8 Signs It's Time to Kiss a Friendship Goodbye!

Updated on April 29, 2018
letstalkabouteduc profile image

As I grow older, I have less energy for people who drain the very life out of me. That's why I've had to end some friendships.

As I grow older, I become stingier with my time and less willing to waste it on insignificant friendships. While this may sound harsh, it's just part of maturing and turning away from those who deplete you.

When my son got diagnosed with autism, some friends turned their backs on me while others stayed to help. I eventually ended the friendships with those who abandoned me, knowing they were meaningless.
When my son got diagnosed with autism, some friends turned their backs on me while others stayed to help. I eventually ended the friendships with those who abandoned me, knowing they were meaningless. | Source

When I was younger, I embraced people who had lots of drama in their lives, fascinated by how different they were from me. It didn't matter they were often self-centered and self-destructive. But now I choose to surround myself with those who support me when I'm down, get me exited about living, and challenge me to become a better person. With that in mind, I made some tough calls and said goodbye to relationships that didn't serve my needs. Here are 8 signs it's time to end a friendship:

1. She Isn't There for You During Tough Times

The biggest wake-up call for me about friendships came when my son got diagnosed with autism. Up until that point, I would have described myself as a lucky person with a solid group of caring friends. But there's nothing like adversity to put relationships to the test and separate fair-weather friends from the real deal. The saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," rings true during trying times.

I had a couple of people in my inner-circle who wouldn't even let me talk about my son. They shut me down so I eventually turned to a therapist to discuss my grief. I should have ended those relationships right then and there, but I let them limp on for many years. I learned an important lesson from that experience: If a person doesn't rise to the occasion when you're in crisis, there's no point to the friendship.

2. She Doesn't Nag You

After my son got diagnosed with autism, I started taking anti-depressants to deal with my grief. One of the medicines caused me to gain over 20 pounds during a six-month period. Fortunately, I had one friend who cared enough to ask me about my sudden weight gain and nagged me to get in shape. We started walking together three mornings a week, and she let me unload about my son. She urged me to stop taking anti-depressants and face head-on the causes of my sadness.

This woman became my prototype of how a friend should behave. She challenged me to become a better, healthier person and I'll be forever grateful. While nagging has a negative connotation, research shows that it's motivational when coming from a caring friend or family member. My friend's nagging meant the world to me because she saw my pain and reached out to help.

After my son got diagnosed with autism, I needed a good friend to nag me about getting off anti-depressants and getting in shape.
After my son got diagnosed with autism, I needed a good friend to nag me about getting off anti-depressants and getting in shape. | Source

3. She Says, “I'm Praying for You” or “You're in My Thoughts” But Never Offers to Help

When you're struggling, words like these ring hollow. When my son got diagnosed with autism, my best friend said them to me constantly. I found them comforting at first but then just irritating. During difficult times, you need a friend who'll spring into action, not just give you lip service.

Some people, who I didn't even consider close friends, took concrete steps to help and I began to see them in a whole different light. They watched my baby when I attended speech and occupational therapy sessions with my son. They brought our family dinner when we had a long day of medical appointments. They invited us to play dates at their homes and picnics in the park. People who did nothing to help quickly became former friends and vanished from our lives.

4. She Doesn't Value Your Time.

It seems we all have a person in our lives like this, someone who always keep us waiting—showing up 20 minutes late for a lunch date or 40 minutes late for a scheduled walk. She always has a ready excuse but basically it comes down to this: She doesn't value your time and she doesn't value you.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, says some people are chronically tardy to show they're busier and more important. He writes: "People who use lateness to signify they are special or more powerful than those they keep waiting may not plan to show up late, but there’s often a quiet running commentary at the back of their mind suggesting that others will—and really should—wait for them." In the past, I was patient with friends who were late but now show no mercy. While they may not value my time, I certainly do.

5. She Cancels on You.

Although it hurt my feelings, I'd always forgive friends who would cancel on me, thinking we all have unexpected things happen in our lives. I'd just excuse their rude behavior by saying they're flaky. But becoming a mother changed all that and now I drop-kick those folks to the curb. Like those who are perpetually tardy, people who cancel need to feel important and in control.

