• Keeping Friends

Letting go of old friendships is never easy

Published: March 5, 2012 | Last Updated: December 21, 2016 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading

It’s always hard to give up on a friendship, especially one that has a long history and childhood memories.


Dear Irene,

I’m 26 years old and have known my best friend since kindergarten. She’s always been hot and cold—one day we’re friends, the next day we aren’t.

Last year she was going through a tough time. She accused me of not being there for her and would yell at me over the phone and send nasty emails to me. When I tried to talk to her about it, she just grew defensive and blamed it all on me. I tried my best to help her, but she just pushed me away. So we haven’t talked in months now.

She emailed and sent me cards, but I know that she is just being nice for now. Then she will eventually act coldly towards me and the whole cycle with start again. I’m sick of this, what should I do?

Thank you for your help.

Signed, Susan


Hi Susan,

It’s always hard to give up on a friendship but especially one that has a long history and childhood memories. Friendships like this are irreplaceable so I can understand your reluctance to call it quits.

Given that you’ve witnessed these cycles over and over, I think you realize that you aren’t going to change your friend’s personality. So you need to decide whether it’s worthwhile to endure her moodiness/volatility to preserve the friendship, give up on the friendship entirely, or take another stab at making things better.

One possibility might be to send your friend a snail mail note or card at this point explaining that you treasure this friendship but there seem to be recurrent conflicts between you. You could suggest that you remain friends but see each other less frequently.

Setting limits and taking a definitive stand like this could make her more aware of her behavior.  It would be a nice surprise if she responds in a conciliatory way and tries to keep her outbursts in check when you’re together. If she reacts angrily to your proposition, you may just have to let go for now and take a break from the friendship as disappointing as that may be.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog that touch upon childhood legacy friendships:




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Comments (6)

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  1. DLJ says:

    I have found that many times it is difficult for me to end a relationship because the attachment I had was more about what was lacking in me, than it was about the other person being the “right” person for me. What I mean is that we often are attracted to others who have what we lack. The reason is because we don’t take the time to get to know ourselves before launching in to a relationship with another.

    It is hard for us to let go of that other person at the end because we are subconsciously letting go of what we believe is an aspect of what is lacking in ourselves. What has helped me in this regard and with other challenges when it comes to letting go is the cafe. It is http://www.LettingGoCafe.com.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is my dream job so I don’t plan on leaving. Thankfully, I haven’t had panic attacks yet. We work in different departments but our work spaces are adjacent to each other so we often pass in the hallway. We also have mutual colleagues/friends but recently she’s started avoiding get-togethers. I guess that’s a good thing. I have a feeling that this is her dream job, too, so I don’t think she plans on leaving anytime soon although I did have dreams of her switching jobs…then it would be easier. Thanks for your response. It’s appreciated.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There won’t be complete closure in that situation. I’ll defer to Irene, but some previous postings here concerning work ex-friendships suggest cordial interaction, and depending on how bad it is, possible job change. I’ve run into both situations. In one job, the friend I made turned against me when our boss turned against me. The problem was larger than the ex-friend, but it drove me to find another job when I began experiencing anxiety attacks. In another job down the road, a friend became indifferent, and I was able to work on new projects that didn’t involve her. There was always a slight awkwardness, but never bad enough to leave. Eventually, she did move on to a different job, and then I did too. Filling the painful void by establishing new patterns involving the least amount of exposure and thoughts to the ex-friend also helps a lot.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Susan – Your instincts are telling you it’s time to sever all ties.

    Some people measure how much you care (and therefore their worth) by how hard you’ll try to appease them when they’ve abused you. It’s a twisted kind of power play.

    Blowing hot and cold is a form of abuse. You’ve known her from kindergarten to now at 26 years of age —- well, whether she’s been this way for the entire time or the last few years, that’s enough time for this friendship to have affected your other relationships. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. She’s been betraying your trust long enough.

    Cut her loose. She’s toxic.

    Remember to pamper yourself as you heal.

  5. Anonymous says:

    After reading your message, I wonder if you have any advice for closure if the ex-friend works at the same place I do. That makes it hard for me to establish closure.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi – one of the previous legacy friendship posts listed by Irene was from me. It’s been about a year now since my attempted “reconciliation” transpired and this is my 2 cents: I understand how you may want to give another shot at this, but this time, if (and when) she runs cold again, you should give yourself permission to understand you did your best, and be at peace with yourself as you let this go.
    The sting and sadness may remain for a little while afterward, but the mental anguish you have been through will come to an end, and you will feel liberated.
    When I tried to reconcile with my friend of 13 years, she e-mailed me saying she was willing to let me back into her life, but in the course of a year all other actions, or rather lack thereof (be it unresponsive to phone calls, FB messages and e-mails inviting conversation) said otherwise. Sometimes, tuning into what a person does instead of says, says it all. Some people probably wouldn’t have given her a year, but to me that was MY benchmark for patience and tolerance. It ended up costing me more anguish over that year than had I not reached out at all, but at least I walked away from it with validated closure.

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