How To Know When It's Time To End A Friendship (& 4 Ways To Do So Appropriately)

Friendships come and go.

woman sitting on couch texting Ollyy / Shutterstock

Whether we want to admit it or not, people can change and the same goes for friendships. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to figure out when and how to end a friendship, especially if you don't want things getting ugly.

Just as it's normal for romantic relationships to fall apart, it's normal for friendships to end.

You've probably had a couple of groups of friends in life, and some stuck by your side while others you had to let go of or drifted away from.


A lot of the time you need to end a friendship because it has become toxic or you don't find it worth it trying to keep in touch with them.

But a breakup with a friend is often a lot harder than a breakup from a romantic relationship because there's a lot longer history, which is why it can be difficult to know when to end a friendship.

How do you know if it's time to end a friendship?

A toxic relationship isn't the only reason to end a friendship. Sometimes friends just drift apart and you don't feel like making the effort to keep the friendship anymore.

RELATED: I Didn't Realize I Was A Toxic Friend... Until My Best Friend Ghosted Me


However, these are the most common reasons.

1. Both you and your friend have different circumstances. 

While we might not see it that way, many friendships start because of circumstances.

For example, maybe you became friends when you started going to the same school or when you became coworkers. 

If those circumstances change, you might find that you don't really have anything in common.

2. The two of you have grown apart. 

Everyone matures and grows at a different pace, and everyone changes over time.

If you and your friend don't even know how to speak to each other anymore because of how much things have changed in your lives in terms of likes and interests, it might be worth it to end the relationship.


3. Your friend is lying to you.

Having a deceitful friend is not worth it because they might lie to you again and you don't know whether to trust them again. 

4. Your friend is very negative with you. 

You should never have to deal with a friend who is always putting you down and being very negative towards you when you talk to them or spend time with them. 

People like these are emotional vampires that threaten your own well-being, so you're better off keeping them at a distance.

5. Your friendship feels like an obligation. 

The longer you've been friends with someone, the more difficult it is to sever the friendship. But if being friends with them feels more like a chore than it is enjoyable, it's OK for the friendship to end.


6. It's more of a rivalry than a friendship. 

It's uncomfortable and unhealthy to feel like you're always in competition with someone. It's not a good friendship when there always has to be a winner and a loser.

7. Your friendship has become toxic. 

This is the worst way for a friendship to end, especially if they were a good friend and then became toxic. Some people become jealous of their friends, develop a toxic personality, or are trying to purposely make you feel awful.

8. You and your friend's values have changed.

Sometimes over time, people's values and priorities in life are more important than a friendship. 

RELATED: How To End A Toxic Friendship (Without Ghosting Like A Jerk)


Unhealthy Ways to End a Friendship

Even if you and your friend have an unhealthy relationship, that doesn't mean you should end the friendship on bad terms. 

1. Ghosting.

You shouldn't cut all contact with your friend because you might regret it and won't give yourself any closure you might want in the future.

2. Ending the friendship over text.

Ending a friendship over text is impersonal and hurtful.

3. Having someone else do your dirty work.

The best way to end a friendship is in person and telling your friend how you feel. You should never let another friend do the work for you by telling your friend through another person that you don't want to be friends anymore. 


How to End a Friendship Gracefully

If you value a friendship (you did care about each other at one point, after all, and probably still do, it's important to end a friendship gracefully and on good terms

Being kind leaves the door open for rekindling the friendship in the future if both of you decide that's something you want.

1. Sit down and talk.

Having "The Talk" with a friend is all about an honest conversation between you and your friend. This gives you a chance to ask each other where this can go or if things should just end between the two of you.

Having this talk gives you a chance to address and maybe even resolve each of your differences and learn how to have a healthy friendship. On the other hand, it could also make you realize how completely different each of your expectations is and set the tone for ending the friendship.


In order to do this, you should start by asking your friend out for coffee or lunch or somewhere in person and comfortable. Ask if you could bring up something that's been bothering you or say you have to be honest about something. Have an idea of what you want to talk about and achieve through this conversation.

