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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 learned several years ago while recuperating from a surgery, who my true friends were. It was a real eye opener.

Amber Parrish

I have unfortunately had way too many bad friendships in disguise. I’ve suffered from girls who I was close with for years copying me like trying to be me Jealousy unsupportiveness possessiveness, competing or just downright problematic. I meet my boyfriend in 2020 and as soon as me and him started to get more serious more issues arise. My boyfriend was able to help me pull away from all those toxic friendships, behaviors, and situations and a lot of my “friends” wasn’t happy due to the lack of attention they weren’t receiving from me due to my new relationship. It’s been 5 girls in just 2022 and 1 in 2023 I believe I have finally got all those women out my life who brought chaos and other bad things intentional or not. I was the nice friend who always said yes who put my friends’ feelings before my own I also was the push over at times and I was always cheering my friends on with whatever it was, but I didn’t get this same energy in return. I believe God brought my amazing boyfriend to me for a lot of reasons but one reason being to help me get away from things that was no longer serving me and that wasn’t serving me in the first place. I have a heart of gold and I gave 10000 chances to all 5 girls to the point they honestly walked themselves out of my life. It was all just one thing that broke the camel back with these women and that’s when I said enough is enough, I’m not dealing with this anymore and I don’t need you all in my life. I’ve been so happy since a huge burden lifted for sure.


My situation is quite different. Over fifty years ago, my fiancé enjoyed a work friend often…golfing most weekends, meals out, etc. I was away at college for my senior year before we married. His friend married and we enjoyed some activities as couples, while the guy friendship continued. Several years passed with infrequent casual activities. They were visiting in our home and we shared that we were expecting our first child. Never heard a word from her after that weekend and, not surprisingly, the guys drifted apart. They divorced about 3 years later. The twist in my story…she moved to a nearby town over 20+ years ago. Her second husband died in 2016. During these years neither of us made any attempt to connect.
Within the last year, she left her lifelong faith and began attending our church. She actually joined our congregation last fall. She repeatedly tells everyone what great friends we were and how thrilled she is to have “found” me again. While I am polite, I do not wish to resume a friendship with her. Members refer to her as “your friend” and presume that we are the wonderful friends she proclaims to one and all. When I am caught in a conversation with her, she asks probing questions about our family, lives, etc. I have a strong group of both close and extended friendships I have treasured over the 50+ years in our town. It is very awkward that she continually refers to me as a dear friend. Help! What does she want? How do I move forward?

Linda Ward

It might be helpful to you when someone mentions her as your close friend, or friend of yours, you gently and kindly say, oh yes, my acquaintance, Suzie (or whatever her name is).
Try to let it go. As time goes on, your friends and church group will see how the relationship truly is. Switching the subject, ignoring, and mentally preparing yourself to not letting this irritate you will help.


Thank you for sharing your perspective and suggestions. ZiZi

Jan J

I have thought much about friendships. I’m dismayed I have so few lasting friends and that they are elderly now. Who knows how much longer my friend, who I’ve known for 45 years, will be alive? The other friend has Alzheimer’s and barely knows who I am, we were best friends for 20 years. Making new friends is difficult, you can’t replace the long history. Also I find that most people don’t have much insight and also lack curiosity or interest in me – if she talks for hours about herself and this happens every time we speak, I give up if she shows no interest in learning about me. I have dropped a couple friends who were extraordinarily mean-spirited, I guess I ghosted them, they brought that on themselves. Of the few remaining friends I have, I’ve grown more tolerant of small slights and misunderstandings. I can’t lose another friend.

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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