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How to Prevent Ex-Friends From Becoming Enemies

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor shares tips for smooth relationships with friends and encounters with strangers.

Becoming an enemy to an ex-friend is like someone destroying an apple tree after picking all the apples. No appreciation for the apples picked, and no consideration for the value of the tree, only vexation that presently, there are no apples to pick.

It is unfortunate that some ex-friends respond to the end of the friendship with anger and hostility. Nurturing such negative emotions, exposes them to the danger of becoming enemies (from the Latin word inimici, which translated literally means bad friends). However, it is possible to remain former friends (no present friendly interaction) without becoming bad friends. The ex-friends are the greatest help in preventing themselves from becoming enemies.

Gossiping about an ex-friend is heading toward the enemy position.

Gossiping about an ex-friend is heading toward the enemy position.

The key is for ex-friends to maintain the attributes which made them good friends, and not allow the end of the friendship to bring out the worst in them.

For personal character growth, and for the well-being of former friends, consider the following attributes that prevent ex-friends from becoming enemies. They are applicable for any kind of friendship ranging from casual to marital.

  1. Civility – common courtesy
  2. Commendation – instead of criticism
  3. Compassion – kindness, including forgiveness
  4. Confidentiality – respect for privacy shared
  5. Cooperation – instead of disagreement and conflict
Neither friends nor enemies; just civil.  Photo by Anna Longova

Neither friends nor enemies; just civil. Photo by Anna Longova


Most likely, the ex-friends will meet in public, in the presence of other people. That makes it easy to show the same courtesies to the ex-friend as will be shown to other people. A greeting, a smile and any gesture that pertains to good manners are appropriate. Civility includes the following:

  1. Politeness toward everyone, not just friends.
  2. Good manners practiced in all situations.
  3. Courtesy whether or not the recipient deserves it.
  4. Emotions under control, not in control.

Lack of civility may encourage a similar behavior in the other person, and become a fertilizer for developing animosities. Negative emotions can fester and explode at an opportune time. To prevent that, ex-friends should be as civil as they know how to be.


Whether in the presence or absence of each other, an ex-friend should say something commendable or say nothing at all about the other person. Troublemakers are always available to bring and carry reports about what one allegedly said about the other. Be careful not to start or fuel the war of words. Here are some useful tips to remember.

  1. Practice zero tolerance for gossip about an ex-friend. Simply refuse to listen.
  2. Never criticize an ex-friend, not even in personal defense.
  3. Speak honest praise, when it is appropriate.
  4. If the opportunity arises, express commendation in person.

One of the most humbling experiences between ex-friends is for one to express criticisms or harsh words about the other, only to hear that the other only expresses commendations. The kind one is the smarter one.

It is alright to ask, but you cannot make an ex-friend forgive you.

It is alright to ask, but you cannot make an ex-friend forgive you.


No-one is required to consider the feelings of an ex-friend with regard to all the decisions he or she makes. However, kindness dictates a show of compassion in appropriate ways.

  1. Forgive the ex-friend for his or her contribution to the breakup. Free the person to move on without feeling obligated to make compensation.
  2. Do not be deliberately offensive; for example, if an ex-friend eats bugs, resist the temptation to make a Facebook post about the stupidity of people who eats bugs.
  3. Be sensitive and sympathetic in the event of an adverse situation. Do not express joy, or comment on how much it is deserved.
  4. In such in an event, it is alright to pass on an opinion (based on knowledge of the ex-friend) to someone in a position to help.

The Golden Rule applies here. Treat an ex-friend the same way you would like someone else to treat you.


Confidentiality is the line an ex-friend crosses to become a sure enemy. Disrespect for privacy shared during the friendship is a major act of treason. It violates the basic principle of friendship and can create an enemy for life. Be respectful and gain respectability.

  1. Enjoy the trust that the ex-friend placed in you.
  2. Prove yourself worthy of that trust.
  3. Exposing secrets can hurt the image of the exposer as much as it hurts the other person’s image.
  4. Keeping the secrets can be rewarded with lifetime respect instead of a lifetime enmity.

Poll on Attributes


It helps if there is a mutual agreement to end the friendship. It also helps if both people agree on whether they will avoid interaction with each other completely or to what extent they will interact. They can share an article like this one, to ensure that they are on the same page. In addition, the following suggestions will help.

  1. Decide on a mutual response to people who inquire about the relationship. For example, “It didn’t work out,” or “We both chose to end it.” Agree not to discuss who did or said what.
  2. Agree that the only reason for any other discussion is to receive professional help. One may not want help, but should not prevent the other.
  3. Agree on the method by which anything more that needs to be said will be said, instead of choosing messengers haphazardly.
  4. Agree on the return of any items, which belong to one but are in the possession of the other.


These five attributes, if practiced by ex-friends, can help maintain the emotional and social assets of the former friendship. The end of the friendship does not cancel the memories of concerts attended, travels enjoyed, skills shared and life experiences enhanced. Appreciation of those memories can hardly grow into feelings of hatred.

Instead there will be feelings of gratitude within former friends who have no intentions of becoming bad friends or enemies, making life miserable for each other. Friendship is precious while it lasts; and when it ends, it can become a precious memory.

