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How to End a Friendship Without Hurting Them

by Tamara Runzel, studioD

Some friendships last forever, while others come to a point where it’s time to call it quits. Maybe you find you have nothing in common anymore now that you're at different points in your lives than when the friendship started. Maybe your friend has a negative attitude that brings you down, or maybe he has a negative influence on your work or family life. Regardless of the reason, ending the friendship without hurting your friend is tough. Your approach to ending the relationship depends on the seriousness of your friendship.

Evaluate the friendship before you make a clean break, recommends Dara Adeeyo in an article for “Cosmopolitan.” Maybe you just need a break or less time together, not a complete end to the relationship.

Think about the consequences of ending the friendship, suggests Kenneth Suna in “Primer.” Ending the friendship might mean the loss of mutual friends or favorite hangouts.

Assess your reasons for ending the friendship. Maybe there is one thing about your friend that bothers you. It might be worth overlooking that one thing or talking to your friend and giving her the chance to change, recommends Dr. Gail Saltz in an article for Today.com.

Distance yourself from your friend if you decide to end the friendship and it’s not a strong one, writes Alex Williams in a January 2012 article for the "New York Times." Don’t return texts or suggest hanging out. Start spending time with other friends, recommends David Treybig, writing for VerticalThought. In an article for the NYU Langone Medical Center, Lain Chroust Ehmann points out that this approach and a lack of honesty can sometimes leave the friend wondering if something is wrong without realizing your intentions.

Set up a time to talk with your friend if it’s a serious relationship. A face-to-face conversation is the best option, but a letter or email might also work, notes Williams in the "New York Times."

Explain why the friendship isn’t working for you, recommends Amy Gray in a May 2013 article for The Age. Use “I” statements to avoid placing blame on your friend and making him defensive. For example, you might say, “I need more time for my family and can’t keep spending time with you.”

Suggest to your friend a time of separation and explain that after that time, you will reevaluate the friendship, recommends Dr. Jan Yager in the "New York Times" article. During this "cooling off" period, your friend might invest time in other relationships and forget about your friendship.

About the Author

Tamara Runzel has been writing military, parenting, family and relationship articles since 2008. Runzel started in television news, followed by education before deciding to be a stay at home mom. Her articles have appeared in military publications as well as numerous online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from University of the Pacific.

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