Sex & Relationships

Five tips on ending a friendship

Avoid a messy breakup with these expert tips
By Rebecca Burstein
Breaking up with a friend Getty Images

Break-ups are never easy. While ending a romance is hard, dumping a friend can be even trickier. In some cases, a heart-to-heart is in order, according to Winnipeg relationship counselor Alan Vanderwater, but you may also be able to get away with gradually becoming more unavailable—guilt-free.  It all depends on the type of friend, how long you’ve been buds and how close you once were. Here’s his advice for making a clean break when you’re ready to say goodbye to these friends:

1. The childhood friend
You may have been besties in high school but that doesn’t mean you have anything in common now. She’s off doing yoga retreats while you’re trying to balance your family and office duties. You don’t need a tearful heart to heart to handle this one. Simply phase back the level of contact. “Call back or visit less frequently,” Vanderwater suggests. “You will always have the past.” Focus on that.

2. The Debbie Downer
Sure, everyone is allowed to be upset once in a while, but with this friend, the bad mood never ends. You can’t enjoy going anywhere with her and her gloominess frequently brings you down. First, make an effort to find out what’s going on with your friend (she could be going through a rough patch or depressed). “Steer her to get some help or find a more helpful place to unload,” such as a therapist, Vanderwater recommends. “Try inserting some silver linings in her clouds.” If this fails, you have permission to be too busy to talk. Vanderwater notes that until Debbie gets it figured out, you might not be the right kind of friend for her.

3. The guy friend you used to date

 You were friends before the romance, but post-breakup, your friendship has fizzled out. It just feels too weird to hang out when you used to be lovers. You’re pretty sure he senses it too. This friend deserves a conversation. “Be honest but kind,” Vanderwater advises. If you’re lost for words, say something along the lines of ‘being friends isn’t working for me.’ “Take ownership as you cut the ties.”

4. The old co-worker
Coffee breaks were fun when you worked together, but you just don’t have time for her anymore. You’re not even sure how long a solid conversation would last now. “Become unavailable, if the relationship doesn't honestly merit your time;” your workmate will get the hint. “Casual friends don’t necessarily requite notice,” Vanderwater points out.

5. The frenemy
She is judgmental, undermining and selfish. You would have parted ways months ago if she was a boyfriend. Why should a bad friendship be different? Before the split, “make sure you’ve weighed the worth of your friend carefully,” advises Vanderwater. She deserves to be warned of her behaviour before you break it off for good in case she can turn it around. “Assuming you have addressed specific issues already as they have come up, it’s time for pulling away.” If she doesn’t own up to her behaviour and you’re left feeling hurt after most interactions, avoid tension and drama by casually backing away.


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