How To Break Up With A Friend Without Feeling Guilty About It

by Jenna Crawford February 07, 2018

How To Break Up With A Friend Without Feeling Guilty About It

Many people have been through a breakup with a significant other but breaking up with a friend can be even harder. When you have a fight, you know you can't resolve or you just don't have that much in common anymore, it's time to pull the plug. You can let the friendship fade out naturally, have a confrontation with your friend, or cut things off cold turkey. No matter what, it helps to be prepared to deal with the feelings you'll experience when it's finally over.

When you have a friend that constantly hurts your feelings, it might be time to do the hard thing and call it. Breaking up with a toxic friend can be just as hard as saying goodbye to a significant other, spurring on afternoons filled with Ben & Jerry's ice cream and blanket cocoons. But when someone you trust constantly belittles you, tears you down, or makes you feel like less worthy of respect and love, then that person has got to go. And quick.

Here are ways on how to break up with a friend without feeling guilty about it:

1. Address The Issue

Before you start thinking dark thoughts and creating voodoo dolls, take a moment and go the direct route: Address the issue with your friend. That way if it's time to draw the friendship to a close, the person won't be blindsided. They'll recall all the times you've called them out for hurting your feelings. Addressing the specific issue without being confrontational is best so that you can bring their offensive behaviors to their attention. Many times, people don’t even realize that they are offending you. Don't bite your tongue when they do something that stings — let them know that's not a way you let yourself be treated.

2. Distance Yourself

Ghosting is the ultimate form of rejection. But distancing is something very different and can be a good place to start when thinking about ending a friendship. Not calling or texting as often, or finding ways to gradually withdraw your effort, energy, and involvement, can give both of you a chance to get used to the change in your friendship without making it overwhelmingly personal or uncomfortable. It’s also a way to let your friendship run its course organically.

3. Set Boundaries

Maybe you want to cut things off for good right here and now, or maybe you're fine seeing the person every now and then in a group setting. Whatever the case, be very clear that this is a breaking point, and from now on things will be different. Lay out your boundaries up front so you won't be tempted to back down later.

4. Unfriend Them On Social Media

You don't need to be creeping on what dish they ate at the Thai place, and they don't need to know what you've been doing on Friday nights. There is no need for either party to have the insight to who this person is and where they’re going or what they have become. Social media provides unnecessary information that can spawn feelings of jealousy, resentment and additional gossip that is not needed. Make the break clean and complete — you might be curious, but don't leave any strings attached that might lead them back to you.

5. Don’t Be Argumentative

When you decide to have a direct conversation with your friend about how you feel, note that this is not an open forum for communication. Instead, this should be you telling your friend the situation and then leave. Make a promise to yourself that you will avoid arguments and pleads to “fix” things. Stay firm in your choice and state your boundaries. No matter what, it’s important to be kind in the situation. Be the bigger person, so that you feel good about yourself when you leave the conversation.

6. If You're Growing Apart, Don't Fight It

The fade-out method is best for a situation in which you and your friend are simply growing apart. Maybe there's no concrete reason you don't like the person anymore; you're just interested in other things and other people. Start spending your time how you want to spend it, hanging out with people and doing activities you enjoy. Chances are, your friend will do the same, and you'll start drifting apart without having to make a big deal about it.

7. Be Straightforward

When it comes to ending romantic relationships, we expect people to be upfront and direct. We want clarity. We want closure. This isn’t necessarily true for friendships. At least not always. And yet sometimes, the most straightforward option is the one that brings us the most clarity and comfort.

Instead of making it personal or blaming your friend, focus on the reasons why the dynamic of your friendship just isn’t working anymore. Rather than saying “You aren’t trustworthy,” highlight that trust and reliability are important to you and that, right now, you’re not ready to start re-establishing that trust. The message ends up being the same, but one of these is significantly easier to the stomach and makes it more likely you’ll end your friendship on better terms.

8. Gradually Let The Friendship Come To A Stop

Best case scenario, the person catches on that you've moved on from the friendship and decides to go his or her own way. However, if the former friend asks you what's going on, you may want to give him or her an explanation. Be ready for this reaction, since it could be the case that you mean more to your former friend that he or she means to you.


Friendship breakups are just as painful as romantic ones, so be gentle towards yourself afterward. Send love and light to the person and let them go. Surround yourself with good people who will lift you up and support you. Know that ghosting can be an act of self-care. In this post, I share with you ways on how to break up with a friend without feeling guilty about it.

Jenna Crawford


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