11 Signs It’s Time To Cut Off A Friendship, No Matter How Hard It Is
As we get older, we make new friends and gradually drift away from some old friends, but some people stick around for years, even if they aren't good for us. It's hard to cut ties with someone who feels like part of our past, but there are some clear signs when it's time to cut a friendship off. Just because you've known someone since you were toddlers or you were best friends in college doesn't mean they're serving you now, and as painful as it is to have to end a relationship, sometimes it's for the best.
"Friendships are complicated, especially for mature adults," says therapist Támara Hill, MS,NCC, LPC over email. "It may take multiple negative experiences before the decision to end the relationship is made. Many friendships begin in high-school or college and eventually fall apart because of changing attitudes, perspectives, values, morals, or goals in life. If a friendship is causing you to feel depressed, anxious, insecure, guilty, or uncomfortable, it may be time to say goodbye. Friendships are supposed to add to your life, not detract from it."
It might be hard to acknowledge, but here are 11 signs it's time to cut a friendship off — you'll thank yourself later.
1. They Aren't There For You
Friendships should be based on equality, and the expectation of a give-and-take is an important component of a healthy relationship. "If a friend repeatedly expects us to be there for them (e.g., for emotional or practical support), but doesn't give us anything substantial in return, it’s a sign the friendship is unhealthy and might need to be re-evaluated," says therapist and friendship researcher Miriam Kirmayer over email.
2. They Talk About You Behind Your Back
We all get frustrated sometimes, but your friend should come to you with their issues, not talk badly about you when you're not around. "Not only is this immature, but their behavior causes drama and awkwardness in your friend group," says relationship therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW over email.
3. They Have A Problem With Everything You Do
We don't need a constant critic analyzing what we do 24/7. "You might feel like you just can’t do right by your friend, and they constantly need to talk to you about something that you did that was problematic," says Milrad. "You feel exhausted by all the energy and time you put into listening to their feelings, apologizing and trying to smooth things over. They are too high maintenance."
4. You Feel Worse After Spending Time With Them
"Generally speaking, your friendships should energize you, not drain you," says life coach Gabriella Feingold, CTACC over email. "Even the friendships that are really serious, where you have a lot of heart-to-hearts and cry together a lot, should make you feel a sense of warmth that you take with you when you leave. If you leave all of your hangouts with your friend feeling worse than when you arrived, something is off."
5. They Always Cancel On You
We all have that one flaky friend who has cancelled at the last minute the past four times you have made plans, but there's no need to pull teeth to maintain a relationship with them. "This shows that your friend doesn't respect you and your time, or you are no longer a priority in this person's life," says life coach Patti Sabla, LCSW over email.
6. You Only Have The Past In Common
Friends that you've had for a long time are the hardest to say goodbye to, but if all you have in common is the past, it might be time to move on. "Sometimes, we might feel like we have nothing in common other than our shared history," says Kirmaye. "If you are committed to finding new ways to connect and if the only thing keeping you together is your past, your friendship isn’t necessarily going to be giving you the emotional and practical support you need."
7. You Don't Trust Them
Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and if you can't trust your friend, you likely don't have a healthy relationship. "That’s not to say it’s impossible, or that we should invariably cut a friend out of our lives if our trust has been violated, but a friendship without trust is unlikely to benefit us in the long run," says Kirmayer.
8. They Want You To Be Someone Else
"Peer pressure is, unfortunately, not just limited to adolescence," says Kirmayer. "Sometimes, our friends can pressure us to do things we aren’t comfortable with, to hold viewpoints or ideals that aren’t our own, or to behave in ways that simply don't feel authentic." If a friend isn’t respecting your own values and needs, it might be worth investing in some new friendships.
9. You Spend A Lot Of Time Venting About That Friend
If you are spending a lot of time talking about and venting about a friend to your other friends, that friendship is probably taking more energy from you than it's worth. "Think about all of the hours you've lost processing this relationship and how those hours could rejuvenate you if spent on or with someone else," says Feingold.
10. You Feel Obligated To Meet Up
"Have you been friends since childhood and you feel guilty about letting the friendship go? Do you feel like you need to stay friends just to have people in your life? These aren't good reasons for staying in a friendship," says therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW over email. "Friendships should be fun and not feel like a job."
11. You Don't Share The Same Values
"Every relationship involves compromise, even friendships, but if your values are too different, it may be time to end the friendship and move on," says Hershenson. "For instance, if being kind to others is important to you but your friends constantly gossip, these might not be the friends for you."