How To: End A Friendship

Discovering your feelings toward a friend aren’t what they used to be can be hard. It’s easy to recall the good times: bowling nights, poker parties, and that long ago frat party drinking binge. Chances are this is a guy you couldn’t imagine not having around. But over time people change. As we grow older our likes and interests may shift away from the things we used to love to do with that buddy. Maybe the trouble is that you’ve moved on with your life, personally and professionally, while your friend is still re-living his college years. Friendships can get rocky because of a friend’s basic unreliability or their outright backstabbing behavior. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that some relationships just weren’t built to stand the test of time.

Even though you may be acknowledging that it’s time to sever ties with a certain friend, you should probably do it so that the guy’s self-esteem will remain intact. Once upon a time the two of you were inseparable companions. Honor those memories, and the friends you were, by exiting a friendship tactfully. Also, don’t make a rash decision to end a friendship. If your friend has been going through an especially rough time lately and has been more self-centered and unreliable as a result, cut the guy some slack and lend him your support. If, however, you search your memory and discover that this particular friendship has been one-sided for a year or two, then it’s probably time to end that friendship.

Confrontation is not likely to be the best course of action. It will probably make the situation unnecessarily difficult and will almost certainly be awkward for both of you. Guys have a tendency to want to get things out in the open, but there are other ways to send a clear signal that you’re not interested in hanging out with a friend anymore.

First, try a little soul-searching. Maybe it’s not something guys want to do, but in this case it really works. Make a mental list of the reasons you think your friendship is over. Try to bring them all back to reflect on you. You’re not looking to blame the other guy, it’s just that you’d really like to spend Saturday at your kid’s soccer game rather than sitting on a barstool with your old pal. Go over this list regularly as you begin to break off the friendship. That way, if your friend begins to suspect he’s getting the brush-off and confronts you about it, you’ll have solid reasons for why you think it’s in your best interests and that it is not necessarily a reflection on him. This helps the friendship end without acrimony.

To end a friendship successfully, you must never initiate contact with the other person. That means no phone calls, no emails, and no texts. No invitations for next Friday night. Remember, it’s you who wants to end this friendship and you have got to draw a hard line. Seek out new friends who share your interests to help you resist the urge to call up the friend you’re trying not to see anymore.

You must also turn down their invitations – all of them. Be assertive and forthright, without offering convoluted excuses for why you can’t meet for lunch or go to Sunday’s baseball game. This means you may have to miss a concert or other event you wanted to attend, but it’s in your best interest to avoid contact as much as possible.

When your friend extends an invitation, be slow to respond, perhaps even exaggeratedly so. This sends a message that becomes increasingly hard to ignore as it is repeated time after time. Before long, without damaging self-esteem or dealing with any acrimony, the friendship will fade into a pleasant memory from the past and you’ll be free to focus on new friendships that are more worthwhile.