Have you ever had a friendship to run its course, but weren’t quite sure how to end a friendship without hurting their feelings? It’s tough, but sometimes, friendships end. That’s just how life goes. There are some things that you can do to help make ending a friendship a little bit easier. It’s never a good idea to stay in a toxic friendship.
I want to help you through what might be a difficult time with some practical tips for ending a friendship without drama.
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Knowing When It’s Time to End Your Friendship
Friendship can be a beautiful thing when both parties are truly intentional about nurturing the relationship. But, unhealthy friendships are draining and can cause undue stress and anxiety.
I could begin with a list of reasons to end a friendship, but somehow, I think you already know the deal. Truth is, you can tell if it’s time to move on from the friendship!
You usually begin seeing several signs when it’s time to reevaluate your friendship and determine whether or not you want to continue a relationship with the person in question. Some key things might be betrayal of trust, constant disrespect, lack of support, and vast differences in personal values. There might be other reasons that you are considering ending the friendship.
Let me stress that I am a huge advocate for forgiveness. So, if it’s a really good friend, you should try to forgive them before calling it quits. Sometimes we can get so mad in the moment and we can end up ending a friendship that is really valuable to us. You don’t want to inadvertently stop being friends with someone that you really just need a break from.
However, If you determine that you need to forgive and move on with your life, I understand that, too. Forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation of the relationship. If you have determined that it’s time to move on, it may just be time to call it quits.
Ok, so now let’s talk about how to end a toxic friendship gracefully.
Drama-Free Ways to End a Friendship Gracefully
Ending a friendship is difficult enough without the added drama that sometimes comes along with it.
1. Be Open to What They Have to Say
Mature adults are good communicators. However, depending on the context of the conversation, it might be a little more difficult to express your feelings or be open to listening to someone else express theirs. Emotions can make things a bit more complicated, so it’s important to go into the conversation with an open mind and open ears.
When you have this conversation with your friend, make sure that you are being a good listener. Don’t interrupt the person when they are talking to you, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. Be mindful of your facial expressions and body language during the conversation. Avoid looking down at your cell phone during the conversation so that you can be truly engaged in the conversation.
Be open to listening to your friend as you talk through the future of your relationship. In this conversation, be honest about your feelings, especially if you’ve been friends with the person for years. This won’t be easy, but it’s good to have some closure so that you’re not constantly thinking about needing to have this conversation.
2. Don’t Block, Ignore, or “Ghost” Them
What you certainly don’t want to do is end the friendship without explanation. Even if you are frustrated or angry with your friend, don’t just ghost them. Schedule a time to talk.
Ghosting can have some harmful effects. It can make your friend feel disrespected and rejected. You do not want to be responsible for projecting this type of hurt onto someone else.
Instead of simply ghosting someone, it’s important to have a private conversation to let them know the relationship over and to explain why. And please, I repeat, please do this privately. There’s no need for an audience. That’s bound to make the situation escalate.
3. End Things in Person or in a Letter
There is so much debate about whether or not it’s acceptable to end a relationship by letter or text. You never want to end a friendship by text as your first option. It’s always better to have a face-to-face conversation. But, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, send an email or write a letter. This might be the best option if the friendship has become especially toxic.
If you’ve been having heated arguments with your friend during your last few face-to-face interactions, this might be a good option.
The message that you send to your friend does not need to be long. A simple, “Hey (Friend’s name), just reaching out to let you know why I haven’t been responding to you lately…” will work just fine.
Be mindful of the words you use and don’t use this time to place blame on the other person.
4. Be Prepared for an Ugly Response (& Try to De-Escalate)
Cutting off friendships isn’t exactly a pretty thing, but there are things you can do to make it a smoother transition. If the other person responds in a negative way, there are a few things you can do to de-escalate the situation.
When dealing with an angry person, you may be tempted to match the energy they bring. However, it might be a good idea to just listen and let them get things off their chest.
Be slow to engage in an argument with the person, since this is probably one of the reasons that you no longer want to be friends with the person. Wait until the person has had a chance to say everything she needs to say. Pay attention to your body language while the person is talking. It may be tempting to stand with your arms folded and roll your eyes as they say things that you don’t agree with. But, refrain from doing those things as they will likely complicate the situation even more.
