3 Clues It’s Time to End a Friendship

Two young women sitting on a car not facing each other

Dear Selfless Esteem,
How do you know when it’s right to discontinue a friendship? A friend I’ve known for years is constantly wanting me to take her places. When we are together, she only talks about the negative. She doesn’t ask anything of her husband (who is retired and sleeps all day) or adult son (who lives w/them & doesn’t work), but she expects me to do things for her. Being with her is exhausting. If I don’t answer her texts right away, she gets hurt. I’m sick of the guilt trips!
Responsible for others’ feelings?

Dear “Responsible for others’ feelings?”,

You signed your fictitious name in the form of a question as if you’re asking, “Am I responsible for others’ feelings?” The answer is a hard “no” because it’s impossible to make people happy all the time, especially someone, who’s always talking negatively. Even so, many people compulsively try to please others. (See “4 Ways To Stop People Pleasing.”)

Regarding your other question about how to know when it’s time discontinue a friendship, here are 3 clues I found in your letter.

1. The Friendship Is One-Sided

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” In other words, friends edify and help each other. You stated your friend expects you to do things for her; however, there’s no info about any benefit you’re receiving from the relationship.

If the friendship’s one-sided, has it been that way all those years? Otherwise, she may temporarily need extra support during an extraordinarily tough time.

Either way, determine your ability and willingness to help her at this time. Then tell your friend in a respectful, assertive way about your limits. Or, if you’re still deciding whether you’ll continue your friendship, here’s clue #2.

2. The Friendship Is Draining

You described feeling guilty and exhausted. Such emotions are significant indicators that it’s time to either alter the friendship or end it.

Furthermore, you didn’t express any positive feelings about your friendship. If you still want to hang in there, then kindly express your thoughts and feelings to your friend as well as tangible ways to make changes. Meanwhile, you may be interested in the post, “6 Effective Ways To Manage Stress.” If you’re still on the fence, here’s clue #3.

3. The Friendship Is Demanding

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT) says love is “patient” and doesn’t “demand it’s own way.” Your friend’s expectation of immediate responses to her texts is unrealistic and seemingly impatient. (You may be interested in the post, “Ungrateful Friend? Here’s How to Handle It.”)

Now What?

When friendships have these three signs, choose whether you’d like to end the friendship or maintain it. Depending on your decision, a competent therapist can help you with either assertiveness skills and setting boundaries…or determining if/how you’ll end the friendship. Also, therapy is a good outlet to express your frustration. See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.”

Last but not least, be sure to pray about it. Ask God to guide your decision-making process with His perfect wisdom (Job 12:13 NIV). And see the posts, “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps” and “The Real Truth About God.”

At the same time, take heart that God loves you more than anyone can (John 3:16, John 15:13). (For more details about God’s love, see “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem.”) Thus, He’s a true friend. In closing, enjoy this upbeat song, “Good Day,” by Forrest Frank about having a relationship with God.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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  1. T Legg

    Excellent thoughts, as always! Perfect resources included with sound insights!

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for your comment—Glory to God!

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