How to tell it’s time to break up with your best friend

The hardest decisions can be the healthiest in the long run


Eryn* and I met over the summer before our junior year, and we become best friends almost immediately when she transferred to my high school in the fall. People at school literally thought we were lesbian because we were always together. We had the same classes, snuck off campus to lunch, sang Spring Awakening all day long, went on midnight adventures, everything. I spent more time in her car than my own.

In the beginning, I was 100 percent happy with our relationship. I thought I was an indispensable friend, that my life was boring while Eryn’s was beautiful and exciting, and that I was lucky to tag along.

But our contrasting personalities became more pronounced as we grew closer. She would always read my texts and never respond, but then call at 2am to rant about so-and-so, or gush about this week’s boyfriend who drove an Audi. I was supportive of her ever-revolving stream of boyfriends, all the while knowing that with each new addition, I would be ignored for a few days, or until whenever the boredom set in.

After a while, I could tell that Eryn didn’t really care about having a particular person as a best friend; she only cared about having a person. Despite aloofly insisting that she didn’t “need anybody,” she was constantly vying for attention from new people.

Gradually, I realized that I was valuing her every need and desire above any of my own, and came to the heartbreaking conclusion that I had to break up with my best friend.

These are the signs it’s time to call it quits.

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You’re drifting apart

I don’t mean technically, like moving away, starting college, or maintaining a full time job – these are challenges to staying in touch with a friend, but not impossible to overcome. However, progressively drifting apart in terms of personality can be a hint that this relationship isn’t the best for your growth.

Previously shared activities or common interests, such as being on a sports team together in high school, can dwindle as people develop in different stages of life. In this way, a loss of friendship could be less painful, as you are busy exploring new experiences and relationships.

On the other hand, getting to know someone more deeply can shed light on aspects of their character that might cause you to grow apart instead of closer. We all have a friendly, first-acquaintance filter that slowly peels away the longer we know someone. In some relationships, these connections create tight friendships, but in others, they cause problems.

So, whether you’ve simply grown apart or discovered that your best friend wasn’t the person you thought they were, it’s better to exit an uncomfortable relationship sooner than later.

The lack of reciprocity

Always being the person who texts “Hey how are you?:)” which, depending on the day, is either quietly ignored or blasted with the latest, dramatic sob story, is very draining. Or, your suggestions of hanging out are consistently slapped with “Oh dang sorry I’m doing xxxx with xxxx that night….” or “Nah, but why don’t we do xxxx activity instead that I want to do.”

Loves, this is a one-sided relationship. Unequal and unfair. You are not a box of tissues with on-demand availability. If your reaching out is constantly snubbed by your “bestie,” they are not appreciating your value as a friend, and as a person. Yes, it hurts, but in the end, it’s useless having dozens of “half-friends” wasting space in your life. Move on.

Irreconcilable differences

We’re always told to “forgive and forget.” True, forgiving can provide an emotional release. But forgetting and overlooking heavy issues or circumstances that were extremely hurtful, perpetrates a damaging cycle. We as humans can hurt each other, we can cause pain. You shouldn’t have to block those cruel moments from your memory, and continue with your friendship like nothing ever happened. Sometimes, your best friend’s rude comment or mean action is completely heartbreaking, and irreparable. Listen, that is okay. It’s hard, I know. But you deserve a best friend that makes you smile when you think about them, not a person whose name triggers hurtful memories. Don’t allow yourself to be stuck in a relationship where you are constantly being battered.

Remember: you are too important to give your emotion and love to people who do not return it. Life is already stressful, surround yourself with people who add joy to your existence. Recognize that you are valuable and deserving of love and people who care about you. People who ask how you are and actually listen, rather than simply nod along and wait to interrupt with “me me me me me.”

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How to break up

For most people this is the hardest part. Do I ghost them? Do I outright say hey I don’t want to be friends anymore? There’s no correct answer. Think about your past friendship, and what type of ending feels most suitable and healthy for you. For some people, it might mean complete cutting of ties: deleting contacts, unfollowing, etc. For others, it’s a respectful, but not ultimate, parting of ways. Follow your heart.

How to heal

It’s hard to be without that best friend. To not hear their laugh, to want to call them and share happy news, to miss their presence. And unfortunately, it’s not a simple recovery process. You won’t wake up a few months later miraculously healed, because emotions don’t work that way. It’s a process. And with time and distance, you will be able to put the negative, however nostalgic, energy of that bad best friend behind you, and focus on moving forward. Be a good friend, and you will find good people.

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