How To Take A Break From A Friend Without Becoming The Bad Guy

Confessions of a tired friend.

Friend Confessions Bad Friend Timothy Paul Smith on Unsplash

Here is what I know: I am not a perfect friend.

From forgetting to respond to a text message I opened two days ago to flaking (again) on plans, I make plenty of mistakes that could define me as a bad friend. But I also know that, as Christina Perry says, I’m only human. I can’t actually be someone’s everything because I might lose a part of myself in the process.

As much as I want to be there for my friends 100% of the time, I know that I can’t. It’s not realistic and it’s dangerous to put that kind of pressure on myself. I’m still trying to be OK with that.


Sometimes, I get tired. I get tired of people, of interacting, of being. I retreat, but that doesn’t mean I care about my friends any less. 

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Friendships can be draining, and I think it’s a problem that we don’t talk about often enough.

We need to discuss the fun and the not-so-fun aspects of friendships that can make you want to scream without a pillow covering your face. Yeah, the intense stuff. If we focus on the fun, we won’t have very fulfilling friendships in the future.


Now, I’m not telling you that completely ignoring your friends is a great idea (unless, maybe, they’re toxic and you should dump them anyway). Getting tired shouldn’t be an excuse to leave a relationship.

I’m saying it’s OK to feel overwhelmed, exhausted and otherwise annoyed on occasion over the course of your friendships. Everyone does.

It's important to take the time you need to recover and know that your true friends will be there for you when you’re back because you know you’re always there for them when they’re back. And you both will be back. You love each other more than words. A little R&R and time apart won't change that.

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The best thing that I learned was that telling the truth is always the best policy. Seriously. I feel comfortable enough with my friends to tell them “hey, I need to sleep,” “I have a ton of things to do” or “I just can’t 'friend' right now.” It lets them know that my sour mood isn’t because of them and that I'm choosing to not hang out with them for personal reasons, not because I don't love them.

Or, if it partly is because of them, I’ll mention the issue and work it out. I also explain why I need space and time alone and apologize profusely. I realized that I needed to admit when I was tired, physically or emotionally, and just express that. Your friends will understand and if they don't, well you know where you stand now.

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When I suck at being a friend, I need to remind myself that this situation and my feelings are temporary.

I need to remember that my friendships are still growing and crave more room to grow. I want them to grow, but it’s OK if it takes me hours or days to respond to a message. It’s OK to practice some self-love instead of going to that rock concert. It’s OK to be a mess alone for a while.


As long as your friends know you care and are there for them when they really need you, being a tired friend doesn’t make you a bad friend. Trust me. I would know.


Your very tired friend.


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Meaghan Summers is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.