The Struggle With Ending Friendships

Breaking up sucks—and so does moving on from ex’s. And while these topics are well documented in advice columns and we know that Sex & the City and a #revengebody help mend, the conversation surrounding breaking up with friends is fairly muted. At least it was for me during my 20s when this transition period was rough. Even though I was going through so much personal change and figuring out who I wanted to be in life, my circle of friends didn’t evolve. And when I did decide to move on from certain friendships, how was I supposed to handle that type of breakup?

I was clinging onto childhood and college friendships because it was who I was used to spending my time with. I was hanging out with friends who were into different things than me just because it was comfortable.

It took lots of internal struggle and honesty to move on from some of these people. Most importantly, I had to realize that just like relationships with love interests, friends fall out of love too—and that’s OK!

You’re not always going to be into the same things as people you once shared all your secrets with. We all evolve, and it’s important to touch base with yourself and make sure you’re spending time in relationships that feel natural and leave you feeling happy.

I found that investing my time in fewer, more authentic relationships as opposed to a bunch of somewhat fake acquaintances—even when there was no bad blood—made me feel more at ease. No longer did I have the guilt when I bailed on people I didn’t want to hang with, or the weight of having to reach out just to stay in touch.

I still sometimes feel bummed when I think of a friend who I’m no longer close with, but I try to remember that we’re both doing what makes us uniquely happy. I’m hoping that as I continue to mature, I’m able to feel even more confident in leaving friendships that aren’t right anymore.

Has anyone else struggled with ending friendships? How have you handled it? I’d love to know!

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  1. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately as there’s a few friends that I really haven’t seen as much over the past year that I was super close with a few years back. It’s sad but it’s true, you really grow apart from people but it’s okay and I’m glad I’m not the only one x

  2. It is actually not easy. I struggled a few times along the way but through those struggles, I get to know myself better. The easiest was when few just quietly exit the friendship like some things are better left unsaid. Though, I had been on the other end when a good friend decided to leave the friendship and I felt terrible. I talked to her eventually and got it off my chest. We remain good friends but we just don’t spend as much occasions together anymore.

  3. I totally agree with you on the amount of advice out there – it really sucks! I found all of this hardest when I was at uni. There was masses of pressure to be that girl with tonnes of friends, but I’m such an introvert that I just made myself unhappy by forcing myself to spend time with people I didn’t even really like, and in the end it made me lose out on friendships I really did want

    Steph –

  4. With some friends, one in particular I can remember, it was really hard. We actually “broke up” then “got back together” a few times, but after the last time, I realized that the high drama of our friendship was not something I wanted or needed–I had no drama whatsoever with any of my other friends!–and we finally called it quits for good. I still get sad when I think about her because she did have good qualities that I miss, but I know I’m ultimately better off.

    With other friends, mostly the ones I knew in high school, it’s been more a natural growing apart due to a lack of shared interests, so when I think about them or see their posts on social media, I smile and think how happy I am that they’re doing well, but know if we saw each other now we’d probably have pretty much nothing to talk about except our memories.

  5. I agree, you hardly find anything written about breaking up with girlfriends,and mostly how to deal with the feeling of guilt afterwards, because it’s not easy breaking up with a friend you’ve known for 10 years…But the truth is, when you know this is the right thing to do for yourself, you feel so relieved afterwards, but still a bit sad… if you have a heart:)
    So, should you feel guilty?? This is the only thing that I can’t figure out…

  6. I have, quite a few times. Most friendships just fizzle out and without solid reasons. I’ve moved schools thrice in grade school. No one from the point in my life stuck. As for bonds made in high school, I don’t know – I was itching to get done with high school, maybe I just didn’t invest enough of myself. I was quite friendly during college, and it must be because it’s when I really started to figure myself out so I have a few close friends from then that I still get in touch with. Same with people I meet from work.

    I can only remember one messy (NASTY) friend breakup. And that’s over an incident which led me to completely lose trust in her. I got over it pretty quickly. I think, for me, as I got older I just learned to accept that some relationships are meant to end. This is not to say that I view new friendships with cynicism or pessimism. I still do my fair share of work in making relationships work. It’s just an underlying truth that I’ve come to terms with.

  7. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I like to think of living life along a continuum. There are ebbs and flows. Ive looked at Facebook pages for people I knew from high school who seem to only be in Facebook photos exclusively today with people they’ve known since kindergarten. I must say I’m puzzled. Is their friendship really that enduring? Did they leave for college but not make one single close friend? The optics of it are deceiving.

    Another thing that will hit you, if it hasn’t already Geri, is the mental tabulation you will do when you look through photos from your wedding and see who came. Guest lists are a reflection of who is in your life at that point in time. One of my best friends came into my life only 12 weeks before I got married, so she wasn’t even at my wedding. If I got married today, she would have been in my wedding. Four years later, she hosted my baby shower. I’ve lost touch with many of my guests–but am now on a daily group chat with the additional people I didn’t even know when I got married who know all about my daily tribulations and get a healthy dose of photos of my kid. Some of what you are describing is on par for the course due to married life. (The married life gives you cover to move on…)

  8. I totally just went through this recently with a couple girls who I didn’t feel helped me to be my best self! Had such a hard time coming to terms with the fact that it’s ok to let go of toxic relationships, not limited to romantic ones, but I’m so much happier now that I dealt with them!!

  9. This has been hard for me as well. In the last year I’ve separated myself from my 2 closest, oldest college friends. One has a serious drinking/drug problem, and the other is manipulative and the friendship became very one-sided. It’s especially hard for me this week, as I’ll be seeing the latter at a mutual friend’s wedding. I realized that I was putting a lot more energy these friendships than I was getting in return. Both friends expected me to be on their agenda at all times, and when I changed plans it was “unacceptable” to them. I was only considered their friend when I was doing exactly what they wanted, when they wanted. It’s been a lonely year so far, but with a lot of positives. I’ve since been offered my dream job, and started planning a family with my husband. I turned 35 this year, and I’m glad to say I’ve simplified my life as much as possible, and I’m working towards ridding myself of all bad habits. It can be hard ending friendships in that they tend to bash you to other mutual friends, but I guess it’s just collateral damage, and if people can’t form their own opinions of you, I guess they’re not a real friend anyway.

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