I stopped putting up with people who cancel when it negatively affected my child. I invited a good friend over to my home for a summer pool party with her three sons. I planned a delicious lunch, got the pool ready, and cleaned the house. An hour before they were due to arrive, she called to cancel, offering up a lame and vague excuse. My 10-year-old was heartbroken. When you screw with me, that's one thing. But when you screw with my kid, that's another. I now have a one-chance rule. If you cancel once, I'll give you another chance. If you cancel again, it's good riddance to you. As my mother used to say when I was a kid, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

If a friend cancels on me, I give them one more chance. If it happens again, I say sayonara. When we're younger, we're more willing to forgive people who cancel on us, saying they're just flaky. As we get older, we're less tolerant.
If a friend cancels on me, I give them one more chance. If it happens again, I say sayonara. When we're younger, we're more willing to forgive people who cancel on us, saying they're just flaky. As we get older, we're less tolerant. | Source

6. She Doesn't Reciprocate

If you think a friendship is a perfectly balanced 50/50 enterprise, you're probably a very lonely person. That's because our lives get messy with health scares, marital problems, work issues, and troubles with our kids. At those times, friends often take low priority.

When my son got diagnosed with autism, I had nothing to offer my friends because I got drained and defeated. They had to shoulder the relationship if they wanted it to continue. Some did and some didn't. But, when the tables got turned, I was there to lift them up and make them feel stronger. There's reciprocation between true friends but not always on a strict tit for tat time-line.

If you're always giving and getting nothing in return, that's probably because the person doesn't really see you as a friend. She's using you to get what she needs and the relationship between the two of you is of no concern. This happened to me when I was a stay-at-mom. Other mothers would often ask me to watch their kids and I happily did so. But they never returned the favor. I quickly realized that they didn't see me as a friend at all, just a babysitter.

7. She Uses You as a Therapist

It's easy to get flattered when a friend turns to us for advice. But often they're using us instead of seeking out the professional help they need. Some people thrive on sharing their problems because it makes them feel like the center of attention.

I had a friend who turned to me with all her marital problems. For many years, I listened to her and gave her the best counsel I could. But, year after year, her problems stayed the same and no progress got made. Then I found out she was talking about these problems with many people, not just me. I was nothing special to her, just another ear. When I recommended that she start seeing a professional, she ended our relationship.

8. She Doesn't Share Your Morals and Values

When you're young, this is hardly a concern as you hang out together, gossip, shop, and attend parties. But, as you grow older, shared values and morals are essential to fostering a friendship, building trust, and having stimulating conversations. Without them, you have only the superficial in common and that's not enough to sustain a meaningful relationship.

I had two best friends in college and I thought we'd become lifetime pals as we established careers, got married, and had kids. But, upon graduation, both of these women had affairs with married men—one with a guy who had a wife and two children and the other to a guy with a pregnant wife. My friends told me about their situations, expecting me to act in a supportive, non-judgmental way. I couldn't do that and that was the end of our friendship. They didn't want me in their lives and I didn't want them in mine.

This Book Helped Me Become a Better Friend

Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness
Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness

Research shows the enormous benefits of having friends. Friends help us have longer and happier lives and make us less susceptible to illness. But making friends and keeping them is often a tricky matter. This books explains how to create meaningful friendships that last a lifetime. I learned so much from reading it and am now committed to making my friendships a priority.

 

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 McKenna Meyers

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      • letstalkabouteduc profile image
        Author

        McKenna Meyers 2 months ago from Bend, OR

        Dyme, I'm sorry you're going through this difficult time. Friendships are so valuable in our lives so it's understandable we feel hurt when they come to an end. We need to grieve the loss, and it takes time. The fact that it's so painful reveals how much the friendship meant to us.

        Sometimes we can step back and see we've outgrown the relationship--that we've moved forward in our life journey and the other person hasn't. It's my goal to always be changing--getting wiser, stronger, and more compassionate. Other people are okay staying in the same safe place and, therefore, there's a disconnect.

