Friendships are an important part of life, but sometimes they run their course or fall apart. Knowing when a friendship is ending or over can be confusing and painful. There are some key signs that indicate a friendship is no longer working or coming to an end. Being aware of these signs can help you come to terms with the change and decide whether the friendship is worth saving or if it’s time to let go.
One of the most obvious signs a friendship is ending is that the interactions and dynamic between you and your friend have changed. Here are some ways your interactions with a friend might shift when the relationship is no longer working:
- You don’t communicate as much. There are fewer texts, calls, get-togethers, or conversations.
- When you do interact, it feels off. The chemistry or ease you once shared is gone.
- More miscommunications come up. You seem to be misinterpreting each other or not understanding where the other is coming from.
- One person does most of the initiating. The friendship feels one-sided if one friend is always reaching out while the other rarely reciprocates.
- Interactions are negative or tense. Time together is no longer relaxed and enjoyable.
- You argue or disagree more. You seem to always butt heads on certain topics.
- There are more critical comments. You or your friend are noticing each other’s flaws more.
- The other seems disinterested. They seem distracted, bored, or disengaged during interactions.
If you notice your conversations have changed, it likely means the friendship dynamics are shifting as well. The friendship may no longer be satisfying or meeting the needs of both people involved.
Pulling Away from Each Other
In addition to changed interactions, friends who are drifting apart also start to pull away from each other. Signs of this include:
- Making plans together stops. You rarely do activities or hang out.
- Not opening up anymore. You used to confide in each other, but now you don’t share as much.
- Secrets and lies build up. There are things you don’t tell the other person.
- Outside relationships take priority. The friend spends more time with a significant other, family, or new friends.
- No more physical affection. Hugs, handshakes, or other gestures of friendship stop.
- The other seems reluctant to make plans. Excuses like being too busy start coming up.
- You spend less quality time together. Interactions become shorter, more superficial, and focused on catching up.
- Things you used to enjoy doing as friends hold less appeal. The fun has gone out of the friendship.
This distancing is a surefire sign things are changing. If you no longer make effort toward closeness and vulnerability with your friend, it indicates you are withdrawing from the friendship.
As friendships decline, both people also start to invest less in the relationship overall. Signs of decreased investment include:
- Forgetting important details about each other’s lives.
- Not being as available for emotional support.
- Putting less effort into visits, gifts, favors, etc.
- No longer defending or having the other’s back.
- Not wanting to work through problems that arise.
- Holding onto grudges or hurts rather than forgiving.
- Being unwilling to compromise or meet halfway.
- Feeling apathetic rather than sympathetic about what’s happening in the other’s life.
- Spending less quality time together.
When investment flags, you end up not knowing or caring as much about your friend. This lack of interest and care demonstrates the friendship bond is weakening.
Value and Interest Changes
As people grow and change, friends can begin valuing different things and losing shared interests. Notice these signs of evolving values and interests:
- Not sharing the same sense of humor anymore.
- No longer enjoying the same activities together.
- Wanting to talk about different topics.
- Having opposing views on big issues like religion, politics, or lifestyle choices.
- Judging each other for new interests that develop.
- Disliking each other’s new friends or significant others.
- One pursues self-improvement while the other does not.
- You outgrow aspects of the friendship you once enjoyed.
When core values and interests are no longer aligned, you’ll find you have less in common with your friend at a fundamental level.
It’s common for long-term friends to hurt each other sometimes or go through periods of jealousy. But if negative feelings and resentments do not get resolved, they can damage the friendship over time. Signs of unresolved resentment include:
- Bringing up the past repeatedly.
- Making subtle digs or snippy comments.
- Withholding affection or support.
- Being unwilling to accept an apology.
- Sabotaging or undermining the other.
- Feeling secretly glad when something bad happens to them.
- Talking negatively about them to others.
- Holding grudges over things that happened a long time ago.
If hurt feelings and grievances pile up without any effort to heal the friendship, trust and care erode away.
Another friendship deal breaker is dishonesty. Signs of dishonesty or falseness include:
- Exaggerating stories or accomplishments.
- Lying to avoid uncomfortable situations.
- Hiding parts of yourself or your life.
- Being fake polite when you want to criticize.
- Talking behind the other’s back.
- Revealing secrets told to you in confidence.
- Being unreliable or breaking promises.
- Placating the other instead of being truthful.
Dishonesty corrodes trust. When you cannot rely on or be real with someone, it prevents true intimacy from developing in the friendship.
Healthy friendships involve mutual caring, listening, and support. But sometimes they become imbalanced with one person doing most of the emotional heavy lifting. Signs of a one-sided friendship include:
- Giving much more advice and support than you receive.
