• Handling Breakups

Feeling guilty about cutting off a friendship

Published: June 24, 2013 | Last Updated: June 24, 2013 By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
It’s normal to feel guilty about cutting off a friendship but if you have carefully considered the decision, don’t look back.


Hi Irene,

I recently had to walk away from a friend who I felt wasn’t the type of person that I should be with. (I’m going to call her Jane) Jane had been showing some signs that I thought were red flags. She would contact me by private messages every single night of the week, ask me to hang out with her and then plead with me when I told her that I couldn’t or wasn’t in the mood to hang out.

She called some of my writing ideas “strange”, and there was one time where I confided in her about something and asked her to keep it secret but she went and told somebody anyway. She told me she was trying to “help” me. I asked her to stop sending me private messages every single day of the week and when she asked why, I told her that I’m a quieter person and I don’t like talking every single day and that I preferred time to myself. She told me that I needed to “get out of this.”

I finally sent her an email message (a very polite one) saying that I was sorry but I just couldn’t be friends anymore and she sent me two nasty messages back. I feel guilty having had to walk away from her like this since she struggles with a lot of things in her life (learning disabilities, physical health issues, and a not-so-ideal family situation). I guess what I’m trying to ask is did I do the right thing by walking away?

Signed, Emily


Hi Emily,

Cutting off a friendship often makes the “dumper” feel as badly about the breakup as it does the “dumpee.” Ending a friendship with someone who has disabilities and/or personal problems can compound these feelings even more.

The fact that you feel guilty about ending your friendship with Jane suggests that you are an empathetic and sensitive person. It sounds like your friend simply demanded more from the relationship than you were able to give— despite your efforts to make the friendship work by setting boundaries that would have made it a more viable one for you. On top of that, Jane betrayed your trust and seems to have questionable judgment.

It’s natural to feel guilty about unilaterally ending a friendship and it’s also predictable your friend would feel upset and lash out at you. However, if you carefully considered your decision and communicated it to your friend as kindly as you could, don’t look back. Friendships are voluntary relationships: To work, two people need to derive pleasure from the friendship not just one. Moreover, if you couldn’t fulfill Jane’s need for closeness, it’s likely she felt somewhat frustrated by this relationship, too.

Hopefully, this will give both of you the opportunity to seek out other friendships that are more mutually rewarding and satisfying.

Best, Irene

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Category: How to get over a breakup

Comments (10)

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  1. Nomi says:

    I’d be like, “Way to take the high road, Jane. LOL. Good riddance and good luck.”

    This story reminds me of a great quote from Bette Davis. Not only was she a student of acting, but a student of people as well:

    “The weak are the most treacherous of us all. They come to the strong and drain them. They are bottomless. They are insatiable. They are always parched and always bitter. They are everyone’s concern and like vampires they suck our life’s blood.”

  2. Bree says:

    I’m new to this and on my phone at the moment… Does anyone know how to ask a question? Like, how Emily asked?

  3. Bree says:

    This sounds a bit similar to what I went through. I’m glad you let her go and moved on.

  4. Emily says:

    UPDATE: About 6 months after I walked away, Jane wanted to be friends again and start over. Things went ok for a while UNTIL she told me a blatant lie about my coworkers. She told me that nobody liked me working at the Goodwill store (where I currently work) and she also said that I didn’t work fast enough. I saw right through her because 1. She’s never been to my work place. 2. She’s never seen how I work. 3. She only knows 1 person I work with. 4. She claims she heard this from people I work with even though she only knows one of them. I cut ties with her in July FOR GOOD this time and I haven’t looked back since.

  5. Sally says:

    I think you did the right thing!

  6. Emily says:

    Irene, thank you so much for answering my question! Your response makes me feel a lot better! Amy, Sheryl, yes, I will keep my boundaries strong. I have already blocked her on Facebook and I have not spoken to her since receiving her two nasty messages and I never will reply to any other messages she might send in the future. I appreciate the help from you ladies as well. 🙂 Blessings!


  7. Amy says:

    I agree with Sheryl. Keep your boundaries strong. If she messages you again, don’t read her message and don’t reply. Remove her from your friends list or whatever social media you might share with her and if necessary block her. If you happen to run into her in public, be polite, but don’t engage other than saying hello. She sounds like the type of person who might get the wrong impression if you give her an inch.

  8. Sheryl says:

    Jane sounds too needy for her own good. It will take a very patient friend to be able to have a mutually fulfilling friendship with someone like her.

    • Julia says:

      Sometimes you have to end friendships that leave you unfulfilled and emotionally drained.

      • Emily says:

        You’re absolutely right, Julia. Sometimes a friendship has to be ended if they leave you emotionally drained. It’s just not worth hanging on to something that makes you feel awful.

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