quality. If you don't like them, it doesn't matter that you've known you them for 30 years; that's just 30 years of an unsatisfying friendship. A lot of people feel guilty about doing what's best for them, but when friendship is no longer working for you, allow yourself to let that person go and move on. Surround yourself with a really good support network and you'll soon see what mutually beneficial friendships should feel like.

Cut down on contact

Andrea believes it's not a good idea to ghost your friend. Instead, it's best to communicate your feelings — especially if you invested a lot of time in the friendship. Have an actual conversation since you'll likely to run into this person again if you have friends in common. Call them and tell them about your feelings and that you want to take a little step back. If you don't think you can handle that confrontation, don't get back to them as quickly as you normally do. For example, if you usually answer when they call, wait three days to two weeks to return their call. If they're calling to ask for money or to gripe, they'll find someone else to rely on during that time. Gradually slowing down contact allows them to figure it out on their own without feeling like they were given the axe. You don't want to be the number one person on their call list, and you'll get there by being less available. 

Don't hold a grudge

Don't be bitter, says Andrea. Of course it's upsetting that your friend let you down and that's understandable if they didn't meet your expectations of friendship. But instead of continuing to talk about it with other friends long after the fact, just keep it moving. Forgive them and don't hold a grudge. This is entirely for your benefit and allows you to have more emotional energy to spend on other great friends you know and love.