Cutting Friends Loose - What's the Best Way?

I’ve grown apart from a couple college friends. Yet they still seem to think we have lots in common, I enjoy being in their company, and that I am the same person who they met years ago. In reality, hanging out with them is annoying. I’m not interested in gossip about alums, reality TV shows, or home decorating. I don’t feel like I can share my interests or opinions with them. Plus, they offer me no emotional support. One is habitually critical about my life and the other is a fixer. For example, she doesn’t like that I get flustered when I drop something. I should fix that because it upsets her. :rolleyes:
I tried to talk to Miss Critical about this dis-connect back in February. She told me it was a crappy way to feel about our friendship after I was her bridesmaid (years ago). So, I tried to give our friendship another chance. Here I am, at the same place that I was in February. Now, I’m using silence (no emails and no phone calls) to slowly phase them out. Is there a better way to cut ties? When I’ve tried being direct, it devolves into “Oh yeah? You’re no picnic either!” I am sad it has come to this but I can’t ignore how crummy and defensive I feel after hanging out with either of them. Any tips or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated.

I’ll add onto the question with: What do you do when the person is very integrated into your social network?

I have a friend like this. I still call her my friend, because I care about her and I do have fond memories of us hanging out together. But I’ve tried to hang with her a couple of times in the last few years, and there’s just nothing there anymore. She calls me on my birthday and I’m cordial to her, but I just make excuses of why we can’t get together. The friendship has run its course and that’s all there is to it. Just make excuses until they get the hint.

AmericanMaid, I’m astonished to read this thread, as I was planning to start one of my own on this subject. Like Indygrrl said, this girl is “very ingrained into [my] social network”. We have very much grown apart (aspects of her personality really annoy me), and my core group of friends hardly does anything with her anymore (I don’t think any of us really like her). It’s unspoken between us, but her name never comes up if we are going to the movies or something. We still invie her to birthday parties and such, although I think the main reason for that is because we are afraid she’ll hear about it from someone else. However, she has recently been wanting to “do something” with us, and I’m dreading having to see her again. It’s a shame one can’t break up with friends the way one can break up with a boy/girlfriend.
Sorry for the thread hijack. Please ignore.

Not meaning to be sexist (but I’m sure it will come off that way) why the heck do women especially seem to have this problem with definitively terminating associations and relationships.

If you don’t want to socialize … don’t. Just say no. Why all this angst and dragging things out? If you don’t want to be buds or pseudo-buds just tell them that your lifestyles and attitudes don’t connect anymore and thanks but no thanks with respect to hanging, talking or socializing.

Kalhoun, what if they don’t get the hint? Last autumn, this girl called me wondering why I didn’t like doing things with her anymore. She somehow figured out (correctly) that a friend of mine was over at my house and demanded to talk to her. She was yelling about me how life for her was so hard and she feels like she doesn’t have any friends (maybe it has something to do with the way you’re acting?). It was the only time in my life I have ever purposely hung up on someone. I don’t even hang up on telemarketers. I felt like crap, but I figured she would get the hint that her monstrous behavior is why we try to avoid her. She called back. I couldn’t just ignore the phone, so I had to pick it up and talk to her more.

It may not be the best way but for me, I just stop inviting. If she hears and gets angry that she wasn’t invited, I just brush it off as “Oh it was no big deal, I didn’t think to invite you” and when she invites me I make up something I simply HAVE to do like give my dog a bath or give myself a pedicure hopefully she has half a brain and gets ahint. Will she get mad? Yep. Will she say bad things about what a stuck up bitch you turned into? Probably but if you don’t want to be around her do you REALLY care what she thinks? If I still want to be friends with other people inthe group I invite them and other people but not her and then say there wasn’t enough room inthe car or something equally as lame…it’s stupid and immature but effective. I remember one “friend” we went to a play and told her we didn’t think she would be interested or would understand it. That was pretty insulting. She got the hint after that.

Lisa-Go-Blind, I’ve just been playing the “busy” card. I suppose if she comes right out and asks me (she HAS, but she was so drunk she didn’t even remember calling me) I’ll just tell her our lives have taken different directions. I don’t look forward to it. I think it’s MUCH harder to break up with friends than it is with lovers. I must admit I’m a coward when it comes to this.

running with astro’s comment, I have noticed my brother and father make life-long friends. My mother and I seem to make situational friends.
I know I have had a history of making really crappy female friends. I’ve worked out that issue with a therapist. Now that I am in a healthier place and feel like I deserve more, I realize precious few of my current friends are willing to give me what I need. Namely: emotional availability, support, fun, and honesty.
Maybe I’m over-generalizing but I think women get so caught up with being liked that they make friends indiscriminately. But, I don’t have this dis-connection/dumping problem with my guy friends. Is this one of those Venus/Mars things?
The way I visualize making friends is that you’re sitting in a chair surrounded by people. My brother just sits there waiting for a person to approach him and talk. That’s how my brother makes and retains all these friends. For most of my life, I got out of my chair and mingled randomly. So I didn’t get a group of friends who would have made the effort to get to know me regardless.

I have recently cut some friends loose and I have used several methods.

1)avoid them at all costs

2)Only respond to the email if it is a direct question and then be short

3)Come out and directly say “I think we’ve grown apart and I would like to move forward”

4)I just told one friend whom I have only tolerated that we just don’t have anything in common and she makes our relationship too complicated and I don’t have time for complications.

