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How to Know When to Walk Away from a Friendship

by Karen Kleinschmidt, studioD

Women in their thirties and beyond often find themselves juggling family and work while struggling to take care of their own personal needs. Marla Paul, author of "The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore," believes that women may carry guilt when they can't keep up with the women in their lives the way they did in the past. Friendships often take a temporary backseat to the many transitions a woman goes through. Women may find it difficult to keep up with the demands of a new baby, job, house or marriage while keeping the calendar open for a girls night out. They may choose to let go of a friendship that no longer works for them, or they may find that they are the ones being let go. This can be extremely difficult for both parties.

Stay or Go?

A long history with a friend can make the decision to call it quits tough.

Take a hard look at the amount of time invested in the friendship. Is this a pal you grew up with? Has she been through thick and thin with you but is having difficulty accepting changes in your life? Although you may be perfectly happy with the changes, put yourself in her shoes and take a look at the situation from her perspective. You may be pleasantly surprised, understanding and empathic.

Determine what is not working in the friendship. Did your friend do something hurtful? Have you done your part to talk it out and give her the chance to make amends? Do you want to make amends? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if you want to continue your friendship. Psychologist and author Judith Sills, Ph.D., embraces the idea that friendships can bounce back if given the appropriate time and space. People grow and change, and your friendship could heal itself if given the chance.

Make a list of the positive aspects of your friendship and a list of the negative. Compare the two lists. Determine if the negative traits are ongoing. Has your friend always been depressing and annoying? Do you come away from get-togethers feeling drained? You might be are at a point in your friendship where you can't put up with it any longer. On the other hand, if you felt connected and generally happy visiting with your friend in the past, you owe it to the both of you to find out what's changed. Maybe your friend is going through a rough spot and is taking her problems out on you. Although you may want to stop that from happening if it is making you unhappy, you may still wish to continue the friendship.

Follow your gut. Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of "The Friendship Fix" and a professor of psychology, believes that women may hold onto relationships out of guilt. Putting their needs ahead of another person's can be difficult and uncomfortable. If you have outgrown the relationship, it is no longer a positive influence in your life and you are unable to repair it, you may decide that letting it go is the only way to go. You deserve to be happy too.


  • Before making the final decision, give yourself time alone, away from your friend, to think about it. Your friend doesn't have to be part of the decision-making process.


  • The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore; Marla Paul
  • The Comfort Trap (or, What if You're Riding a Dead Horse?): ; Judith Sills
  • The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing and Keeping Up with Your Friends; Andrea Bonior

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

Photo Credits

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