8 Signs You Should End a Friendship
Updated: Jul 31, 2021
Ending a friendship, from a friendship coach's perspective.
It’s been a few months now, and you’re still going back and forth about whether or not you should end a friendship that has you feeling less than great. You’ve asked your friends, co-workers, boyfriend, and mom about what you should do, only to get different responses from everyone, and none of them have been helpful.
On one hand, your friend has incredible qualities, and you fear you might be overthinking things. But on the other hand, you can’t help but wonder if, because of some of the things that have transpired lately, it might be time to actually cut things off.
We hope to offer a little bit of clarity by walking you through the 8 signs that it’s time to definitely, absolutely, 100% bring your friendship to a close. While we normally avoid telling you what to do, we’re certainly going to give you some things to consider as you determine the right plan of action for your particular situation.
Signs That It's Time to End a Friendship
Sign #1: Your boundaries are being disrespected.
First, we’re operating off of the assumption that she knows what your boundaries are. If you haven’t expressed that something a friend is saying or doing is crossing the line, how can she be held accountable to know? How can we expect her to stop doing something that we refuse to communicate to her is out of bounds? We’re not talking about her sleeping with your man; that is boundary crossing of the obvious sort. But if she’s saying things you find belittling, offensive, or triggering, you have a responsibility to make her aware before blaming her for the behavior.
We know it’s uncomfortable and that she might ask questions or be initially offended. But she might also apologize and admit she didn’t know. It’s necessary to make sure she’s even aware of her boundary crossing before cutting her off. This shows your friend how to love you well, but you have to express it.
Secondly, these boundaries must be reasonable. One of our clients had specific boundaries and requests that were absolutely unfair to other people. So while boundary crossing is a reason to terminate a friendship, the boundaries must be rooted in reason and clearly expressed.
Sign #2: It feels like a one-way street.
One of the most common complaints we get is that a friendship isn’t reciprocal. If you’ve ever felt that way, know you’re not alone. Again, we challenge you to take an aerial view of your situation. It’s possible you’re in a season that does have one friend who is a little needier than usual, and the balance of who is showing up is a little off kilter; that is normal.
But if it becomes a pattern about how you have to show up and support emotionally or financially, and your friend never asks questions or shows interest in your life and what’s going on, then this disparity might reveal that it’s time to pull away.
Sign #3: You feel like your physical or mental safety is threatened.
This might be the most obvious one, but when you’re actually “in” the situation, you can become totally blind to what’s happening. You might tell yourself that you know the person intimately, whereas other people don’t. But let us be clear: if you have a friend who makes you feel physically threatened in any way, where she may get so upset that she’d hit you, harm you, spew hateful words, or berate you, unequivocally we are saying it’s time to exit immediately.
Sign #4: The friendship has become negative and emotionally exhaustive.
If you find that you leave every interaction with this friend feeling tired and cognitively and emotionally depleted, that’s worth paying attention to. Some interactions will inevitably be heavy because that’s just what relationships with other humans can sometimes bring. But if it becomes the norm to feel this way after every interaction, it may be time to bring this friendship to a close.
Now there are other reasons you may find yourself exhausted in a friendship that have nothing to do with the other person, so we’ve provided a free downloadable list to help you get to the root of why this may be.
But if you’re exhausted because the other person is chronically venting, complaining, expressing their misery, and emotionally dumping, and that has become your every interaction, it might be time to end the friendship.
Sign #5: She embarrasses you in public.
We’re not talking about her “bad” dance moves when you’re out in public. We’re talking about the obvious kind: she’s making jokes at your expense, she’s exposing your insecurities publicly, she’s asking embarrassing questions when she knows people are listening, or she’s calling you “playful” names. This is a blatant display of not having respect for your feelings, safety, well-being, and self-respect. If you have a friend who embarrasses you in public, it shows disregard for a host of other things.
Sign #6: There’s any sort of controlling, guilting, and on-going manipulation.
If you feel the need to only hang out with certain people, only say certain things, cut certain people and behaviors away, or avoid certain subjects because this person is going to get mad, question your character, or make you feel like you have to justify your choices, you might want to consider ending that friendship.
When it comes to feeling guilty, there may be some things you feel bad about where you shouldn’t and where the other person isn’t a driving factor. She’s not necessarily exerting control to make you feel guilty, but it’s driven internally; that’s something worth reflecting on a little bit. But if you can pinpoint and trace those feelings back to a person who is manipulating by saying certain things, guilting you, controlling you and your decisions, that’s something else entirely. It’s not possible to show up freely and authentically in a friendship when that is going on.
Sign #7: There is a breach of trust
Depending on the magnitude of the situation, we do tell women to “opt-in” in a world that’s telling us to “opt-out” of relationships, because we want to build long-lasting relationships of depth. But if there is an on-going breach of trust, it’s time to roll out.
If a friend has been dishonest, it’s always worth a conversation to get some context and see if she is truly remorseful about misleading you. But if a friend’s usual MO is to say things that aren’t true or withholding things that are related to you or could be hurtful for you, and you find yourself questioning every word, you don’t have time for those mind games. You can’t feel safe in that friendship, and trust, safety, and vulnerability are required to make a friendship work.
Sign #8: You have different values, and there’s no way to work around it.
First, see if there’s a way to contain this with boundaries. But if you feel like it’s an issue of your humanity and the ideologies this person is perpetuating are problematic in the most fundamental ways, ending the friendship may be the best way to preserve your integrity.
How do you recover from a toxic friendship and master adult friendships?
At this point we’ve gone over 8 reasons why you may need to bring a friendship to a close. But how do you do that?
We’ve just launched a new signature program called Friendship Elevated, a 6 week program where video modules drop every week, and you have access to personal time with Danielle to walk through how to master adult friendships.
We have an entire section where we talk about ending friendships and dealing with conflict, including phrases you have to avoid if you want a healthy friendship break-up, certain ways to format the conversation to bring understanding, and how to be clear about why you’re ending it. Additionally, there are two things you have to do at the end of every friendship break-up to make sure things stay healthy and to minimize any guilt or confusion. We walk you through all these things, and we even provide scripts if you need them.
If you’re tired of one-off band-aids, TikToks, and podcast episodes with bite-sized tips, and you need a total transformation of your friendships, then Friendship Elevated is probably for you.
We hate to see friendships end, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you’ve been on the fence about how to move forward, we hope this helped make things for you super clear. We are always here rooting for you on your on-going journey to better female friendships.
Friendship Coaching Advice by Danielle Jackson
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We provide advice on how to make friends, navigating toxic relationships, friendship breakups, and other issues common in female platonic relationships. Want to get closer with your girl friends? We can help!