        Take good care of yourself, Dyme. I'm glad you're seeing and appreciating the supportive friends around you who challenge you to be your best. I never looked for that when I was younger, but now it's everything to me.

      • profile image

        Dyme 2 months ago

        I have recently had to face this with a couple pf significant relationships in my life. One wasn't as hard because it pretty clear it was more of an overbearing imbalance that i identified. Now the other I am still struggling with as it is. I have been seeing a therapist and she hit on all the points you touched. A friend of almost 30 years slowly crumbling. Used to be my person. We shared everything, all our highs and lows, is my only child's godmother. In recent years i suppose life needs, shortcomings have brought to life parallel values and increasingly shes not adding anything to where Im at in life. This has been an almost 2 yr struggle. Every conversation tendes to end going south, till it became exhausting. Now we barely talk. I jiat know in my heart it will not be the same again. A lot has happened and passive aggressively at that as I've increasingly realized shes a narcissist like a few of the other people i had to remove from my life. Its just unfortunate when friends become strangers. All u mentioned is so true. Theres a couple of people now I have identified as havkng truly always been consistent and made me feel good about myself, always challenging me to be better etc. Those i realize are the actual types of friendships that bring meaning to me now. Its painful and hard though.

      • letstalkabouteduc profile image
        Author

        McKenna Meyers 2 months ago from Bend, OR

        Tammy, I feel your pain because I, too, have had conflicts with neighbors and know it's not fun. Like you, I try to get along with everyone, but sometimes that's part of the problem. Someone sees that as a weakness and tries to take control.

        I would give your neighbor some time and space to cool down. Stop beating yourself up and stay busy with activities and friends. It sounds like the girls next door are bored if they're listening to adult conversations and then reporting back to Mom. I'd just ignore them. Your neighbor will probably come around in due time but, if not, it doesn't seem like much of a loss. Good luck!

      • profile image

        TammyR1313 2 months ago

        I fill I had a toxic friendship with nextdoor neighbor, and she made me feel like I was the guilty one... Here is what happened.

        I know it is for the best to let go but the last two days i have really beaten myself up for something i didnt do...

        The other day I was talking to a neighbor behind us, she was talking about how cruel it was for the ones right beside me to keep a goat pinned up in such a small pen.I told her that they let the goat out in th back yard, She was talking about how horrible that the goat had mange and her husband told the daughter(The mom kept sending the girls out to listen to all what we said) . She asked the daughter if she wanted to sell the goat, any ways the daughter only heard mayb 1/4 of the conversation and went to tell her mom that we both was talking about the girls. I simply answered the ladys question about the goat and my neighbor thinks I was actually talking about the girls.

        I am too old for these games but now my next door neighbor is not talking to me, threw stuff in my yard I gave her. The lady behind us tried to tell her she was only asking about the goat but the mom of course believed all the young girl said. Which is normal for a moms side But i really feel that she should of asked us and herself should of came out to actually ask what it was all about.. I did nothing wrong but she is making me feel I did... I tried to talk to her but she told me to leave she did not want to talk... I would like to get this settled since we are nextdoor neighbors but it seems hopeless...I try to get along with everyone, Im in my late 40's and her in her 30s and Im too old for childish games, I should of seen this coming when she did not talk to me for 3 months because I did not give her my new number, but I pay the bill where does it say by law I had to give her my number.. I would just like to be peaceful, go on, stop feeling guilty and walk around my back yard talking to my Husband and son with out her sending her daughters out to spy and find out what we are saying.. her daughter that started all of this is a sheltered 14 year old and a 10 year old... The mom takes off alot and leaves them two girls at home with the 2 year old... Any suggestions how i can take care of this matter or should i just ignore it and not feel like a prisoner in my own home and afraid there daughters will run back in and tell more lies?

        Is it normal to feel guilty for what I did not do? and I should not have to walk on pins and needles in my own yard just because she sends her kids to fence to listen to all my husband and I say or my son and I say... Yes we both own our houses... she wants me to move but I will not, this is OUR HOME NOT HERS...