- Always being the one to initiate contact and make plans.
- Feeling drained after interactions instead of energized.
- Having to tamp down or hide parts of yourself.
- Not feeling heard, seen, or understood.
- Feeling like an afterthought instead of a priority.
- Being taken for granted or taken advantage of.
When support and effort are one-directional, resentment can build up. Deep connection disappears without mutual vulnerability and care.
Childhood friends often compete over toys, games, or attention. But mature adult friendships should not feel competitive. Signs of unhealthy competition include:
- Becoming jealous over the other’s success.
- Criticizing each other’s life choices.
- Gloating when something bad happens to them.
- Feeling like you have to prove yourself.
- Being condescending, critical, or patronizing.
- Pointing score on who has it worse.
- Making backhanded compliments.
- Seeing the other more as a rival than a friend.
Competition breeds distrust, pettiness, and superficial relating. It destroys the sense of mutual support vital for friendship.
Friendships turn toxic when patterns of harmful behavior emerge. Toxic friendship signs include:
- Manipulating or exploiting the other’s emotions or insecurities.
- Excluding, shunning, or attempting to isolate the other from other relationships.
- Starting unnecessary drama or spreading gossip.
- Crossing established boundaries or being possessive.
- Reacting badly when you assert needs or boundaries.
- Blowing up with hurtful emotional outbursts.
- Refusing to take responsibility for their behavior.
- Blaming or shaming you for how they feel or treat you.
Toxic friendships will erode your self-esteem, mental health, and well-being. Although it’s hard, cutting ties with toxic friends is often necessary.
As friendships decline, you may notice an increase in apathy, indifference, or boredom toward the relationship. Signs of apathy include:
- Feeling annoyed by the other’s presence.
- Wishing interactions would end sooner.
- Having little interest in catching up when apart.
- Only staying connected out of habit or obligation.
- Forgetting details about them or repeat stories.
- Being indifferent to their problems or good news.
- Taking them for granted.
- Feeling the friendship now requires effort to maintain.
When you’re apathetic about someone who used to matter, it usually means the relationship has run its course. The emotional connection is gone.
Avoiding Each Other
As problems and disinterest mount, friends in a failing relationship start avoiding spending time together. Signs include:
- Frequently turning down or cancelling plans.
- Always being “too busy” when asked to get together.
- Avoiding one-on-one time by only meeting in groups.
- Bailing early or showing up late to avoid real interactions.
- Ignoring the other’s phone calls, texts, emails, or attempts to reach out.
- Withdrawing from social media connections.
- Physically distancing from each other or relocating.
- Making excuses or bringing other friends to avoid being alone together.
While drifting apart is natural, outright avoidance is a clear sign something is wrong. It often means the friendship has become uncomfortable or distressed in some way.
Feeling Relieved When Apart
As relationships decline, you may actually feel happier, lighter, and more like yourself when your friend is not around. Notice if you feel:
- Less worried, anxious, or upset when they’re not with you.
- More relaxed and positive.
- Free to do activities you enjoy without criticism or guilt.
- You can focus better on work, hobbies, or self-care.
- Your mood and confidence improves.
- You’re not walking on eggshells or feel pressured to be a certain way.
Wanting more time apart from someone who was once inseparable is a telling sign. It means the relationship is now bringing negatives that outweigh the positives.
Different Visions of the Future
Lastly, changing life trajectories can also cause friendships to end. Signs of this include:
- You talk about wanting very different futures.
- You’re planning to live in different places.
- One wants to get married and have a family while the other does not.
- You envision spending your free time and retirement in incompatible ways.
- Differing goals, priorities, or philosophies on life emerge.
- Your visions of an ideal lifestyle no longer match up.
- You cannot picture the other fitting into your life years from now.
Diverging paths make it hard for some friendships to weather major life changes and transitions that come with growing older.
Friendships often change as people grow and evolve over the years. While bittersweet, dissolving a friendship that is no longer fulfilling, balanced, or healthy can be a positive. It opens you up to new relationships and connections that align better with who you are now.
If you notice multiple signs it’s time to let a friendship go, consider:
- Taking space and time apart from the friend to evaluate your feelings.
- Having an honest conversation about how your relationship has changed.
- Seeking counseling to work through any hurts or issues.
- Accepting that drifting apart does not erase positive memories and times you once shared.
- Looking for new hobbies, groups, or causes to meet friends aligned with your values and interests.
- Speaking positively about the other person and wishing them well.
Although hard, ending unhealthy relationships allows room for meaningful new friendships and increased happiness. With self-reflection, patience, and courage, you can move forward in a positive direction.