© 2013 Dora Weithers


Lauren on September 03, 2018:

Thank you Dora for writing this article now I finally know what my ex friend Dominic was doing he was really eavesdropping on my phone conversations like I think twice when I was talking to my friend Kendra and another time when I was talking to my brother and another time when I was talking to my boyfriend and when he did that I made sure to let my friend Kendra and my boyfriend both know that he was listening in on my conversation with them and the weirdest thing is that he was holding his car door open for a really long time and when I'm outside he gives me this look that almost is taunting me I'm totally afraid of him kinda

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 16, 2015:

Thanks, Peg. We can lessen the pain of separation by respecting the value of our ex-friends.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on February 16, 2015:

This is such important information to share. The end of a friendship can be quite painful if these guidelines are ignored. Great advice.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 09, 2014:

MyLinda, thank you for your observation. My thoughts are that you have to agree to disagree; that takes cooperation. Agree that you will no longer be friends. Agree that you will not bad talk each other, and so on.

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on January 09, 2014:

You are right all of those qualities would be good in dealing with an ex-friend. The only one I worry about is cooperation. If that were possible I suppose the people would still be friends.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 12, 2013:

Greenson, thank you for the invitation. I would love to read your work. There is only one line of one hub showing on your page. You may want to check on the hubs (plural?) that are not being displayed.

Greenson on December 12, 2013:

please go trough my hubs...

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 11, 2013:

Ziyena, thank you for your encouragement. I agree with you on the importance of compassion. It is really basic to healing. I appreciate your input.

ziyena from the Somewhere Out There on December 11, 2013:


I really applaud your effort to bring to light such an awkward situation. I think step 3: Compassion is the most important key in mending or moving on. Without this attribute we could not really accomplish any of the other steps successfully. Thanks for this Hub and voting UP

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 10, 2013:

Crafty, thank you for your affirmation. Yes, it takes selflessness, and that attribute looks great on anybody. Good point!

CraftytotheCore on December 10, 2013:

This is such good advice. It does indeed require selflessness. I have watched people transform from having healthy relationships to becoming hostile and angry when the friendship breaks down. That's no way to live.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 10, 2013:

Greenson, thank you for your kind comments.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 10, 2013:

Faith, thank you for your input. Hopefully, the older people will model this kind of behavior to the younger generation.

Greenson on December 10, 2013:

good information.....

Greenson on December 10, 2013:

good article..thank u...

Faith Reaper from southern USA on December 09, 2013:

Excellent hub full of insightful wisdom as always. Yes, to do all of these things you have suggested, does require a certain amount of maturity too. The younger generation may have a bit of a hard time with some of these things, but if they realize the end of a friendship does not mean cruelty and becoming enemies for sure!

Up and more and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Nell, thank you for sharing. glad you and your friend made up; you certainly will not become enemies.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Sheila, we long for the world to be a better place. It helps if each of us be the best we can be, to everyone including ex-friends. Thank you for your comment.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Lambservant, you have the right attitude. Do your part and move on. Thank you for sharing.

Nell Rose from England on December 09, 2013:

Hi, this is an interesting hub because it brought back memories of when I broke up with a very good friend, it was so uncomfortable and yes it got ugly too, luckily we made up again, but it was never the same after that, wonderful hub!

sheilamyers on December 09, 2013:

Great tips for anyone who has ex-friends! I truly believe that no matter what caused the split or how bad things were, we should all deal with ex-friends the same way we do with friends. The world would be a much better place without all of the gossip and back-biting.

Lori Colbo from United States on December 09, 2013:

Ms Dora what a valuable and excellent topic. I learned a lot. I have a few former friends and I rarely run into them. If I do, on my part I keep it civil even gracious if I can. It can be awkward. I just say hello to them and whether they react positively or not, I move on.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Thank you, L M Hosler, for affirming the point of this article. Being civil and respectful to the ex-friend makes life easier.

L.M. Hosler on December 09, 2013:

Good article and I loved the picture of the kitten and the puppy. You are so right about treating a former friend in a respectful manner. I was very close friends with someone I worked with but things changed between us. I never trusted her again but I did have to be civil and respectful in order to continue our working relationship.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Thanks for your feedback, Billy. Some of life issues are really difficult, but they all help our character growth in some area.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 09, 2013:

Wonderful thoughts Dora. This is a tough one and I have faced it. There is no reason to become enemies but unfortunately that is the end result at times...confidentiality is the tough one for me to accept.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

DDE, thanks for your comment and your continual support. I appreciate you, too.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Frank, thank you for your comment. I always appreciate you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 09, 2013:

Jackie, I agree with you that these attributes also help in our family relationships. We certainly do not want to be enemies with our relatives. Thank you for your input.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 09, 2013:

Attributes Which Prevent Ex-Friends from Becoming Enemies has valuable points to help ex-friends to avoid becoming the enemy one can just fall into the enemy kind. An informative, helpful and most useful hub.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on December 09, 2013:

Msdora what a useful hub Civilty is probably the most important I think.. but you make good points.. again useful very useful :)

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on December 08, 2013:

This is so true and I think can even apply to family. We do not all have family we want to be friends with or hang around with but you do not want to become enemies. Great writing here.There should always be peace whenever possible. ^

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