How to Sever Ties With an Old Friend

by Karen Kleinschmidt

Severing ties with a longtime friend is, at its best, extremely difficult. Marla Paul, author of "The Friendship Crisis," recommends taking a hard look at why you want to end the relationship. People grow and change through the years, so maybe with a bit of communication you and your friend can patch things up and continue on. But if you feel your friendship has become toxic or your friend has outright betrayed you, it may be impossible to avoid ending the friendship.

Consider winding your friendship down. Friendship coach and author Jan Yager suggests in "When Friendship Hurts" that you decrease the amount of information you share with your friend. Limit your phone calls and text messages with her. Avoid or increase your response time to her personal texts regarding your plans for the weekend or information about your family. She may question your mutual friends, searching for the reasons why you aren't as available to her. As your change in behavior remains concrete, she will likely realize you two have now become casual friends or acquaintances. This can help you avoid unpleasant feelings from a confrontation. However, your longtime friend could be left to deal with grief and anguish for some time over this unresolved issue.

Talk to your friend about the issues that are eating at you. Suggest giving each other personal space to think about these issues and agree on a certain amount of time to revisit your friendship. Yager says this will give your friend more time to put into her other friendships. There is a possibility that things between the two of you could work out down the road, or she may forget about reaching out to you, deciding for herself that the friendship is over.

Confront your friend and end the relationship. Be prepared for outrage, hurt feelings and despair. This can feel like a divorce to both of you. But a friend who has become too emotionally needy or who has changed drastically may never fit your friendship mold again. Friends grow apart, and people change as their lives change. A friendship that has become toxic to your health and well-being is often not worth the stress and ill feelings associated with it. You will likely find it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders when you sever ties with this person. Often, the friendship has been dying or dead for some time. Be aware, ending a longtime friendship can provoke feelings of sadness, anger and grief. Give yourself time to heal, and open yourself up to new friendships.


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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