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Breaking up with friends is hard to do — but here’s when you should

It’s natural for friends to come in and out of your life as you grow up, move around and change paths. For example, you may not keep up with a friend who you were super close with in college because you now live in different states.

Friendship dynamics change regularly, and for many reasons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything inherently wrong with you or them. In fact, a recent study conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that we tend to lose half of our close friends and replace them with new ones every seven years. We might think we have ultimate control over who we will remain friends with years down the line, but this study suggests it has less to do with personal choice and more to do with social context.

However, despite this natural ebb and flow of friendships, sometimes you have to make a conscious decision to bring one to an end because it’s no longer a positive influence on your life. It’s never an easy decision to make — and just like when you decide to end a romantic relationship, there’s rarely a simple way to do it. If you find yourself weighing the pros and cons of breaking up with a friend, here are some red flags that denote something is definitely not right with your relationship.

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1. It’s all about them

You find your phone conversations are very one sided, aka they spend 90 percent of the time talking about their own problems rather than having an actual dialogue with you. They never ask you how you are or seem interested in your life, but rather use you as a sounding board to work out their own issues.

2. They’re constantly flaky

Showing up late to friendship dates every now and then is one thing, but if they’re constantly running 30 minutes behind — or worse, cancel on you at the time of said date — they’re bad news. This friend may never say it, but they don’t respect your time and don’t care enough about you to show up.

3. They never have anything good to say

These friends either love to be critical or love to rain on everyone’s parade. They’re the Negative Nancys who aren’t content until everyone around them is miserable too. They may be depressed, in which case, you should be sensitive about ending a friendship or putting it on hold. Hopefully, it will help them realize their behavior is toxic and inspire them to see a therapist to pull them out of their funk.

4. They make you uncomfortable

These are the people who never seem to jive with your other friends for one reason or another, and make little effort to amend their ways. They’re also the type to try and cross the line of friendship into something romantic when they’ve had a drink or two. If you end every hang out session feeling awkward and/or apologizing to other friends for their behavior, it’s definitely an issue.

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5. They “exaggerate”

… Or just flat out lie. You always get overly elaborate stories out of them that often involve celebrities or someone ending up on a plane to Switzerland. While they may have sounded cool at first, after hearing 100 of them that all sound too insane to be true, all you hear is b.s.

6. They’re a mess

Either she’s the girl that’s left asleep on the bar at 4 a.m. or she’s always on your couch in tears over her most recent Tinder date disaster. They just can’t get their life together and constantly rely on you for emotional support.

7. They care more about winning than you

Winning can mean scoring the guy you both like at a bar, getting an awesome job or even getting married first. They like to gloat more than support whatever you’re up to — and even compete over having the better bad situation. They likely have very low self-esteem, but it’s not your job to be their stepping stone.

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