Lastly, remember to listen as well and hear your friend out.

2. Let the friendship gradually fade out.

How do you end a friendship without confrontation? Reduce the time you spend interacting with them in person and on social media.

This is a good option for you if you are the type of person who wouldn't want to have "the talk" because your friend might be too toxic or mean to you or you hate confrontation. 


This method also doesn't abruptly hurt people's feelings and lots of times people can take a hint if someone stops making an effort to talk to you. 

3. Take a break from them.

Taking a break from a friend who is making you question if you even want to be friends with them actually has positive benefits.

This newfound time without your friend can give you a glimpse of what life would look like without your friend and make you realize if you actually do or don't want them in your life. If you are mad at them, this also gives you a chance to calm down or notice any red flags you didn't notice before. 

In order to take a break, you could be honest and say you need time away from them, but a little white lie won't hurt either if you don't want to hurt their feelings. You could say you're going to be really busy with work for the next 2 weeks and won't be available to talk. 


4. End things straight away with them.

This is a healthy way to end a relationship if you are dealing with a toxic friend or one that doesn't respect the boundaries that you are trying to set. If it helps you, write out what you want to say to them before saying goodbye and cutting all ties.

If you are afraid that talking to them or thinking about them is going to harm your mental health and make you feel hurt longer, leave them straight away. 

How do you end a friendship over text?

This should be your last option as it's the most impersonal. But ending a friendship over text can work if you want a swift, clean break and your friend isn't getting the hint.

If you choose to do so, carefully word your text to be as compassionate as possible, while also giving a reason for ending the friendship so your friend can have closure.


A written goodbye can help you end things peacefully and abruptly and help you avoid a confrontation with a mean friend. If this person ever made you feel invalidated or small, this will help you express everything that you've been feeling and allow you to assertively communicate why you want things to end.

This is also a good option so you can take your time thinking of anything and everything you want to say to them before saying goodbye forever.

Lastly, if your friend is ever physically or verbally abusive, this is the safest way you can say goodbye.

1. "We've grown apart lately and I don't think we should be friends."

2. "We've had great times in the past but for the past year or more I've noticed we've changed. Due to our different circumstances, I don't see why we should continue being friends." 


3. "I know we have a history together, but for the past couple of years or so, I feel as if we've grown distant and I don't think either of us wants to be friends anymore."

4. "We've grown apart and don't want the same things anymore, and for that reason, I don't think we need to be friends anymore."

5. "You ruined my trust in you when [insert situation here] and I don't think we should be friends anymore."


6. "I'm really not liking your attitude recently and it's been making me feel terrible. I don't want people like that around in my life."

7. "I feel terrible when I'm around you because you always put me down and make me feel bad, so I don't want to be friends with you."

8. "I know we've been friends forever, but at this point, I feel like it's a friendship out of habit. Because we've grown apart, I think we should focus on our other friendships."

9. "I'm sorry, but I feel like both of us realize that it's become an obligation to talk to each other when we know that deep down the friendship is gone."

10. "I'm sick and tired of the competition that I have to stress myself out with when trying to be friends with you. I'm over it."


11. "I don't want to be friends anymore because I'm sick and tired of the constant competition. Not everything in life should feel that way, especially with friendships."

12. "I don't like the person that you have become and I don't want to be friends with you anymore."

13. "It's sad that you used to be my best friend because now you're just a mean toxic person who I don't want anything to do with."

14. "I feel like we have different priorities and values in life that don't match up anymore and for those reasons, I don't think we should be friends anymore."

15. "I know we both have a lot going on right now, but I don’t think I’m in a place to keep being friends with you when our values are so different." 


Writing a letter is also a good option, but a text is an easier and faster option and the better option for an unhealthy friendship you want to end. 

RELATED: How To Know When It's Time To End A Toxic Friendship

Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers news & entertainment, love & relationships, and internet culture. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.