10 Signs You're Headed for a Friend Breakup
These are crucial indicators that your relationship could be fizzling out.
Ending a romantic relationship can be devastating, but it can be equally as tough when you and a friend decide to part ways. Sometimes these relationships end due to an argument or a violation of trust, but that's not always the case. Friendships can also dissipate slowly—and if you're not paying close attention, you might not see it coming. Thankfully, there are some clear signs that you're headed for a friend breakup, which you'll want to address sooner rather than later.
"Breaking up with a friend can be just as challenging as breaking up with a romantic partner, if not more, because we've often invested a lot into those friendships," Beth Ribarsky, PhD, professor of interpersonal communication at the University of Illinois Springfield, tells Best Life. "While we may have only been with a romantic partner for a few months, we may have been friends with someone for years."
If you're concerned that your friendship could be coming to an end, there are a few things to keep an eye out for in your relationship. Read on for 10 signs you're headed for a friend breakup.
You're disagreeing more often.
If you and your friend can't seem to agree on different topics, you may want to examine your relationship, according to Courtney Hubscher, MS, LMHC, NCC, of GroundWork Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
"Constant disagreements can serve as a key indicator that a friendship may be approaching its end," she says. "If you and your friend are continually at odds, struggling to find common ground, or frequently engaging in heated debates, it could be a sign of deeper, unresolved issues within the relationship."
Your conversations are superficial.
This sign is more subtle, but if you feel like your conversations lack depth or feel superficial, your friendship could be dissolving.
"This is a sign that they may be pulling away from you," Daniel Rinaldi, therapist and founder of Live Your F'N Life Coaching, tells Best Life. "Another similar sign is noticing that you and your friend no longer share common interests or even respect each other's interests and want to know more about them."
You're not communicating as much—or at all.
According to Rinaldi, a breakup could be imminent if you and your friend aren't talking as much anymore.
"If you used to talk or message regularly but now find yourself hardly exchanging a few words, it could be a sign that the connection is fading," he says.
"In strong friendships, the key sign that the relationship may be ending involves toxic, defensive behaviors such as stonewalling," she says. "If a once-true friend is no longer willing to communicate—to really work through issues that arise—the relationship really can't move forward."
If your friendship is more surface-level, a friend may even "ghost" you and stop answering your texts or calls.
You feel drained after you hang out.
Friendships should be primarily positive, and you should enjoy the time you spend together. However, some relationships don't serve us and can actually zap your energy.
"Spending time with a close friend should be refreshing and energizing," Hubscher says. "Feeling emotionally drained after seeing someone is a warning sign that things may not be as they once were."
On top of this, if you're also left not feeling good about yourself, it's another sign something is amiss, Abbey Sangmeister, LPC, approved clinical supervisor (ACS), entrepreneur, psychotherapist, and burnout coach, says.
The relationship is one-sided.
Another sign of an impending friend breakup is when you're putting in most of the effort. Take stock of your communication lately and determine if you're the only one reaching out and suggesting activities.
"Although all friendships ebb and flow [with] the amount of effort put forth by each party, a friendship that is headed toward a breakup will be largely one-sided," Ribarsky says. "You might find you're putting forth all the effort and getting nothing back. You're the one who always initiates calls. When they do answer, they seem uninterested in you and your life."
They may also call you when they want something but aren't interested in doing the same for you.
"Does it seem like your friend only calls or texts you when they need something? This could be a sign that the friendship is no longer as equal and balanced as it once was," Hubscher adds. "If one person in the relationship is always giving but never receiving, this can lead to feelings of resentment."
They're talking behind your back.
One of the worst feelings is hearing that someone you considered a friend has said something unkind behind your back. So, if your friend is actively gossiping about you, there's a certain level of trust that's violated.
"A strong friendship is based upon trust and openness," Ribarsky says. "However, if you're finding they're hiding information from you or gossiping about you, it shows an inherent distrust."
You may also find that you're tempted to talk about your friend with others, and it's probably not a good sign if you lack that respect for one another.
