In the Media: 8 Ways to end an unhealthy friendship gracefully (on

Published: March 29, 2014 | Last Updated: March 29, 2014 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading


March 23, 2014

Writer Shana Lebowitz speaks to experts and compiles a list of 8 tips for ending an unhealthy friendship on

There is never a “right time” but one of her tips from Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend relates to timing:

If you’re planning to break up over the phone, make sure you do it at the right time, psychologist Irene Levine, Ph.D. writes in Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend. In other words, try to avoid calling when the person is at work, spending time with family, or in another public situation where he or she might not feel comfortable talking. And no matter how you communicate your feelings, avoid starting the break-up conversation when the person is emotionally fragile, such as right after the end of a romantic relationship.  

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  1. Hally says:

    The “fade out” is passive and at worst conflict avoidant. I accept that people do it, but it’s unkind to let someone keep contacting you and THEN they have to realize they’ve been friend-dumped. I am esp. talking about closer friendships. I think the article says it’s okay for more casual friendships, not close ones. When a few close friends have tried that, I usually directly asked if something was up. Either we had a talk or they went silent, but it’s better to make the effort in a closer friendship. You know you tried.

    I did want to add I dislike Jan Yager’s fake hiatus approach. She suggests you lie and say, “let’s take a long break” and hope the person gets new friends and forgets you. This also underestimates and insults the dumpee’s intelligence–like we might not suspect it’s an ending? Like we might not have read about this online? Sad how a published expert would promote dishonesty. Sounds like the dumper is scared of facing a disappointed friend. I would rather someone be straight with me than end things in an extremely false way that sours things even more.

    • tanja says:

      I would prefer the “phase out” method. I have had a friend be honest and just dump me and not that I want to avoid conflict, but years passed and had a change of heart and circumstances were different in life and she contacted me and I couldn’t get passed it, so I just avoided the phone call. However, with the “phase out” method, what you are saying is NOT that I don’t like you anymore, but for me, I have done and it implies, that I am very busy right now, our lives do not mesh but you never know in the future. Well, I have a few old friends that we haven’t talked for years and all of a sudden, we found ourselves to be moms all at the same time and we reconnected through facebook and we are back in each other’s life and I know this may not be permanent, they may drift again depending on circumstance and all that, but at least the door is open. Now, with the friends, not many, one friend that “dumped” me, the door is shut closed forever, that when she needs someone in her life at a certain time, it will be awkward to pick up that call and connect again. So, I like the “phase out” because everyone has good qualities and bad ones, but my reasoning for losing touch and if people have done it to me, I don’t really notice because I know life gets busy. Paths go separate but they may connect again years down the road, one never knows, so phase out is a good method.

  2. Jarod says:

    Nearly 100% of the time, I feel the “fade out” method has been used on me. I wish I had known it was a technique earlier; it would have saved me from plenty of phone calls “checking in” with people who didn’t want to hear from me.

    This article actually made me realize that no hearing from someone can mean they don’t want to stay friends with you.

  3. tanja says:

    I disagree. The “fade out” method is good in all situations unless you are having sex with a person. Why close all doors. I think saying your are busy can go a long way. Years may pass and then suddenly you call them or they call you and the situation changes and you are friends again and one doesn’t even know you felt this certain way at a certain time in your life. Why close doors completely. I would prefer if all good friends even “faded” me out, if they felt a certain way, I mean I have a family and kids, I probably wouldn’t even notice or I would be very understanding because my life is busy as well and just feel better not having a confrontation and knowing in a couple of years if we bump into each other, it won’t be weird.

    So, unless it is a romantic relationship and you “owe” the person that much, I think the “phase out” works just fine.

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