Ending a rocky friendship

If you’ve decided that a friendship just isn’t working,
you might feel the urge to end it in some sort of formal way.

This can be extra tempting if you’re upset with your friend, and think that things would be easier if they were just out of your life. It’s your decision, but it’s important to really think it through. When emotions are high it can be hard to see all the implications that a break-up might have.

That's It! It's Over!

On second thought...

They’ll be out of my life for good!

If they go to the same school or live in the same area as you, it might not be so simple.  If this is someone you’ll still see regularly, keeping things civil is probably a good idea.

I’ll surround myself with real friends!

If your real friends are part of a mutual friend group, things could get complicated. Your friends might not have any desire to cut ties with this person.  Pressuring them to do so, or asking them to choose sides isn’t fair to them, and could end up causing lots of hurt feelings and friction.

Our friendship was doomed from the beginning – it would have never worked.

When you’ve had a fall-out, it’s hard to see beyond your incompatibilities. Try to remember that things change, and there’s always a chance you might reconsider your decision to end it.  If you have been respectful and civil, it’s much easier to re-friend someone.

Break-up alternatives

You don’t need to have a dramatic breakup to make a little space for yourself. Start small by not calling as much. If your friend still wants to talk a lot, you can always make a deal with yourself to answer every other phone call. You can also cut back on how often you spend time together – this could mean hanging out in groups, but not just the two of you. 

Stepping back from this person might be a way of staying friendly while respecting your own desire to have things change.

Break-up etiquette

If you’ve thought it through and really feel that a formal break-up is necessary, here are some basic break up dos and don’ts.


  • Don't break up with them on their Facebook wall, or in any other public way that is likely to leave them feeling hurt and humiliated
  • Don't get someone else to relay the message for you
  • Don't use this as a time to list all of your friend’s shortcomings, or rehash all of the things they’ve ever done that have bothered you
  • Don't gossip about the person, or tell anyone who’ll listen about their character flaws
  • Don't try to get mutual friends to choose sides


  • Talk to them one-on-one
  • Be respectful about it; explain why it’s not working as neutrally as possible
  • Prepare yourself to face anger, hurt feelings, or questions
  • Stay calm; don’t let yourself get drawn into an argument

Now what?

It might be really hard to get over an old friendship, even if you know that ending it was the right thing for you. Try not to doubt yourself. Remember, you made this choice for YOU. For the time being, it’s important that you:

  • Take care
    Ending a friendship can be really stressful, so be sure to get enough sleep, eat properly, and exercise.
  • Be positive
    It might help you to think about the space you’ve just made in your life—space for other friends to come in!
  • Stay strong
    Don’t doubt yourself. You’ve thought this through carefully and know it’s best for you. Be proud of yourself for having the strength to do this.
  • Find new friends
    Try to find new friends. You might start by sitting somewhere else at lunch. You can also try joining a team or club where you can meet new people. And be sure to check out our tips on the making friends page.

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Last Reviewed August 2013 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team

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