The Difficult Decision to End An Unhealthy Friendship

Most of us vividly remember the joys and pains of adolescent friendships, and the dramas inherent in them. Thankfully, as adults our friendships with other women are deeper and richer, influenced and enriched by the shared experiences of navigating life as a woman. The depth of these wonderful friendships is difficult to describe, and it is even more difficult to describe the comfort found within them, within a cocoon of support, understanding, encouragement and love.

And so it shocks us when a dear friend begins to criticize our life choices, to question our commitment to growth and personal evolution, fearing that the person we are becoming is so very different from who we have always been.

It is painful to contemplate ending a friendship, of “breaking up” with someone who knows us well and who has held a significant place in our life. We are generally reluctant to unravel the threads of friendship that have been woven together over years of conversations, shared meals, phone calls, and requests for help in sorting out the complexities of day-to-day life. In fact, it is so painful to walk away from a friendship that we sometimes choose to avoid doing so. I must admit that avoidance was the path I followed over a period of three years or more, while a dear friend consistently and emphatically attacked (and I choose this word carefully) my beliefs, my other friendships, and virtually all of the decisions in my life.

Ending a friendship can be as difficult as ending a marriage, so it is not for the faint of heart. But when someone you love refuses to accept any change in you, wants you to remain the version of you to whom she can easily and effortlessly relate, I urge you to ask one question – “Is it best for me to sacrifice myself and my choices in order to be this woman’s friend?” For me, that answer was a sad but resounding “no.”

8 thoughts on “The Difficult Decision to End An Unhealthy Friendship”

  1. I’ve always been puzzled when this type of thing happens — I believe in unconditional love for family and friends. If someone loves us, truly loves us, how can they judge and attack our choices and paths, when they change and evolve? I try to keep my mind open enough to let them be, but would also choose to close them off from my life if they remain resolute in their negative judgement of my choices.

    1. Yes, Claudia, it is puzzling when someone who loves us judges our choices and paths. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your perspective.

      Sending love and a big hug!


  2. I believe that all relationships have a purpose and a time in our lives. Some relationships last many years, some a lifetime, and some for a short period of time. People grow and change and sometimes those relationships no longer fit. Sometimes we must make the difficult decision to move on and sometimes life just seems to make those decisions for us. All we can do is embrace the memories of that special relationship, know that we gained something from it and, hopefully, we were able to give something in return. It can be bittersweet for sure. I have learned that in life, you must keep going forward. You can’t go back to what used to be.

    1. Thank you very much for your insightful comments, MJ. I love your point that “I have learned that in life, you must keep going forward. You can’t go back to what used to be.” Such an important reminder to us all.

      Sending thanks, love, and a big hug!


  3. I have learned that both parties suffer when there is so much negativity and discord and the healthy thing to do is just agree that you disagree and realize that the relationship serves no one in its present state and so it is time to move on without judgment or bad feelings but with grace and the hope that both will find other relationships which do serve their best most loving selves which is what makes for happiness.

    1. Margaret, thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience with us. I love the idea of striving for relationships that “serve our best, most loving selves.”

      Sending best wishes and a very big hug,


  4. I have a few people – some by blood and others chosen – who I’ve dragged with me through challenges and new beginnings. Mostly compelled by guilt of letting go someone who perceivably ‘knows me’ and not wanting to appear rude if I ignored their attempts to remain in contact. At some point, it became clear that we have little in common other than a certain amount of shared history. While I aim to discern who’s a well-meaning provocateur vs simply…negative, I’ve learned to prioritize relationships that are consistent and healthy.

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your insights, Yukela. I especially love this statement – “I’ve learned to prioritize relationships that are consistent and healthy.” That is quite an accomplishment!

      Sending a big hug along with my thanks,


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