Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor, Symmetry Counseling

As you move through the stages of life, there may be friends you just seem to have outgrown. These are the friends who hurt you, make you feel bad about yourself, constantly complain, only talk about themselves, bring you down, or consume too much of your time and energy. While you may be aware this friend is not healthy for you the most difficult part of wanting to break up with a friend is actually following through with it. You may begin to feel overwhelmed by or afraid of the idea of letting go of someone who has potentially been a part of your life for years, even if it is the best thing for you. How do you then let go of a toxic friendship in a healthy and productive manner? While it isn’t comfortable or easy, there are some healthy ways to cut ties with a friend that are less painful and more effective. Below are some tips to break up with your friend with dignity and grace.

Think It Through

It is important to give breaking up with your friend some serious thought before acting on it. Once you begin to initiate cutting ties, it can be difficult to go back. You may want to consider writing down the reasons why you think breaking up is the best decision as well as what the alternatives might be. Many friendships can fade out just by creating some space and spending less time together. Sometimes friendships don’t have to be all or nothing, but when they do, take some time to make sure it is what is best for you.

Offer an Explanation

Once you have made the decision to split with this friend, try to find a time to meet with them in person to have a conversation about your friendship. Offer them a very kind and thought out explanation as to why you feel this is best for both of you. If you feel like you have different values or interests, take responsibility for it so they don’t feel they are to blame. You can use statements such as “I don’t think I can be the friend you need me to be right now” or “I truly care about you but don’t think we share the same values.”

Stand Up For Yourself

There may also be times when a friend has hurt you or stabbed you in the back. When this dynamic plays out, it is crucial that you stand up for yourself. Be honest and open about why you feel hurt and give your friend the benefit of the doubt if possible. If you feel the relationship is unable to be saved, explain why you feel that way as well. Open communication leaves both individuals with a better understanding of the dissolution of the friendship rather than engaging in unnecessary gossip and avoiding.

Leave it Open

Being open and offering an explanation leaves the door open for possibly rekindling the friendship in the future. As you make your way through some of the discussions, remember that the break up should feel good for the both of you. Blaming and aggression may result in closing a door to a friendship you wish you hadn’t. Try to remain cordial and open in order to maintain peace and dignity between the two of you as well as within your group of friends. It will make it easier for you in the future.

If you are considering breaking up with a friend and would like some more guidance, it may be helpful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to schedule an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!