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How to End a Friendship Without Confrontation

by Elise Wile

You've been friends since high school, but recently you've begun to realize that you share very few of the same values. You don't want to hurt your friend by simply telling her you don't want to be friends anymore, yet you'd rather not invest any more of your time in the relationship. Ending a friendship without confrontation can sometimes be the most compassionate way to move on.

Allow the friendship to "fade away" by not initiating further contact, recommends psychologist and friendship expert Irene Levine. Often, there is nothing to be gained by confronting a friend. Whether you've merely grown apart or she's been dishonest, the kindest course of action is sometimes to allow the friendship to die from neglect. This might entail not returning or initiating casual texts or declining social invitations.

Frame any discussions about the matter in terms of yourself, not her. Let her know that you have other things going on that are forcing you to have to take a step back from the friendship if the matter comes up, advises Levine, in an article for "Psychology Today."

Suggest a "cooling-off period," recommends author Jan Yager in "When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal With Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You." You might agree to hold off calling one another or inviting each other to events for a couple of months. Hopefully, a break from the friendship will lead to a nondramatic ending.

Write a thoughtful letter or email if your friend doesn't get your subtle hints. Let your friend know that you have appreciated the good times you have had with her. Emphasize that it is the interactions in the friendship that have bothered you, rather than making statements that she could construe as an attack on her personally. If you want to decrease the chance of having future discussions about the matter, a letter is a better choice than an email, which is easier to reply to.

Avoid attending activities with mutual friends until the friendship has been over for a few months. This will give you both a chance to breathe and get over any lingering animosity. You needn't be a hermit, but you might consider getting together with individual friends so the two of you aren't thrown into a social situation together when you are trying to end the friendship and recover from your loss.

Tip

  • If the friendship has been valuable to you both for many years, consider offering the closure that a face-to-face conversation can provide. It will be uncomfortable, but it might prove to be the greater kindness in the end.

Warning

  • Avoiding talking about your ended friendship to other friends. Word might get back to your former friend about your grievances, causing unnecessary hurt feelings.

References

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

Photo Credits

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