Of all the people I have cut loose…these things have worked for me

Good luck

In general, I think if you want to end the friendship because of a particular behavior (constant negativity or forever bumming money off you, for instance), then it’s fair to let that person know, since it most certainly affects all their relationships.

On the other hand, if you’ve just “grown apart,” or find the person boring, there is no kindness in having “the talk.” That, I think, is when you just find other things to do when they want to go out/come over.

Personally, I prefer the passive-aggressive approach. You don’t want to see her, so don’t see her. Beg off. When you never, ever call and you’ve had a “cold” or a “headache” the last 5 times she tried to get together, she’ll get the idea. I generally use that myself, and it seems to work–though I’m also a spiteful bitch, so it can be accompanied by a huge fight, if nessecary. :wink:

I think this is also the approach I’d prefer to be used on me. In the unlikely even that someone should want to cut my wit and charm out of their lives, I wouldn’t want a big speech that would just make me feel bad. It would just make things worse for everyone involved, not to mention that you’d have to talk to the person in order to not talk to them anymore, which would be uncomfortable.

I’ve always thought it would be most noble to do something horrible and make yourself hated by the person, thus ending the friendship, all the while keeping your own feelings inside and allowing the other person to feel that they’re in the right. :slight_smile:

Yeah this is definitely a ‘chick thing’. I have never heard of guys ‘breaking up’ with a guy friend.

First of all, why “break up” with a friend anyway? What? You have so many that you need to alienate a few?

Second, if I needed to definitively cut someone loose, it’s probably for a good reason and there would be no uncertain terms as to why he has been told to “fuck off” - slept with my girlfriend, sold my car for crack, framed me for murder, whatever.

Third, if I don’t want to hang out with someone, I don’t hang out with them. If they don’t return my calls, they get deleted from the roster and have to work to get back on. Fuckem.
This sounds like the type of petty spitefullness that only women can muster - “I don’t like her sweater so i don’t want to be her friend anymore”.

Yeah it is a chick thig but thinking it is petty silliness is a guy thing. See having some kind of roster y ou have to work to get put back on is a guy concept that women think of as petty silliness. It’s just that female friendships and male friendships operate completely differently.

I have guy friends and I treat them comepletely differently. But a guy won’t keep calling if you don’t call back and won’t get all pissy and weird and miffed if you go shopping withhout him - girls do. You DO HAVE TO BREAK UP WITH GIRLFRIEDNS it’s just different.

Personally, I don’t find it worth the effort to cultivate a friendship I don’t enjoy. ::shrug:: That’s just how I feel. Friends make demands, you know. I’m not interested in filling those demands if I’m not getting anything, or not getting much, out of the friendship.

I tend to agree with LLP. Sometimes, even after years of knowing someone, it just becomes too much investment for too little return to remain friends. I have someone in my social circle that I’ve known for thirty years, and had some great times with, but I get a headache just thinking about having to spend time with that person anymore. My method is to just use avoidance. After a while, they’ll get the idea.

I’ve been trying the “I’m super busy” trip (which I really AM busy - full-time job and part-time college) with a sort fo friend who lives on the other side of the state from me. Thing is, she’s not “getting it.”

I finally sent her an e-mail a few weeks ago telling her how busy I am (took the time to list my activites), how her calling and leaving messages up to three times a day was bugging my husband and I (George has even suggested changing our phone number and not telling her) and maybe it couldn’t hurt to cultavate on-line friendships since her main complaint is that she’s bored (we’re guessing she doesn’t have many friends after she married her first husband’s brother - sure creeped me out).

Did this e-mail work? Yes and no. She no longer calls multiple times a day, but she calls as many days a week as she did before, leaving long rambling messages about how bored she is or the latest on her headaches. Part of me wants to yell “GET A LIFE! What do you expect me to do for you from 300 miles away?!?!” But we’ve known each other since the 8th grade (we’re both 34 now) and if she really IS as friendless as we suspect. how will it be for her when I cut her off?

I just don’t know what to do.


Women seem to invest a lot more emotionally in their friendships (and relationships in general) than do men. They hold to higher expectations and detail in their relationships.

Guys are simple animals. We have big broad rules that we learned early on in the playground and from our fathers and brothers and as long as they are adhered to, everything else is small time.

That’s why women can have these petty little incidents that escalate with their lifelong friends and that’s it…the friendship ends and it ends with a bang sometimes too. Guys don’t have things like that. If I don’t call one of my friends for a month or whatever or we have some argument which gets a bit heated about something, we’ll back off and start again from some mutually comfortable point. Sometimes friendships for men will just end because it isn’t working out. We have ways of telling and ways of showing which don’t cause a scene or any great discomfort. Male pride does have its benefits sometimes.

I wish this was true in ending relationships with women but it isn’t.

A good friend of mine told me a woman she’d been fairly friendly with suddenly told her, “I’m making a big effort to simplify my life, cutting out a lot of activities and so on – and you’re one of the things I’m cutting.”

Her feelings were hurt at first, but thinking it over, she realized she’d never been very fond of this woman and didn’t miss her at all.

Thanks for all the input guys! I think the avoidance option will be the best course. Lots of really interesting feedback. I’m glad I’m not the only person who struggles with letting a friend go.

Wow, you must be a big hit with the ladies. Gee, women are petty and spiteful. Bored now.
Maybe these “petty” incidents are the straw that broke the camels back? I think it’s more important for a woman to know what she wants and deserves rather than put up with crappy, demeaning behavior. This applies to friendships, dating, and marriage. The time of put up or shut up is over. Deal with it.