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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 recently ended a 25 year “friendship”. I’ll preface this by saying…I know I’m not perfect. This woman was very sarcastic, loud, and could be very rude at times. I put up with the hurtful comments for years but noticed I was starting to do the same thing just to give it back to her. I did not want to be like that. I have listened to her constant complaints (and honestly didn’t mind). I had mentioned more than once how my husband and I are always driving over to their house (20 minutes away). We drove by to talk with distance twice during COVID and most times when we met to go to a restaurant, we parked at their house because it was in the right direction. We had to have a tour of her garden and yard everytime. However, they never bothered to make the effort to stop by our house unless it was a dinner invitation. She dropped an anniversary card in our mailbox, took off and proceeded to call and tell me to check the mailbox. For my birthday card, she called me from the driveway to come out and get it. The straw that broke the camels back was when she did not attend my sisters funeral. I did not want her to attend the wake as she would be driving home in the dark. I did, however, expect her after decades of friendship to attend the funeral. This is a woman who prides herself on never stopping or sitting around the house. I know this is not the “right way” to look at this but I attended her son’s wake and funeral and her father’s wake and funeral. I was beyond hurt. My husband has not liked her for years and put up with her for my sake. I found it stressful when they were together. My husband is a very patient man but I was still afraid she would put him over the edge with her mouth or behavior. I took the cowards way out and texted her that I needed a break from the relationship and told her the major reason (the funeral). She came back saying that I told her not to go (not exactly accurate). I realized there was “no winning” with her and blocked her. I have felt a sense of peace since doing this. . I hope that continues and I hope I don’t regret it over time. I think I was just exhausted by her and tired of her not making the effort to visit.


I feel sad reading everyone’s comments and seeing people voting for them in support of their broken friendships. That’s because it says to me that it’s so prevalent. It begs the question, why? We’re encouraged to go out and make new friends as we age, but these comments scare me from trying. I have a friend who is about 10 years younger than me and who I met 38 years ago at work. She has 2 lovely young adult children, my husband and I had none. She is a renaissance woman brilliant and so wise. She was goth, I was Lands’ End…J.Jill now 😉. She is more a sister to me than my biological ones. And we laugh till we cry whenever we talk on the phone. Not much time to see each other. That’s a precious friendship I expect to last till my time is done here. Years would pass and each time we’d reach out to one another months or sometimes a year apart, it’s as if we were never separated by so much time. Maybe instead of trying to befriend people like us, the secret is to befriend someone unlike us. Place less weight on pursuing a friendship with someone who just mirrors us. When I think about my terminated friendships, maybe they didn’t work at specific times in my life because what I thought I didn’t like about the other person really was what I didn’t like about myself in that friendship. Thanks to all of you for inspiring me think through this!


Interesting to see that our comments makes you scared to make new friends. Friends come and go for various reasons, seasons or whatever. I have my girlfriends that I made since our elementary school days! We are all turning 65 years old and we still can laugh and cry together!! Girl friends are uniquely special and when you find one that can go thru the happy and rough times, you are blessed.


I didn’t mention my three closet longtime friends died. Looking for new girlfriends at this age is difficult. And the one I have as I mentioned has a lifestyle that includes running her own business and being involved with her children’s lives. She’s too busy to hang out, but the quality of our relationship is extraordinary. What I think is interesting is those who had close friends who they at one time, over a long period of time, cherished and years later they’re no more. It says to me there are many people who hang on for the wrong reasons. The loss is not only on the culprits but on the ones who hang on too long. You and I are (was) blessed, but so many respondents are expressing they devoted years in long friendships to suddenly hit a wall. You and I must have made the right friendships but sadly mine have passed on. I would like to meet someone of my age, but from what I’m reading it may be the tendency that women of our age have been disappointed by or maybe even felt spurned by others who simply aren’t decent people. I wonder if you didn’t make friends years ago and nurture them, and they you, your odds of finding an unconditional friendship with someone of your age are not good. That’s what scares me.


I wish this article had been written in 2021 when I was going through a difficult time with a friend of over 30 years.
She said things all the time that hurt me, that I would ignore out of compassion for her.
When she had tears and drama, I was her listening ear and was there for her. But she couldn’t reciprocate and turned toxic.
We broke the relationship-I think I expected more than she could give. Though she apologized in a general way(blamed her behavior on COVID), I responded to say I forgave her but we should perhaps take a break from one another for a month. We used to get together every week, we corresponded nearly daily, we traveled together. I thought she would be a forever friend. But I now realize she was never capable of being a real friend. I think she tried her best, but she is self-destructive. My husband tried to tell me she wasn’t good for me.
Since our last emails in 2021, we haven’t corresponded. I am relieved and glad she is out of my life. If that’s ghosting, then it worked for me. I didn’t want to say hurtful things, nor did I want to hear any more hurtful words from her. Though we broke our friendship together, I don’t think all messes are fixable. I wish her the best, but I don’t want her in my life. I could never trust her again.


I had a friend of 35 years. We moved to different states but kept in touch. She would call to complain about her abusive husband. She also grew into some far right radical opinions. I thought about ending it, but 2 weeks ago she passed from a heart attack. Although I was sad, I was relieved that no longer had to bite me tongue. My husband tells me, “don’t make someone your priority when you are only their option”. I have 2 other old friends that fit this; I’m going to let go, & I’m certain they won’t even notice.

Carol Peacock

I have never ghosted any one- they have to ghost me first. I try to keep my door always open for those who truly do want me in my life and are willing to respect certain boundaries. I do want to be an inclusive, loving person, but I will not put up with abuse. If a “friend” does or says something that makes me feel down , I will give her 3 chances, and then we have the talk. Sometimes you end up with a life long friend after “the talk”.

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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