How to Cut Off a Friend Without Seeming Rude: 5 Mind Tricks

Updated on July 16, 2019
hallucinogen profile image

As a neuroscientist, I am fascinated by mental health, consciousness and perception, as well as the psychology behind human relationships.

1. Pretend to Be Embarrassed to Accept Anything From Them

Do you want to painlessly phase this friend out of your life, without them even realizing? This is a hugely powerful psychological trick; it will result in someone coming to the conclusion that you must dislike them without seeing that you're actively trying to cut them out.

What you need to do is slowly stop accepting things that you used to readily take from your friend. Of course, if they have been driving you to and from work for months and you suddenly refuse the lift, they will suspect that you're angry or upset with them. This tactic must be executed subtly and repeatedly to work.

You must slowly start appearing embarrassed and unwilling to accept things from them, until you're eventually accepting less and less. The goal is to sneakily decrease intimacy and comfort levels in the friendship to make them feel that you two are "naturally drifting".

Why is this trick so effective?

Friendship is an exchange; it involves transactions of kind words, support and even physical things including food, with both parties being happy to share and accept.

Psychologically-speaking, each time you fake being embarrassed and uncomfortable when your friend offers you very inexpensive things or minor favors, you are acting as if you don't really like or feel comfortable with them.

Think about it: you act in this overly polite way with 1. people you've just met and don't yet know/like and 2. people who you aren't interested in bonding with. You will hijack your friend's brain and make them see you as a mere acquaintance figure, because only their acquaintances treat them with such stilted politeness.

It'll mimic a natural separation between two people and the friendship will end like magic.


2. Casually Reveal Something Major That You 'Must've Forgotten' to Tell Them

This is another sneaky way to hack someone's brain and, psychologically-speaking, works in a similar way to method 1. It requires some premeditation: the next time something important happens in your life, be it good or bad, you must not tell this friend.

Let a few weeks pass. Eventually, slip your news into the middle of a conversation, pretending to be entirely unemotional and casual, as if you're unaware that you haven't told them. e.g. "no, I can't come out tonight... I'm seeing Freddie, remember?".

When they appear shocked and ask "what, who is Freddie? You didn't tell me you had a boyfriend..", this is your opportunity to make them feel unimportant. Look them in the eye in a way that oozes disinterest (albeit while remaining polite, of course!) and nonchalantly utter something along the lines of "oh - um, I thought I'd told you? Well, anyway, I'm not free but enjoy tonight...".

The trick here is to keep going, as if you genuinely forgot to tell your friend this news but that you don't feel bad for doing so; don't stop to explain your life update or apologize for not telling them, since this will negate what you are attempting to achieve. They'll come to their own conclusions and assume that you're telling other friends things that you aren't telling them.

This revelation may hit your friend like a cold blizzard and force them to consciously acknowledge that you don't really like them. If you sense that this occurs, do not fret; they still will not suspect that you are in any way planning this/attempting to cut them out, and their sadness at the loss of the friendship should not transform into resentment.


3. Give Extremely Generic Compliments

You do not want to appear overtly cold, since your friend will believe you're upset with them; the aim is to keep them unaware of your desire to cut them off. Do you want your friend to believe that the friendship is naturally slipping away, but that you are a nice person who is trying to make things better? There is no better way to do this than to compliment them now and then, but in a very impersonal, generic, even subtly insulting way.

There are two ways of using compliments to subtly unnerve someone:

1. Instead of giving them warm comments that hit them on a personal level and make you seem caring, you want to give them the type of meaningless compliment that someone gives to an acquaintance when the social situation calls for it. If you'd normally tell them that their top suits their hair color and looks lovely, gushing with enthusiasm, go for this compliment format but make it generic. Say "cool top - everyone seems to be wearing red this season!".

2. Alternately, as I touched on above, you can take this further and give a super-subtly backhanded compliment that you know will insult them a little. If you know that they have always loved writing and consider it their best subject, tell them "you know, I could really see you working as a nurse... you're so practical". Since the word "practical" usually isn't associated with being an avid writer, they'll think "wow... maybe she doesn't even know me properly. I'm not practical, I'm dreamy and creative!".

The goal with this isn't to hurt them - it is to make them question the friendship and your level of shared intimacy. Delivered occasionally, these compliments will inspire a sense of great confusion in them. Something will seem wrong, but they'll never suspect that you're phasing them out (because you're being actively flattering!). Just take care not to sound cutting or snide.


4. Become Genuinely Busy Doing Things They Don't Do

As well as employing effective strategies to make your interactions seem less friendly, you need to physically distance yourself too. By getting involved in activities that they dislike and associating with different people, you are taking small steps in the direction of creating a new life for yourself that doesn't include this person.

I have personally done this with great success in the past. If you and your friend have always enjoyed getting drunk, partying and acting self-destructively together, show them that you're moving to new horizons. Start saying no to nights out and pick up running, for example. If you have been going to try new burger joints with them for years, transition to a vegan lifestyle and start appearing uninterested in their lifestyle.

You want them to believe that you're out busy doing things that don't involve them. Whether it be a sport you pick up, a drastic lifestyle change or you befriending new people who this friend doesn't associate with, it must appear like a natural, sincere change. If you genuinely enjoy this new thing, you'll happily fill your time doing it; not only will you consequentially be less available, but you'll also be doing something that this person can't relate to.

Hopefully, they'll start to find you a little dull and will start seeking new, like-minded friends... without ever realizing you planned to cut them off in the first place!


5. Start Appearing Less Available On Social Media

Social media has its perks and its downsides; it facilitates communication with close friends but also makes it easy for hanger-on friends to contact us excessively. Unfortunately, some clingy people are incapable of seeing that you find their constant messages irritating, especially when you're averse to ignoring people and tend reply to them politely.

Facebook introduces the artificial concept of someone being available 24/7; many of us scroll through our feed late at night, forgetting that the little green "active" button will be appearing next to our name for all to see. Emotionally-astute people will realize that you're probably in bed looking at the app on your phone, and won't bombard you with messages and demand support at 4am.

However, someone who is isolated and vulnerable might subconsciously take this as a sign that your availability knows no bounds. When they're bored, blue or generally struggling, their brain will direct them to your profile and they'll message you. This will become a learned behavior (and, of course, applies to other apps including Snapchat). This situation rarely ameliorates on its own; you'll need to take measures to make yourself seem less 'present' and contactable.

On Facebook, you can hide your active status from certain people and I strongly recommend that you do this. Don't underestimate how effective this can be in slowly cutting someone off; if your friend doesn't see you online in the chat section, they'll start to focus on other people to pester and will assume you have better things to do than sit on Facebook.

Do you think anyone has ever tried to cut you off?

See results

© 2018 Lucy


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Messi 225 

      7 weeks ago

      Oh yes I'm sure there are tricks but I prefer the old fashioned friendship break up I did that with this guy he was totally not putting any effort into the friendship he started giving his girlfriend priority over his friends and he wasn't there for me when I needed him like when my anxiety got bad he texted me but I ended the friendship because it was one sided and the fact that he wasn't there for me was what ultimately ended the friendship forever because of the lost trust

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      20 months ago from The Caribbean

      Seems like these tricks would work. Who knows? They might come in handy for someone who is afraid to be forthright.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Oh yes I'm sure there are tricks but I prefer the old fashioned friendship break up I did that with this guy he was totally not putting any effort into the friendship he started giving his girlfriend priority over his friends and he wasn't there for me when I needed him like when my anxiety got bad he texted me but I ended the friendship because it was one sided and the fact that he wasn't there for me was what ultimately ended the friendship forever because of the lost trust


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)