How to Cut Manipulative Friends out of Your Life

by Karen Kleinschmidt

Manipulative friends are toxic to your health and well-being. For some time now, you've tried to see the positive traits in your manipulative friend and to communicate the issues you are experiencing regarding her manipulation. Because nothing has changed, you feel depleted, drained and fed up. After careful consideration, you have decided to cut your manipulative friend out of your life. The question you are losing sleep over is how are you going to do that?

Create distance between you and your friend. Wait a few days or a week before you return his phone calls, answer texts in an impersonal way and ignore his emails. Get involved in activities where you are less likely to run into him. Avoid personal invitations from him. If mutual friends mention that he was asking about your whereabouts or change in behavior, just tell them you have been very busy.

Say hello and make small talk if you run into her at a social function. Many people are part of a larger social circle and fear they may unravel the circle by eliminating a friend from their life, says Susan Shapiro Barash, author of "Toxic Friends." Keeping up social appearances cuts down on unnecessary drama that may be associated with terminating the relationship.

End the relationship directly. A manipulative friend is used to manipulating the situation and getting his way. In a no-nonsense, straightforward way, tell your friend you no longer wish to continue the friendship. Ask him not to call, email or text you from this point forward. If you think you can do this without feeling guilty or bullied by your friend, talk to him face to face. If not, the phone may be a better option for you. Avoid email or texting, because written words can be misconstrued or used against you.

Avoid the guilt trap. A manipulative friendship won't change unless both people change. If she doesn't do her part to become less manipulative, follow your gut, leave her behind and move forward with your life. Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of "The Friendship Fix'" and a professor of psychology, acknowledges the uplifting freedom that can result from the release of guilt, stress and being taken for granted when you let go of a toxic friendship.

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  • Avoid unnecessary gossip or turning your social circle against him. This is between the two of you.


  • When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal With Friends Who Betray, Abandon or Wound You; Jan Yager
  • Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships; Susan Shapiro Barash
  • 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.

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