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Ending a Long Term Friendship

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 3 9

Just because you share a past, it does not mean you have to share a future.

There is a song that Girl Scouts sing at the end of every meeting:

Make new friends,
But keep the old,
One is silver
And the other’s gold.

A circle is round.
It has no end.
That’s how long I want to be your friend.

Ending a Long Term Friendship
While it is true that old friendships are some of the ones we cherish the most, there may come a time in your life when it is absolutely necessary for your own benefit to end it.

Defining a Long Term Friendship

How long is long term? For one thing, it depends on how old you are. A teenager may have a best friend throughout her four years of high school and that is almost a quarter of her life, while an older person may have a friendship that spans twenty years and that is half her life.

My Nana had a friend that she met while they were in kindergarten. Their friendship lasted over 85 years, or 95% of her life.

Ages and Stages of Friendship

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. 

Sometimes you become friends with a person during a certain stage of your life. For example, young motherhood is a time when many women connect over baby bottles, sippy cups, and first steps. Your bond lasts as long as your kids are together and you are able to find time to go to the park, have play dates, or grab a cup of coffee while your young ones are in preschool.

That period of five or so years ends when your children attend different elementary schools and many mothers return to the work force. Even those who are still at home have other interests, such as the elementary school PTA or finding time to pursue a new hobby. These are your friends for a season.

Sometimes life gives you a challenge you would rather not have. Your spouse dies, your daughter develops an eating disorder, or a parent needs you to reverse roles and be the parent. During this difficult period of time, you may meet people in support groups who are going through the same things. You can commiserate over the difficulties life has presented to you both.

Once the challenges are over, and you want to and are able to move forward with your life, these friendships wither away. They were there in a time of need, but are no longer applicable for the life you are now living. They are a necessary part of the tapestry of your life, and now you are done weaving that piece.

And if you are really, really lucky, you have a friend or two who have been there throughout your life, from cradle to grave. These are people who know your parents, your siblings, and your history. A single word can have both of you collapse in fit of giggles, and no one around you knows why.

But what happens when you find yourself in need of ending this long term friendship for the sake of your own mental health?

Toxic Friends: A Practical Guide to Recognizing and Dealing with an Unhealthy Friendship
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Is she really your friend or is she poison to your soul? Learn how to deal with these people who have wormed their way into your life.

Reasons for Ending a Long Term Friendship

Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one. Oscar Wilde

Your friend has become toxic. The both of you shared laughs and tears, but now all your

You need to end a friendship that makes you sad.
friend wants to do is bring you down. Snarky comments, ignoring your victories and dredging your defeats through the rumor mill cause you to feel bad after you have spent time together.

What poisoned your relationship? Many times, it is the green eyed monster of jealousy. Didn’t you notice that she did not cheer for you when you got a fantastic promotion with a big, fat raise? Perhaps it is the new home, completely interior decorated, that has the sword of envy take out of your friend’s sheath. Her life is so down in the pits that she wants you there with her, too.

Sometimes it is an unforgivable incident that tears apart the fabric of your friendship. It can be a misunderstanding that festers into a full blow up argument with both of you saying things in the heat of the moment that you cannot take back. Or maybe your friend back-stabbed, lied, or cheated you in some way that shatters your friendship to pieces.

Perhaps your friend is too needy. Friendship has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes you need support and sometimes she does. In between there are lots of great times that are shared.

But what happens when your friend is sucking the life out of you each and every time you speak or are together? You leave your encounters physically and emotionally drained. Just seeing her name in the Caller ID box makes you cringe. Her non-stop life of drama is something you can no longer tolerate or enable.

Steps to Terminating Your Long Term Friendship

The Most Unkindest Cut of All-William Shakespeare

Be brave and talk to the person before you end a long term friendship.
There are two ways to end what was once a beautiful friendship. The quickest way is to be upfront and truthful. In pre-internet and social media days, a phone call would have been the way to share your feelings or maybe a letter.

The adult thing to do is to have a conversation about your need to end things. While this is the most difficult, it also makes it a clean break. Be prepared for anger and tears, but remember it took you a long time to get to this point. don’t back down.

If you do not have the guts for a conversation, the more subtle way to end your long term relationship is to avoid the other person as much as possible and have your friendship “fade away”. This may prove hurtful to the other person who does not understand what happened, but if you are clear about why you need to end it, you must put all of your guilt aside and do what you need to do.

If the person calls, do not pick up the phone. You can return the call in a few days…or not at all. Once this behavior is repeated over and over, most people will take the hint.

If you choose to take the call, then speak in a rushed, hurried tone and make up an excuse to get off as quickly as possible. Avoid making plans. You do not need to explain anything, just say, “Sorry, I can’t.” and get off the line.

Do not return text messages or Facebook conversations. Social media makes this more difficult, as they think you are “friends” because they can contact you with comments and messages.

Ending a long term friendship is never easy. Sometimes it is just something you have to do to go on with your own life.



Apr 8, 2013 12:49pm
We don't really like to talk about friendships being temporary, but many of them are "for a season and for a reason." Good info, thanks.
Apr 8, 2013 12:57pm
Thanks for reading. Social media has kept people together longer than it would have in the past. While some friendships are evergreen, others are not. It really just part of life.
Apr 9, 2013 1:26am
I think losing a long term friend can be painful if it is not just a natural getting-out-of-sight process but I agree that sometimes it is a necessary thing to do. Thanks for this article.
Apr 10, 2013 7:45am
Yes, it is painful, but at times necessary.
Apr 9, 2013 8:35am
Yes so true. Not all long-term friendships need to be carried with a person, to his or her grave. Say, when your long-term friend 'steals' the love of your life (the stolen part can vary from story to story), only a fool would smile and say 'Go ahead and have him/her, it would make my day.'

I especially liked this: "if you are clear about why you need to end it, you must put all of your guilt aside and do what you need to do." Great article. Thanks!
Apr 10, 2013 7:44am
The older I get, the more I realize that I need to do more for myself. Not in a selfish way, mind you, but I cannot fix what is broken with others. There just comes a point when saying good-bye is what is best.
May 18, 2013 12:46pm
Hey mommymommymommy, this is unexpected but I came to search for your article here on IB again after a month, because I need to end a long-term friendship today. It feels different from my first comment. The fear I'm feeling now to 'Just do it' makes my former post look very pompous and smug. The scenario I mentioned was half make-believe, half-real. Now, your words "Your friend has become toxic." are jumping out at me. (Maybe it's me who's whatever, not my friend's problem.) But the warning signs to end it, I realise, have been with me for almost 3 years.

Can I share your post on my Facebook? If yes, could you let me have your preferred link, copyright etc.? Thank you.
May 18, 2013 12:46pm
*former Comment (not 'former post')
May 18, 2013 2:41pm
Yes, you can share my post on your Facebook. Just use the URL link. Thank you and good luck. I know from personal experience that this is not easy.
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