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Friends are unique — they're the people we actively choose to have in our lives, to laugh with, to cry with, to share moral dilemmas with, to enjoy shared activities with, to give us a helping hand, and to give all that back to as well. While much of the available research about friendship focuses on children and adolescents, we all benefit from friendships. Just as a good friend can lift you up while you do the same for them, though, a toxic friendship can drag you down, and actually increase your risk of mental health problems. 

People change, and friendships change with them. Letting go of a friendship can be painful and represent real loss, but it can also, ultimately, bring relief in some cases. What are some of the signs that you should let your friendship fade away?

Your 'Friendship' Has Become A One-Way Street

Have you noticed that your friendship has become a one-way street — with either you or your friend putting nearly all the effort into maintaining it? No matter which side of this equation you're on, this friendship requires reevaluation. 

If you're the one who's always making the effort to keep in touch, while your friend (almost) never makes contact with you, you may have to come to terms with the possibility that the other person simply no longer cares enough to keep your friendship alive — and you may consider letting the friendship fade out. (Your friend just not answering your calls or emails is a sure-fire sign that they're letting the friendship fade out gently. Get a clue if you don't want to be told less diplomatically!)

If you are the one who's been neglecting the friendship, on the other hand, you'll want to look at why. Do you want to keep your friend in your life? Commit to showing initiative more often. Would it honestly be a relief not to hear from the other person again? This is a clear sign that your friendship is already over.

An extreme version of the one-way friendship is a situation in which the other person frequently asks you for all sorts of things, from advice to practical help, without ever reciprocating. These kinds of relationships become draining and even toxic, and present a clear signal to run away if it goes on for rather a while. 

Your Friend Does Stuff You Can't Live With

This is a rather broad category, including anything from (for some people) divergent political or religious ideas and a fondness for gossip, to your friend sleeping with your partner or borrowing money they never return. If your friend has crossed your line or you have theirs, the friendship may end with a clear and obvious conclusion, or you may mutually decide to just not get in touch with each other anymore without much drama. Hopefully the latter. 

You Simply Don't Enjoy Each Other's Company Any Longer


This happens too. New stages in life change people, and you may simply no longer gel well. You no longer have anything to talk about that you actually both enjoy talking about, and your friendship is reduced to polite chit-chat. You don't have mutual interests that could make your friendship work on a "do stuff together" level, either. This is sad, but you'll nearly inevitably come across situations like this, even in friendships that have lasted for decades.

Other Factors Make Your Friendship Unpleasant 

So, you and your friend still really like each other, but you can't stand their kids, their partner, the huge income disparity between you two, or you now live so far away from each other that maintaining your friendship has become hard. If the obstacle is greater than your mutual wish to stay friends, your friendship will peter out — and that's OK. 

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