Friends breakups hurt almost as much (and sometimes more!) than romantic relationship breakups!
Sometimes it really is time to say goodbye to a pal, and sometimes it’s not.
It’s not always as simple as having things in common or whether you’re on the same path in life. Real friendship goes deeper.
Here’s how to tell when it’s not yet time to end a friendship even when you’ve outgrown them.
1) Your friend still wants to share and communicate with you
Even if you feel you’ve outgrown this friend, it’s not necessarily time to throw in the towel.
If they still want to share and communicate with you, at least there is that desire for connection still there.
At this time you may be sure the friendship is all but over.
But you may as well still keep it for what it is, at least for now.
Your feelings might change, and the fact that this friend still wants to reach out means there may be some spark still there that you don’t notice.
2) The friendship is challenging your beliefs and assumptions
If you’ve outgrown a friendship and find your friend’s beliefs and values contrary to your own, this isn’t always a reason to end the connection.
In fact, having a friendship that challenges your beliefs and which you even find a bit frustrating can be a good thing.
If that sounds strange, think of it this way:
Surrounding yourself only with those who think similarly to you can be boring and it can also lead to getting mentally complacent.
Having a friendship with somebody who’s very different and thinks different things than you or is living their life much differently can be very valuable!
You get to challenge your own assumptions and, at the very least, have a connection with somebody who shows you what you don’t want your life to become.
3) Your old friend is still one of the few who truly understands you
Even if your friendship seems stale, don’t underestimate the value of somebody who understands you.
Life may have taken you in a very different direction, but if your friend is one of the few who “gets you,” why not keep your ties alive with him or her?
You may have outgrown them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the friendship is over.
Having somebody out there who understands you and who’s known you for a while is an incredibly valuable and unique thing and it can’t be easily replaced.
“Having friends satisfies the need to have somebody appreciate us for who we are, congratulate us on our accomplishments, and have somebody listen to us when we need to unload some of our pain while experiencing problems.”
4) Ending the friendship will hurt others close to you
Another thing to keep in mind and a solid reason for not pulling the plug on a friendship is if it will hurt people close to you.
For example, I had a close friend who was also friends with my sister.
Stopping being friends with her would also have hurt my sister’s friendship, so instead of ending the friendship I just let it kind of be whatever it is.
Many times ending a friendship will have ripple effects and can lead to unintentionally hurting and upsetting other people close to you.
Before you end a friendship, think about who else is going to be affected by this decision.
5) The friendship is still useful to your career or future
Now I’m going to get into some more self-interested reasons to continue the friendship.
I don’t mean to be controversial, but I want to be fully honest here:
Sometimes you’re kind of done with a friendship but it’s still useful to you.
- Your friend has career connections that could help you
- Your friend knows people you want to stay close to you for your own business reasons or future job prospects
- Your friend is friends with other people who you want to stay in touch with for practical reasons.
I realize that this might seem a little cynical, but the truth is that sometimes cutting off a friendship also undercuts your own interests.
Even if you’ve grown apart from your friend, there’s no need to burn all your bridges.
You can still remain casual friends and enjoy some of the practical or career benefits that may exist through this friendship.
6) Ending the friendship will cut you off from a rich extended social network
It’s not only career interests that need to be kept in mind when ending a friendship.
What about the friends of your friend who you do connect with and like a lot?
When you call it quits on a friendship, you potentially cut off a larger extended social network that you may end up badly missing!
Sometimes we think of friendships as only one-on-one, but they often involve a much wider network of people:
Those who are friends of friends.
Not only do I know many people who have met romantic partners through friends of friends, I also know of numerous people who end up having their best friendships and connections through other friends.
This is a good reason not to end this friendship quite yet.
Which brings me to the last point…
7) Cutting off this friendship will be more drama than just letting it fizzle out
If this friendship is over, sometimes it’s not necessary or advisable to end it.
The friendship is going to fizzle out regardless, so there’s no need for a “friend breakup.”
Often we’re friends with those we’re geographically close to, work with or have other life connections with.
If you’ve grown apart from somebody or find you’re no longer on a similar page to them, chances are it’s going to fade out regardless.
There’s usually no need to take an official step to end things when it’s already more or less entering a lower-tier of friendship and fading out either way.
Don’t give up too easily
The bottom line about friendship is that true, deep connections are rare.
If your friend is physically or psychologically abusive or has betrayed your trust in a damaging and dangerous way, it’s time to walk away for good.
But if this is more about the feeling that you no longer have a connection with somebody, be cautious before cutting all ties.
Even if it’s your friend themselves who seems to no longer be interested (not you), be wary about walking away from this friendship and potentially regretting it.
Give things a chance.
“Exhaust all reasons why that person is not calling you back or reaching out before you call it quits on the friendship,” advises Professor of Social Psychology Mahzad Hojjat, PhD.