How to Tell Your Friends You've Outgrown Them

Updated on March 7, 2018

We all have those friends that we’ve known since kindergarten, elementary, high school or college. Some of these friendships are default friendships (almost like family members, you didn’t exactly choose them, they’re just stuck with you)

Some of these friendships are toxic. They may have been fun back when you enjoyed drama and gossip, but now you’ve matured and unfortunately, they haven’t. You don’t have as much in common as you thought you did. You don’t have the same paths in life. You find their humor more offensive than hilarious. You can’t deal with their negativity. You’re starting to feel like it’s probably time to have the “I’m sorry but we can’t be friends anymore” talk.

Telling Jim that you had an actual job to do with actual work seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Telling Jim that you had an actual job to do with actual work seemed to fall on deaf ears.

When it comes to this aspect of our lives we often feel like we’re bad people for wanting to cut out the people that we’ve shared ‘amazing’ memories with, like the times you had to carry them home after staying too late at a party you didn’t want to be at. Or the time you had to get another job because they wouldn’t give you back all the money they owed you?

Most people would think that any sane person should never have this friend in their lives anyway, who befriends people who bring them down anyway? But let’s face it, there are some people who have been included in our lives almost without our permission, like our family friends that we all consider to be as close as siblings, or those friends that come out of nowhere and tug at our humanity by always being in need (we can’t just turn them away right?)

Or it could be those friends who we enjoyed sitting in the sandbox with while talking about our imaginary jobs and romantic partners who don’t understand that, 20 years later, you’re not really into sitting in the sandbox anymore.

When you’re working toward a specific goal, you know there are certain types of people you would rather not have in your life.

While you may feel guilty about breaking up with friends because you’ve had them for so long, you might have to admit that their attitudes are holding you back from the progress and optimism you need.

You may already have a feeling of which friends are not very good for your health (in the same way that you might know that too much chocolate may be bad for your health but you keep searching “why chocolate is good for you” because you’re in denial) So in the same way that you might need to look up the health risks of eating too much chocolate, here are a few signs that your friend is actually a bad friend.

  1. They make you feel bad about yourself
  2. They’re extremely negative
  3. All the drama you have in your life is created by them
  4. They encourage you to do all the risky things they know you’re uncomfortable with (the drug, sex and alcohol pushers)
  5. They drain you financially (asking you for cash they never give back, stealing your stuff, constantly needing to be bailed out of anything from a situation to a jail cell)

Now, here are signs that you are outgrowing them:

  1. You don’t find their jokes about you particularly funny
  2. You feel worse after telling them a problem you were hoping they could help you with
  3. You’ve stopped telling them anything personal
  4. Your definitions of success are vastly different. (When you talk about success, they make you feel as if you think you’re better than them)
  5. You start to feel like they are too close-minded
  6. You continuously make excuses not to see them (you even hide behind the sofa and stop breathing when they ring the doorbell)
  7. They repeatedly tell you that you’ve changed
  8. It doesn’t feel as if they understand you
  9. You untag yourself from everything they tag you in on Facebook
  10. You don’t get any satisfaction in doing anything with/for them. You feel forced rather than pleased.

Staying in any relationship that breeds more negativity than positivity can really take its toll on you emotionally. Toxic relationships can make you feel drained, unenthusiastic and even prevent you from reaching your goals. So if you feel like you’re being held back, here are some tips on how to approach your toxic friendships.

Become unavailable

Most advice columns will tell you that the best way to get rid of a friend is to ignore them and pretend that you’ve fallen off the face of the earth until they get the hint. Well, if this long drawn-out approach works for you then, okay. It probably is a good idea to become less available to your friends when they become demanding of you, but you can be vocal about it. There are certain things that you just don’t have time for anymore and you should let them know. A friend who has grown accustomed to you always agreeing to be there for their every woe will continue to require that of you unless you not only tell, but also show them that you have your own life too. Let them know that you can’t pick them up from a ‘gig’ because you have work in the morning. Stop being available to bail them out of everything. If you’re not comfortable or able to do the things they ask, then firmly say no.

Stop apologizing for thinking differently

Groupthink can be one of the most detrimental things to individual progress within friendships. They may discourage you from growth by encouraging you to remain with the ideals you have maintained as a group over the years. It is easy to give in with responses such as “yeah I know, it will probably never happen anyway” or “you’re right, we should just stick to this”

Don’t apologize for having dreams, having an open mind, changing your mind or wanting more. Let your friends know that your mindset has changed and you’re not sorry for it because you value personal growth and progress.

Don't downplay the things you don't have in common

You may think it is easier and consumes less energy to simply agree and move on but all you’re doing is creating the opportunity for your friend to seek you out whenever they need someone to agree with them. They’ll turn to you to strengthen their arguments, back them up or accompany them to things that everyone else has the sense to turn down.

Be honest (without being rude) about how you feel about certain things. If it doesn’t sit well with you, don’t pretend that it does. Let them know that you have different interests. You don’t need their consent to cultivate it. Do the things you love regardless of whether your friends enjoy them or not. This way you will make new friends whose lifestyle encourages yours.

It’s possible that your friendship may be salvaged if your friend realizes that their behavior is irrational and they take the necessary steps to change. If they’re behavior was just a result of peer pressure they may admit to it and you can go back to enjoying a healthy relationship and starting your own movement.

Of course, you should not force them to become who they are not. The truth is that you and your friends are drifting apart because you no longer share the same interests. If you do not confront them about it, you all may be stuck in insignificant and superficial friendships – which somewhat defeats the purpose of friendships.

Don’t feel guilty about wanting to share meaningful experiences with people who are supportive and make your moments together memorable for all the right reasons.


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    • profile image


      23 months ago

      I think I might have outgrown a friend named Dominic he just wasn't the guy I knew he wasn't there for me when I needed him he spent every free minute with his girlfriend and at first I thought maybe he was just growing up but really he's just immature

    • Jetstream profile imageAUTHOR

      The Jetstream 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for the great feedback!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting article my fellow Hubber. Voted up and tweeted it. I believe being honest is important.


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