How to Break Up with Your Best Friend
Having a community of friends is incredibly important. When you have people that love and care about you in your corner, all of life’s curveballs become easier to deal with. Friends fill your life with joy, confidence, and support. Friends are an essential part of life.
However, there are times when a friendship goes from a healthy relationship to something downright toxic. This can happen slowly or suddenly, and when it does, it’s really difficult to deal with. It sends you into a whirlwind of pain and panic. You try to hold on, but everything in you tells you it’s time to move on. And, friendship breakups are just as hard (if not harder) than romantic breakups. So, how do you get through it?
Today, we’ve dedicated our post to helping you break up with your friends. It’s one of the toughest things we have to do in life, but we’re always better for it. You AND your former friend are better for it. Here are some tips for breaking up with those closest to you:
How to Break Up with Your Best Friend
Reasons to Break Up with a Friend
- You no longer hold the same values.
- They don’t respect your situation, time, or efforts.
- They’ve stopped listening or being empathetic.
- You can’t trust them.
- They disregard your boundaries.
- They always take and never give back.
- You feel manipulated and gaslit in conversations.
- They make fun of you and your accomplishments.
- You’re in two different places (distance or lifestyle.)
- They compete with you rather than support you.
Before you try to navigate a friendship breakup, meet up with other friends to find support. Those who love you and surround you probably see that this relationship is unhealthy. Talking with these good friends can help you feel validation and certainty about your decision.
They can also help you remove emotions from the equation. You can express your rage and sadness to them, and expel it from your mind before you confront your former friend. Meeting up with healthy friends is also a great way of reminding yourself you are not alone without this person.
Understand that this is normal.
Sometimes people encounter their first friendship breakup in middle school and others don’t run into it until their mid-30s. No matter when it strikes, it hurts. It feels completely overwhelming. And, it’s easy to convince yourself that you did something wrong. It’s easy to say, “surely, you must be a bad friend if this could happen.”
That’s not true. Friendship breakups are a totally normal part of life. It won’t happen to you once, not twice, but multiple times over your time on this earth. And, guess what? It’s okay. Normalize it to yourself, so you can better prepare for these breakups.
Don’t believe us? Check out this episode of What We Said, where podcast hosts Jaci and Chelsey discuss listener emails about their own friendship breakups. It’s incredibly affirming to hear from others who have gone through what you’re going through. You’re not crazy. You’re not a bad person. This is part of life!
Ensure you’re in the right place mentally.
Confronting a breakup when your emotions are running high is a bad idea. It’ll be so easy to drown out your message with tears, yelling, and other negative actions that aren’t fair to your former friend. Plus, acting on these emotions is unproductive and sometimes embarrassing. It can make the situation a whole lot worse!
If you’re feeling this strongly about the loss of your relationship, it’s possible you developed a type of codependency with your friend. It’s never a good idea to rely on friends to feel confident and wanted. It’s far too fragile of a foundation! You can learn more about this with Nicole Walters on her episode “Your Friend Isn’t Your Therapist.”
Before you meet with your former friend, start by spending time getting into a good mental state. Overcome the big waves of feelings and get to truth and facts. To gracefully end this relationship, you need to foster good mental health.
Plan what you want to say using “I” messages.
When you are preparing for a friend’s breakup, it’s easy to come up with a list of things that they did to deserve this. However, it’s not useful to go into the conversation blaming and accusing your friend of all the problems. Even if it’s true, keep it about you.
Instead of “You never reached out to me,” you could say, “I felt I was no longer prioritized when I stopped receiving messages asking how I was or what I was doing.” This will allow the listener to keep a more open mind. They’ll hear you better, even if they don’t accept the words or apologize. That’s okay. Don’t go into this expecting change from them. You can only fix yourself.
Fade out slowly.
When you’re considering how to break it off with a friend, fading it out slowly might be a good idea. If a lot of the issues revolve around naturally growing apart, this method is super effective and has little emotional damage.
Not talking or hanging out regularly is a common reason for breaking up with a friend. Maybe you’re always putting in an effort and they always say they’re busy or blow you off. Maybe they don’t respond to messages for days. Or, maybe they just moved far away!
