How to end a friendship


Let's face it, not every friendship is meant to last forever. But you can de-friend another person with a bit of tact. Here's Melissa Kirsch, author of The Girl's Guide to Absolutely Everything, with some tips on how to end a friendship.

How to end a friendship
  • It's time to end a friendship when you feel that person hurts you more than helps you.
  • If there is no specific incident or issue to address within the friendship you want to end, a respectful way to walk away is what Melissa calls the "slow fade-out." Taper off speaking or making plans with the friend gradually.
  • If the friend calls you out on the "de-friending," you don't have to lie. But if you think she would feel better thinking "you've been busy", then try to avoid hurting her feelings.
  • If you are the one being dumped, unless there is something you should apologize for, there is probably not much you can do. Like a romantic relationship, you don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you.
  • If you change your mind and want the friend you dumped back, try sending an email rather than calling. It takes the on-the-spot pressure off and allows the friend to think about it. And if there is no response, you know the answer.

KATRINA: I'm Katrina Szish for Let's face it. Some friendships are not made to last forever. Here to tell us how to dump a friend is Melissa Kirsch, the author of The Girl's Guide to Absolutely Everything. Thanks for joining us Melissa.

MELISSA: Thanks for having me.

KATRINA: How do you decide that it's time to end a friendship?

MELISSA: When a friend starts to feel like she's on your case load rather than actually a friend, then it might be time. When somebody's constantly hurting your feelings or constantly breaking plans, you constantly walk away from them with that feeling like...I don't feel so great, I don't know what happened there, but I don't feel good about this anymore. then it might be time to admit that the friendship has sort of lived out its life and its time to end it.

KATRINA: And then how do you break the news to your friend?

MELISSA: I'm a big fan of the slow fade-out because you know unlike romantic relationships where you have a talk about us and you break things off and you divide the stuff. With a friend it's a little more delicate. You end having coffee or drinks with them without a promise of getting together again. You taper off the emails. You taper off the correspondence. That way you're being respectful, you're being graceful and you're leaving the door open actually for re-friending them for some time in the future.

KATRINA: What if they call you on the fact that they're being de-friended. They say I'm getting the feeling that you're blowing me off. Why aren't you calling me...what if they put you on the spot?

MELISSA: You know, I'm not a big fan of lying, so if someone has hurt your feelings or done you wrong, then there's nothing wrong with actually telling it to her face. Now you can say I've just been really busy, work's gotten really busy, something's gotten really busy. I'm not ignoring you...and then continue to ignore them. It's a little two-faced, but if you're trying to save somebody's feelings, then I think it's okay.

KATRINA: What do you do if you are the one that is being de-friended and you really don't want to lose that friend and you realize that maybe you have been being not so friendly to them. How do you reverse the situation and try to get that friend to keep you?

MELISSA: You know there's nothing you can do. If somebody wants to break up with you, just like a romantic relationship, you don't want to stay with them. If somebody doesn't want to be your friend anymore it can be very difficult to sort of acknowledge that you've done something wrong. You apologize for it. But sometimes it happens that you know you're just not right for each other anymore. You're going different places in your life; you have sort of a sandbar in the relationship. Take some time to mourn it and to say you know I'm sad that we're not friends anymore, but let it go and forgive yourself and say I may never know what caused this person to stop wanting to be friends with me but, I let it go and I wish them well.

KATRINA: Okay and the last question--If you de-friend someone, but then you think maybe this person is worth re-friending. What is a little bit of advice you can give us on how to pull that off?

MELISSA: I prefer an email because picking up the phone and calling someone really puts them on the spot. So approaching the subject through an email saying, you know, I've been thinking about you and I'd like to get together is really a respectful way to ask someone if they want to be your friend again and gives them the opportunity to say no by not writing back.

KATRINA: Okay Melissa Kirsch on the art of friendship. Thank you.

meet theexpert
  • Melissa Kirsch

    Melissa Kirsch Author, The Girl's Guide To Absolutely Everything Melissa Kirsch is the author of The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything (Workman, 2007). She has been writing professionally for and about young women since 1998, when she was an editor at one of the first sites for girls on the Web. more about this expert »

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