7 Signs It’s Time To Break Up With A Friend

The most tragic and hurtful losses in my life have been break-ups with a friend. Losing a fella, although painful in its own right, is nothing compared to losing a friend. You expect them to always be there, but sometimes shit, drama or even just outgrowing one another screws it all up. I may have moved on from the men in my life, but it’s my former friends, I mourn the loss of on a daily basis. In the simplest and less painful way to put it: sometimes people just drift apart.

In sexual relationships, there’s almost an understanding that sometimes it won’t work out. I’m not assuming that all love is doomed, but I guess I just never thought that losing a friend, a person with whom there was was no sexual complication, drama or otherwise, was somehow an eternal bond. But sometimes it’s not; sometimes there’s a major falling out similar to that of a relationship with a significant other, or there’s a distance, literally a space that interrupts it all, or one day, after years of knowing someone, you realize it’s over.

My oldest friend in the world, Erin, whom I knew since preschool, and then off and on over the years, and I were never meant to be friends as an adult. And although I never mourned that loss because it was so much based on a past I barely remember, it’s a perfect example that change is inevitable in same cases.

As a New Yorker, and one who is a transplant, as many of us are, it’s hard to find and maintain friendships. So many people are out for themselves — not selfishly, but simply just to get by financially so they can live here and fulfill their dreams. I get that; I understand it perfectly. However, after living here for nine, going on 10 years, I’ve seen many friends come and go. Not because there was an absurd falling out, but sometimes friendship ceases and that love you had for them, although always there under the surface, superficially dies because we all have our own directions and goals we need to achieve.

I know friend loss is not exclusive to NYC-living. It happens the world over. So after a week of contemplating the topic and realizing with whom I plan to keep contact and those whom I’ve decided to abandon just because they quit making an effort, I thought it only appropriate to point out signs that we sometimes ignore, because as I said, losing a friend, is actually quite detrimental to the soul. I’d give up every man I’ve ever loved to have some of my female friends back. And I say that without even the slightest hesitation or reservation. But as I said earlier, sometimes people just drift apart, so instead of enduring the agony, sometimes it’s best to “nip it in the bud,” as they say.


Photo: Madame Noire

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    • len132

      I’ve had some pretty terrible friend breakups. I’m still getting over the last one. She was the first person I met when I started undergraduate. We were really close, but she is a very introverted person, and I was becoming more of an extrovert. I wanted a big group of friends, she wanted to be besties.

      I have to admit that I did not handle it well. I should have just sat down with her and talked it over, but instead I went into avoidance mode. I think one of the things I feel the most shame about is how I just stopped making plans with her. I guess I just thought that if I told her how I felt (that we were friends, but not the best of friends) that we wouldn’t be friends at all. So instead I torpedoed the whole thing by hiding. So after three years, we just blew up at each other. She brought up things from years ago, issues I thought had been settled. I was entirely too dramatic about things… It’s just awful. In a way, it was really like an imploding relationship, in that she was just more committed, while I thought we had grown apart.

      TL;DR- point is, friend breakups suck.

    • Lemona

      For two solid years after the falling out with my former best friend I dreamed about her. She was understandably upset about some changes I made in my life due to a new (and awesome) dude; if she hadn’t talked shit about me to everyone we knew, I think we could have rebooted the friendship. Almost every night for two years –no one but a best friend causes that.

      • Lemona

        PS –Thanks for this piece, Amanda. You’re spot on with these 7 signs. I’m gonna keep these in mind for monitoring the health of future friendships.

    • Sammie Son

      How is that you always manage to write the articles I desperately need to read right around the times when I need to read them?

      As you know, I’ve two very painful best-friend-breakups in the past six months (three if you count the ex-boyfriend but…nahhh). It aches and I can’t stop thinking about the most recent one. And yet, I guess I didn’t realize how many of the points you brought up here were things that were going on between us and I didn’t even realize it…I mean, the crazy girl I used to be best friends with DEFINITELY fulfilled all the requirements for a necessary friend-end, but even this most recent on…I guess I just overlooked those things even though they made me feel shitty.

      Anyways, I’m just really glad you wrote this. It makes a hell of a lot o’ sense.

      • Amanda Chatel

        I miss you Sammie Son.

      • Sam

        I am going to try very much to move down there on the 1st of August. :) I will buy you a drink this time and also a doughnut.

      • Amanda Chatel

        YEAH! We’ll be back right about the same time!

    • holleeta

      And this is why my sister is my best friend.

      I really only have one girl friend that I trust and speak with on a daily basis, and our mothers are best friends as well. Everyone else I’ve picked up along the way has either betrayed me or just been too selfish or too stupid for me to tolerate anymore.

      Sometimes I think I have high standards but I need a friend who is intellectually curious and also down to talk about ANY subject. So many people are still so reserved.

    • mae

      Never commented before, but this article really hits home. When I moved to AZ 12 years ago during middle school I knew nobody. The first friend I made stayed with me through everything, and we almost made it through to our second year of college together. But, she started to change. And I was really worried about her. We just imploded, like another commenter said, and it’s been about…3 or 4 years since. I still miss her. I still think about calling, maybe trying to patch things up. I still dream about her. I wonder if we would be able to move past this huge space of “who did what wrong.” I don’t know.

    • Maria

      It’s time to break up with a friend when said friend starts to make up people who are better friends than you are. When they invent fatal diseases to have you on their side in their fights with their partner. When they become best friends with your childhood bully and get mad a you for not wanting to join the party.

      I haven’t spoken to my former best friend for three years now. Maybe I was just too weak to deal with her (clinical?) insanity, but the point when she MADE UP a rape assault on her and MADE UP some guy who rescued her to make her friends feel bad was just too scary.

    • M

      Friend break-ups are awful. I maintained my friendship with my former best friend for years, despite the fact that she read my personal e-mails multiple times, accused me of trying to date the guy I set her up with, tried to ban my other best friend from visiting our house, threw me a bachelorette party where she became drunkenly furious at another guest and refused to go out (then started to yell at me for forgetting the card she got me), gave a MOH speech where everyone in the room thought she made it sound like she “let” me have my husband, and screamed at me that I couldn’t understand her work situation because I was “just a secretary (i’m not a secretary in the slightest).”

      But the thing that made me cut her loose? When she started to belittle my husband. Sometimes you can’t see how awful a person is until they do something to someone you love.

      When her dad became terminally ill (which I discovered through bad friend symptom above), I reached out to her, only to get a scorching e-mail back that was illogical and crazy as the rest of her antics. Ahhh…at least I have validation that we had officially outgrown each other.