"If you and your friend are struggling to show each other mutual respect, it could be a warning sign that the friendship is in trouble," Hubscher explains. "This can include anything from name-calling or gossiping about one another, to feeling taken for granted, or talking behind each other's backs."
You now have different values.
According to Manly, changing perspectives and values can spell trouble for a friendship, too.
"One of the most critical signs of an impending friendship breakup is one person's realization that they are not aligned on core levels such as values and interests," she says. "When deal-breaking epiphanies arise—those 'aha' moments that illuminate critical differences—the ending of the friendship is often not too far behind."
"While it's possible, and important, to be friends with people who have different values, sometimes it means the relationship looks different, and you may not enjoy shared time together as much," she explains. "A healthy relationship can talk about varying values; a strained or fading relationship cannot."
They're criticizing you.
It's important for friends to build each other up, but there are also times when constructive criticism is warranted. However, nitpicking and constant putdowns are a different story—and friends who do this often may be trying to send you a message.
"Sometimes someone who lacks the emotional maturity to end a friendship will hope that if they criticize you enough or generally make you feel miserable, that you will be willing to be the 'bad guy' and end the relationship," Ribarsky says.
They're not interested in celebrating your wins.
When something big happens in life, we want to share the news with loved ones, including our close friends—and a friend who isn't interested in your successes could be one you need to break up with.
"I believe in meeting people where they are when it comes to their important and significant life's moments, so that may be getting a new job, having a baby, getting married, graduating, publishing a book, whatever it may be, big or small, your friends should want to celebrate and support you!" Olivia Dreizen Howell, certified life coach, clinical hypnotherapist, and founder of Fresh Starts Registry, tells Best Life.
She continues, "If they are having trouble supporting you through these moments, it may be a sign that your friends are losing touch with you and your friendship. Though this may sting a lot, remember it's often not about you, and sometimes they need space to figure out why they are having issues celebrating with you."
They don't make time for you.
Life gets busy for everyone, and there are periods when we just don't have time for weekly get-togethers or happy hours. But if you and your friend are seeing drastically less of each other, the friendship may be fizzling out.
"You might find your communication becomes less frequent, and they might turn you down for activities you used to do together," Ribarsky says. "Sometimes, this may just be due to them being busy or a change in life circumstances (e.g. new job, having children, moving). But, if you're finding they're hanging out with others and not inviting you or making time for you, it's likely a sign you're headed for a breakup."
On the flip side, if you also aren't interested in making time to see a friend, check in with yourself and determine why that is. According to Sangmeister, if you're ready for a friend breakup, you may turn down invitations and say you're busy rather than suggest alternative dates or times.
Signs may vary depending on the strength of your friendship.
According to Manly, while certain signs spell trouble, friendships that are "grounded by heartfelt connection and mutual TLC" can withstand some bumps in the road.
"Depending on the nature of the friendship—whether it's strongly rooted or fairly shallow—the signs of an impending breakup can manifest differently," she says. "What signals the ultimate demise of a shallower friendship may be felt as a temporary shift in a stronger relationship."
So, before you jump to too many conclusions, you may want to take a closer look at your relationship when trying to understand a friend's behavior.
"Having weathered life's challenges, disruptions, and changes, strong friendships tend to last unless a toxic behavior or negative pattern arises," Manly notes. "Strong friendships develop a natural resilience that allows for periods of less contact or maintenance. Friendships that have less of a genuine connection—those that are more based on convenience or superficial interests—often rupture or fade away more easily."
And if you do feel like you need to reconnect, you should reach out, advises Kristin Marguerite Doidge, writer and AMFT at Silicon Beach Psychotherapy in Los Angeles.
"Even a brief message saying 'I miss you' or 'I love you' can go a long way for both the sender and the receiver," Doidge says. "When we all do our best to be intentional about creating and maintaining strong social connections, it can make a big difference in how we feel about our sense of belonging and purpose in life."
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