When To End A Friendship

I recently broke up with a good friend and, despite being the initiator of the split, was surprised to find that I was still a little sad about it.

Jealous Friend

Unlike our romantic relationships, which we know could end at any time, we expect our friends to be life-long. However, statistics show that's usually not the case.

According to a recent study by Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst, every seven years we cycle through and replace about half our friends. This means that in 2016 half of the people we spend time with now will no longer be in our lives.

Sometimes friendships fall apart because one person moves away or your lives differ drastically (i.e. one person has a baby while the other is still single.) In my case, however, the break-up was due to the relationship turning toxic. In short, my friend who started out a supportive force in my life became a crazy and draining one. Perhaps if I had seen the warning signs from the start, I could have avoided the meltdown all together.

Warning Sign #1: She Can't Be Happy for You

I met my ex-friend because we both were pursuing similar careers; however, even from the start, she was jealous of any successes I had. "Oh, I should have sent my resume in for that," she sniffed when I called her, excited about a job I had just landed. At the time, I overlooked it and made excuses for her, but jealousy and competitiveness are major warning signs that a friendship is toxic and isn't going to work out.

Warning Sign #2: She's a Constant Source of Stress

Friends that bring a constant stream of drama to the table are also not good to have around. My friend in particular was constantly calling me to tell me her woes: She got fired from her teaching job because her boss hated her, she had unprotected sex on a first date and was worried she was pregnant, her mother and sister were ganging up on her, etc. While sharing is important part of friendship, you should never be made to feel guilty about having a happy life.

Warning Sign #3: She's Overly Critical

"You're workaholic and never have time for me."

"They only like ypu because they don't know you that well."

"You boyfriend is a jerk."

Constructive criticism, when asked for, is one thing, but if a friend is constantly spewing opinions about your life, it may be time to cut the cord.

Warning Sign #4: She's Only Your Friend When It's Convenient

Friendship isn't a one way boulevard, but sometimes it can feel that way if a friend is only around when she needs to borrow your clothes, ask you for advice, or only wants to hang out if she is picking the date, time, location, and topic of conversation (most likely her, of course.)

Warning Sign #5: She's Just Plain Crazy

I knew it was time to end the friendship when my friend started to Facebook everyone I know, invite herself to events I was going to, and simultaneously claimed that my boyfriend was flirting with her and she thought he was hot. Even if you have known each other since preschool, friends aren't family members and there's no reason to hold onto a friendship if it's not a positive force in your life.

More on making and keeping friends on SheKnows:

Top 10 reasons to value your best friend
How to let go of friendships that hurt your health
50 qualities that women look for in a friend

Tags: break up

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Comments on "Toxic friends: 5 Warning signs"

Sharon March 21, 2012 | 12:14 PM

So many points in this article ring true for me. My ex-friend's real problem is a controlling boyfriend who has successfully pruned all her friends because she only spends time w/him unless she's at work. I still have to see this former friend due to our part-time jobs but I am keeping her at a co-worker relationship. She was oftentimes moody/rude and difficult to get along with. I did make several attempts to talk to her last fall about her behavior, but she refused to discuss what was really upsetting her. We are now no longer close friends. My ex-friend has always had a selfish streak in her but I didn't fully see it or admit to it until she started acting hateful about work hours. I was offered some extra hours because I had time off from my day job during the holidays. She made snide remarks about it & I was always happy for her when something good happened to help her finances. I was never in competition with her. Her dysfunctional relationship w/her guy has wrecked her life in many ways but denial is a powerful thing. She would rather hang on to an abusive man than to realize that she's insulted and hurt the very people who cared about her the most. It was a very hard thing for me to decide to let this friend go but I'm still in the detachment process. I'm not sure that she's even noticed that I no longer call her. However, I realized that my relationship w/her was about as messed up as hers is with her guy. People who are good for us don't drag us down or try to isolate us from other people. Healthy people don't stay in bad relationships whether it's a dating relationship or friend relationship. There are better people out there for us to spend time with.

Steph December 19, 2011 | 1:19 PM

I love your article.. I am currently going through the same thing with TWO of my friends/Roommate. Both relationships are becoming difficult. I understand that i'm flawed as to my friends and human beings.. But I believe that my friendships are becoming toxic for me.One, of my friend is consistently copying me and writing off the things I do as her hobby and insincere when she apologizes. The other friend is consciously always making any topic to be about herself, and when my bf is around she's always talking about how big her boobs are or anything to get attention... Your story just gave me food for thought. If you have any advice to give me it would be wonderful.

jen March 11, 2010 | 5:18 AM

thank you for posting this i feel so relieved knowing im not the only one with this problem. i always felt it was my fault my friends couldn't be happy for me. ive had bad friend relationships one after the other and for a while blamed myself but now i realize that its a cycle and all part of growing up. its true whats in this article i no longer have the same friends i had years ago b/c some had babys, moved, or the relationship bacame toxic. with this info i am hoping to use to my advantage in making new friend whom share the same confidence as me.

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