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When Is Letting a Friendship Go the Right Thing to Do?

By Linda Ward March 07, 2023 Lifestyle

I was the friend that my close, long-time friend, let go. Fran and I met when our boys were preschool age, and in the same T-ball team. Years of meeting up for walks, coffee, and fun had come and gone. Even our husbands got along and enjoyed each other’s company, which doesn’t always happen with girlfriends.

Then my marriage ended. Fran was there to help me through the divorce and listen to my constant rants of fears and pain. After about one year of this, she watched as I entered a toxic relationship with a new man that continued my pain. She stopped communicating with me after I moved to another state with my new husband.

In some long-distance phone calls, I shared the agony of how the marriage was going downhill fast. She had done her best to advise me against marrying this man, but I wouldn’t listen. It was the worst time of my life, and I was toxic to her everyday happiness.

She let me go. I’m sure this wasn’t easy, but in reflection, I know it was necessary for her own well-being.

Friendships Are Fragile

I’ve come to understand that friendships are fragile. They need frequent attention, honesty, trust, and open communication. Friendships often change due to many factors.

If you look back on your life, you’ll remember some friends who were there for a short time or for a specific purpose at a specific time. Changing jobs, locations, or lifestyle can distance friends. To sum it up, friendship compatibility can change. Not everyone is in your life to share the whole journey.

There were years in my life where everything was negative and scary, making me a ball of fear. Fran tried to support me, but I didn’t let her. Thankfully, I’ve grown! My outlook on life is positive and upbeat.

Now, for me to be around negative, worry-bound people too often is difficult. Is there someone in your life that resembles what I was like back then?

Signs That the Friendship May Be Getting to Be Too Much

  • The feelings of getting together are not good feelings, but dread.
  • The friend is consumed with her own experiences and can bring nothing to the friendship.
  • Your other friends choose not to be with this friend and have advised you not to.
  • There’s little this friend asks or cares to know about you. They DO want you to listen to everything about them.
  • After being together you have to take time to shake off some of the comments said about you, your friends or husband, your beliefs, or something else that landed like a dart in your heart.
  • They have been dishonest with you and you know it.

Arlin Cuncid wrote this in her article titled, “How to end a Friendship”:

A friend should never ask you to compromise your integrity, go against your values or commitments, tell a lie, or hurt someone by doing something. Although it may feel like a significant loss to lose a friend, someone who no longer is making your life better does not deserve that space in your life.

Tips for You to Think About

Only you can decide when to let a friend go or if your well-being is affected by continuing to meet up with her. A friend may need to lean on you now, and later you may need to lean on her. You get to make the decision when it’s time to let go, or if you can be her support until things smooth out.

Suzanne Diggs-White states in an NBC News Article titled “How to Know if it’s time to Break Up with a Friend”:

If you’ve given the relationship a fair chance, and you are just not getting what you need from the relationship, it’s absolutely ok to move on.

My friend Jenny started out as a fun person. We would shop, chat, and have girlfriend lunches on her beautiful deck. But, in time, her true self came to the forefront. She had opinionated ideas on religion, minorities, politics, and life in general.

After meeting up, I often struggled with one or two sentences she said during our time. I had to work on letting her words go, as they were powerful darts to my heart. I tried telling her that her words were harsh, and hurtful. She would acknowledge this yet seemed unwilling or perhaps unable to change.

One time, when she gathered with my friends for a brunch, she ended up offending them with a statement or two. One of them went home and cried over a zinger that Jenny said at that brunch.

Thoughts on How to Let a Friendship Go

Be thoughtful about ending a friendship. This is NOT an easy thing to do. The following tips take guts but may be the best way to end it.

#1 Choose to do this face to face, not by text!

#2 Set the stage so the timing is right to talk.

#3 Be gentle and open.

#4 Listen to responses.

#5 Don’t just ghost someone.

Note: If you’re the one being let go, and your friend has stopped communicating, reach out and ask why. This is where your own personal growth can take place. Are there areas where you have offended her or been difficult to be around? What can you do to be a better friend?

I carefully considered the above tips, and then on a brave day, sat with Jenny in Starbucks and talked over her comments that had left me wounded. We talked it out together, and then we said goodbye. This was NOT easy. It hurt to let her go and at the same time, I knew it was what I needed to do.

One of the most courageous decisions you’ll ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your mind and soul.

—Brigitte Nicole

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Is it time for you to let a friendship go? Have you let a friend go before? How did you do it? Have you been let go by a friend? What did you learn from this experience?

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I bid a friend of over 40 years goodbye.
After much deliberation my husband and l decided to retire and leave the area where we were born.
She took no interest in our new up and coming adventure not even enquring if we had sold our house or where we were going, nothing.
Then l realised in 40 years it was all about her, her ups, downs, woes and triumphs me supporting her through thick and thin,she was never interested in my life nor ever had been.
I moved without telling her and have not heard from her since.
Good riddence l say.I am worth more than that one way street friendship.

Linda Ward

Bidding goodbye to a 40 year friendship is painful, yet in your case, healthy. You are worth more than a one way friendship!


I don’t easily cut people out of my life. I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions.
Sometimes it helps to simply take a break and gain some insight into the friendship to evaluate if you really want to continue with it.
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. It’s up to us to decide which one they are. Relationships end and we have to accept it.

Linda Ward

You’re wise. People come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime. Let’s enjoy them while they’re there.


I had a good friend who I thought would travel on this journey of separating from my husband of 41 years but she turned the cards when one day she said to me “I am compelled to have a conversation with you about our last meeting.” She was upset with me because I wasn’t going to change! I wasn’t changing fast enough for her! I had over 40 years of “unlearning” to do and she was disappointed in me:(. I decided then and there that this friend would not be there for me when the challenges got too much for me. It was a sad reality for me. After that, she did take me out for lunch but I don’t count her as part of my inner circle anymore:(. And this friend and I at one point were going to live together forever!!! Sadly, there are friends who think they are being a good friends but when you go through the messy stuff, decide it’s too hard for them and pull back. I think this friend didn’t understand that I needed some patience and time:(

Linda Ward

Sara, It’s true. The messy stuff can be too much to handle for even long time friendships. I hope you have others in your inner circle who are there for you. I like what IRB said in her comment, some friends are there for a reason, season or a lifetime. Knowing this is helpful.

Vicki Smith

I had to let a good friend go. As we got older, she became very negative and toxic. She was very opinionated to the point of being downright mean. I started dreading any type of communication with her…even to the point of hiding her FB posts. We had absolutely nothing in common anymore. I have no regrets about letting that friendship go.

Pamela Lucido

I’m afraid I did just ghost someone! She was toxic and cruel and bad mouthed me behind by back amongst other things. I thought she didn’t deserve an explanation so I just blocked her from everywhere. 😳 I don’t regret it.


I also ghosted someone. Our meetups began to leave me feeling bad about myself and my life because hers was over the top crazy busy and supposedly tons of fun. Every weekend was a party. Then she’d ask about my weekend. My husband and I were busy raising kids, with no time for parties. If I had tried to talk with her about this, she would not have taken it well. I was not up for a face to face conflict. I’m an introvert. I regret that I know it hurt her a little. But I don’t regret my quiet approach one bit.

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The Author

Linda Ward is a Writer and Life Coach living in Minnesota. She specializes in helping mature women find everyday happiness and a satisfying life. She zeroes in on life after divorce, retirement transitions, and finding courage no matter what the circumstances. Her inspiring new eBook is called, Crazy Simple Steps to Feeling Happier. Linda’s Professional background is Social Work and Counseling.

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