To fade out, simply stop reaching out. No more messages hoping they respond. No more attempts at hangouts. Simply end it. If your friend has already become absent in your life, chances are they won’t notice this change. That’s fine. That means no one was hurt, but the friendship ended as naturally as it could have!
Talk in a public place.
However, a fade-out doesn’t work for every situation. If you feel there is some explanation in order, meeting in person is a way better choice. A face-to-face meeting may be uncomfortable, but in order to respectfully and officially end things, it’s worth the discomfort. (Being outside your comfort zone is okay!)
When you do meet in person, go to a neutral public place. This will keep everyone comfortable and prevent yelling. At a neutral location, it’s easy for each of you to feel safe, and you can leave whenever you need to. A coffee shop is a great place for a meetup!
Send a thoughtful message.
If you feel unsafe or incapable of meeting in person, send a message. This can come off a bit impersonal if you’ve known this person for a long time, but it is an option. Sending an email or DM shouldn’t be frivolous when breaking up with a friend.
Be honest and understanding, and note that you really cherish the time you both spent together. Then, move on and don’t engage in more responses. If a conversation does ensue, try to push that to an in-person meetup. (Again, unless you’re unsafe due to abuse or other extreme circumstances.)
Don’t look at their social media.
Watching ex-friends live their lives on social media without you is painful. This is especially true when you see them getting married, having kids, and going on incredible adventures that you thought you’d be a part of.
To maintain your mental health, set boundaries on your social media. Block them and resist the urge to view their profile. They’re gone from your life, and they should be gone from your social media channels.
Be open to giving them a chance.
When you speak to your friend, they may not be angry or annoyed, or they may be surprised! Pay attention to their reactions and responses. If they really seem remorseful and are asking for a chance to change, consider granting that. Just be aware that it still might fail. But, don’t think the conversation MUST be the end. Perhaps your relationship will just change!
Like when romantic relationships turn to “just friends” relationships, it’s possible but difficult. It often doesn’t work out. If you go from close friends to agreeable acquaintances that still run in the same circles, you may find more pain there. Or, perhaps you’ll see the reconciliation of your friendship! You have to decide if you want to take the risk or end it now.
P.S: Taking risks is OKAY! Read more about risk-taking here.
Remember that just because it ended doesn’t mean it was worthless.
When the friendship finally ends, you’ll feel a lot of things. You may feel like you wasted all those years being close to them. We’re here to tell you to cherish the good parts and value the friendship when things were healthy. Just because it wasn’t forever doesn’t mean it was worthless!
The friendship was good for you. Now it’s not. There is nothing wrong with this mindset. In fact, it’s healthy to acknowledge that things aren’t all bad or all good. You can hear more about this on The Bad Broadcast episode “BFF Breakups.” The hosts discuss how tragic it is to accept the past and reconcile the present.
Let yourself heal.
After things end, allow yourself time to heal. Realize that there’s going to be a lot of pain for a while. Also, don’t let yourself feel guilty. You are not responsible for their feelings. If the relationship wasn’t healthy for you anymore, that’s all the reason you need to leave. The Realtionsh*t podcast encourages listeners to let go of these painful feelings in this episode.
Additionally, Eileen Kelly discusses the mourning process and how to build a good support network to help you through your grief. She also says you should get back out there and make new friends to remind yourself this is all just a part of life. It’s tough, but you can get through it. Listen to Going Mental’s episode called “How To Navigate a Friendship Breakup.”
Ending friendships is a difficult part of life, but with the right strategy, you can overcome the tragedy of a friend breakup.
Navigating adult friendships isn’t easy. Plus, making new friends isn’t as simple as meeting someone on the sidewalk with a cool bike anymore. You have to work at it! Remember that you are valuable, you are interesting, and you are totally worthy of a great, healthy friendship. Get back out there, grieve your loss, and take it one day at a time! And, for support from afar, keep up with our weekly blog and connect with one of our mental health podcasters! Dear Media is here for you.