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When Is It Time to End a Friendship?

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistDecember 19, 2018

You and your friend have enjoyed some great times together, but there’s growing distance in your friendship, maybe even tension.  Sometimes it feels like the relationship may be more hassle than it’s worth, leaving you to wonder, Is it time to cut ties and move on?

There are no clear rules for when it’s best to let go of a friendship, but answering the following questions can help you decide what’s best for you:

Do you enjoy fond memories from your relationship? Knowing you had fun together is good. However, warm feelings are a sign that there might still be enough connection to make working out the problems between you worth the effort. If the issues have grown so large that they eclipsed the good feelings a long time ago, there may not be enough connection left to save.

Is the relationship healthy or damaging to you? This can be a tricky question. Your friend might be going through a difficult period of time, making the relationship feel like more of a drain than a gift. Or, perhaps you’ve had a falling out recently. Although these situations can be difficult, true friendships hold more importance than what they offer you in a given moment. So, you may be better off working through the conflict rather than just cutting your friend out of your life.

On the other hand, you might realize that your friend is supporting and maybe even encouraging what you consider to be unhealthy behaviors or attitudes, like drinking too much or being largely focused on more materialistic values. Depending on how much you value your friend, you might decide it’s best to stand up for yourself or your values within the friendship or find new, healthier company.

Finally, there are friendships that are outright emotionally abusive or destructive. If your friend’s behaviors undermine you, typically making you feel worse about yourself, it’s time to seriously re-appraise your friendship.

Have you tried to fix what is wrong? When a valued friendship is not going well, it is probably worth trying to make it better. If nothing changes despite making serious efforts at talking about the problem and doing things differently, this might be an indication that it’s time to cut ties. Similarly, if you are not willing to put effort into improving your relationship, you might not value it enough to keep it.

Does your friendship meet different needs than it once did? Sometimes friendships don’t mean the same thing to you that they once meant, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut them out of your life. For instance, a dear friend might move or develop new interests that take them away from you. As a result, daily conversations might turn to catching up twice a year. By accepting the change in your relationship, you can adapt to its new place in your life.

By being honest with yourself about how much you value your friendship, you can decide whether it’s time to cut the ties, strengthen your connection, or accept your friendship as it is.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a well-respected psychologist, who is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of the book Insecure in Love.

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