Listen actively as they vent and wait for them to calm down. Remember, this person is entitled to their feelings just as you are. You can’t control how they respond, but you can control yourself. Don’t be judgmental. If the situation gets to be too much. Simply walk away, but not before making an honest attempt to hear the person out.
5. Be Honest, But Gentle
You certainly want to be honest with the other person about why you want to end the friendship, but the goal is not to be too harsh. Find ways to be honest without leaving the person feeling bad about themselves.
Prior to talking to your friend, think about your intended goal for the conversation. Keep that goal in mind the entire time that you are talking to the person and make sure that your statements support that goal.
You want to be intentional about paying attention to your tone throughout the conversation. Make sure to start the conversation gently and try to stick to the purpose of the conversation to limit opportunities for the conversation to go awry.
6. Don’t Accuse, Blame, or Point Fingers
To end a friendship without confrontation, make sure you don’t play the blame game. When you have a conversation with your friend, make sure to use “I” statements. Don’t point fingers and place the blame on the other person.
7. Consider the “It’s Not You, It’s Me” Approach
If you really want to stop being friends with someone without hurting their feelings, consider the “It’s not you, it’s me” approach. This statement implies that you lack what it takes to continue being a good friend to this person. This may make it easier to end a friendship without hurting someone else’s feelings. It’s also less likely that the person will walk away with hurt feelings.
8. Just Make Yourself Less Available Over Time
Another method is to slowly end a friendship. Gradually pull back from the relationship. If this is someone that you talk to regularly, it will be noticeable if you just all of a sudden stop talking to him. However, maybe instead of talking every day, you transition to talking every other day or weekly until there’s enough space for you to clearly think about if you really want to end the friendship.
Ultimately, Their Feelings Are Not Your Responsibility
Sometimes, no matter how politely you try to end the friendship, they take it personally and feel hurt. That’s completely normal. Humans are emotional creatures so it’s completely expected for the person to get emotional, especially if they aren’t quite ready to end the friendship.
I encourage you to do what’s best for you. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your mental health. It is not your responsibility to tend to the other person’s feelings. You are responsible for your own feelings.
I am not advocating for you to be intentionally mean and nasty to another person. But, I am advocating for you to put yourself first and take care of yourself. Ending toxic friendships is necessary to protect your peace.
I hope this gave you some good ideas for how to end a friendship nicely while protecting against hurt feelings. You may want to check out this video where I talk more about ending friendships without drama.
Ending a toxic friendship is a form of self-care. You may not realize it, but self-care is essential for living a happy and satisfying life. My Comprehensive Guide to Self-Care can be your complete guide to starting your self-care routine.
Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful:
- The Best Tips for Ending a Friendship – Ending a friendship involves many of the same obstacles as ending a romantic relationship. Learn more about how to end a friendship in the best way. (verywellmind.com)
- How to Leave a Friendship (Gracefully, and Without Hurt Feelings) – Friendships come with just as much love (and require just as much work) as romantic relationships, so what do you do when you’re ready to throw in the BFF towel? (apartmenttherapy.com)
- 3 Ways to End a Friendship Without Hurting Their Feelings – CLEVER-ISH – Some friendships devolve and become co-dependent, one-sided, or unhealthy and they end up bringing you more heartache than joy. You can put an end to such friendships without feeling guilty by (cleverishmagazine.com)
- How to Politely Stop Being Friends With Someone – Friends are essential to our lives as social beings—we confide in them, look to them for support when we’re feeling down, and celebrate with them when we experience success. As we grow and evolve over time, our friendships will change (wikihow.com)
- Six ways to end a friendship gracefully – When you’ve outgrown a friend it can be hard to navigate the cooling off period. Here’s how to end a friendship gracefully. (chatelaine.com)
- Is It Time to End That Friendship? – There’s no real protocol for cutting off a friendship – which can lead to a whole lot of confusion. Barbara Graham shines a light into the mist. (oprah.com)
- 9 Therapist-Approved Texts To End A Friendship – Therapists offer scripts for how to end a friendship over text. (bustle.com)