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY

        “Robbing my energy” - That’s exactly the reason I finally decided to end it. And, yes, it did take a lot of thought beforehand. It was a tough decision, but a worthwhile one.

      • letstalkabouteduc profile image
        Author

        McKenna Meyers 3 months ago from Bend, OR

        That's so true, Glenn We also have less patience for people who rob us of our energy. I'm really picky about who I let into my sphere now. I want positive, upbeat people who challenge me to be a better person. I think when I was younger I accepted a lot of troubled people into my life because they made me feel superior. But I can't take the drama now. While it's hard to end a long-time friendship, I'm sure you gave it a lot of thought and made the right decision.

      • Glenn Stok profile image

        Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY

        A few years ago I discontinued a friendship with someone I knew since we were kids. Your explanation of reasons to end a friendship rang true for me as I related many of your examples to the reasons I felt I needed to end that friendship.

        As you said, when we get older we tend to value our time a lot more, and therefore we have less tolerance for toxic friendships.

      • letstalkabouteduc profile image
        Author

        McKenna Meyers 5 months ago from Bend, OR

        Yes, Lauren, a friend who truly listens is rare and should not be taken for granted. I read recently about "compassionate listening" and have been applying it both personally and professionally. In compassionate listening, you don't give advice, make comments, or pass judgment. You let the speaker purge their hurt. I find it to be so very powerful, and it sounds like what your friend did for you.

      • profile image

        Lauren 5 months ago

        This has opened my eyes and showed me that a guy who I didn't really think is a friend really is a friend he was there for me when my dad passed away and now he listens to me when I talk to him even if what I say makes him uncomfortable believe me friendship isn't always comfortable he did help me through my anxiety

      • letstalkabouteduc profile image
        Author

        McKenna Meyers 5 months ago from Bend, OR

        Please accept my condolences on the death of your mother, LaTrice. Sometimes a major event in our lives (your mother's passing, my son's autism diagnosis) gives us great clarity. We realize life is precious, and we don't want to waste time with those who bring us down. During those difficult times, we have less energy and we can't waste it on negative people. Good luck to you. I'm glad it's given you the incentive to make new friends.

      • Miss Liberty31 profile image

        LaTrice 5 months ago from Las Vegas, NV

        I'm thrilled that I stumbled upon this article, so reading it has been informative and refreshing. Unfortunately, not too many people know how to be a true friend in someone's time of need. Life's too short to deal with unnecessary drama, especially when it's coming from a person who's only available on a part-time basis.

        I recently ended a "friendship," and haven't regretted my decision. I haven't seen and heard from my so-called friend in a couple of months. He texted me out of the blue while I was at work. I was barely responding back to his text messages and phone calls, since I was busy doing my job. All of a sudden, he gets angry by accusing me of being insecure, wasting his time, poking fun at my appearance and being arrogant. I found his accusations comical, because he's insecure and has a problem. It's not my fault that he can't find anyone to go out with. Despite being a single woman, I wouldn't date someone like him, due to his foul attitude and walking around with a chip on his shoulder. I told him to lose my phone number and blocked it.

        I don't need someone like him in my life, since I have enough going on as it is. My mom passed away four months ago, and I'm still grieving her death.

        He gave me the opportunity to make new friends. Good riddance!

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 12 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        I love the saying that says To have a friend you must be a friend. I see you live in Bend, my granddaughter was there until recently. I love it there. Must be hot.

      • letstalkabouteduc profile image
        Author

        McKenna Meyers 12 months ago from Bend, OR

        Thanks so much for the compliment, Lori. You made my day. I think it's ridiculous how people define friendship today ("I have 550 friends on Facebook"). I think, if we're really lucky, we have a hand-full of really good and loyal friends. They're the ones who deserve our focus, kindness, and appreciation. The older I get the more I value them.

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 12 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        I find it odd there are no comments. This was a great article and I learned a lot from it. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts on friendship.

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