• Keeping Friends

A teen asks: Should I cut off this friendship?

Published: November 11, 2014 | By | Reply Continue Reading
A 17-year-old with problems has a friend with another set of problems; she wonders if she should cut off the relationship.



I am a seventeen-year-old girl. I have a friend whom I’ve been friends with for an extremely long time. Unfortunately, she has had a very hard life. Her parents went through a terrible divorce so the mother went a bit mad. She moved in with her extremely loving father but still there are many issues.

Throughout this, I have been her rock. I stayed home with her on countless occasions instead of going out; that was out of pure love. I love her with all my heart and soul but at the moment she is forcing me to doubt her in ways that I never thought I would have to.

She has recently become friends with an extremely toxic girl. They are completely out of control. I won’t lie but I’m jealous because I miss my best friend. We have always had a lot of other friends but we always put each other first. Now I really feel like she is putting the other girl first. They are doing all the things together that we used to do. They are, at the age of 17, drinking every single night. I am not one to judge, but she is completely out of control because of this girl and is becoming just like her.

I was recently diagnosed with clinical depression, and she has done nothing to be there for me. I attempted to commit suicide and still she chooses partying with this girl instead of me.

Should I cut off the friendship? Is it no longer worth fighting for? I am desperate for answers.

Signed, Anna


Hi Anna,

You have been through a lot with and without your friend. No matter what anyone else is going through, your first responsibility has to be to yourself and your own health. Unless you nurture yourself, you won’t be very helpful to others. Even when flight attendants instruct passengers on safety precautions, they tell parents to put their own mask on, before attending to their kids. Helping themselves first goes against natural instinct. The reason parents need to put their oxygen masks on first is so they’re able to breath. Otherwise, they won’t be any help to their kids.

You’re the only one who can decide whether you want to remain in this friendship. Empathy for others is a wonderful quality, although a hard life is no excuse for treating you poorly. Best friends can go through periods where one is needier or one needs some space, but overall there should be nearly equal giving and taking.

I’m glad you’re able to realize you feel some jealousy toward the new friend. That shows a lot of insight. Lots of times people drink to self-medicate and forget their problems. Your friend might fall into this category. If you can look at her behavior as indicative of her pain and need for help, you might see her behavior differently. Of course that doesn’t make overindulging or illegal drinking okay.

You can’t fix your friend any more than your friend can fix you. Sometimes friends, while trying to be helpful, can actually prevent troubled friends from seeking the professional help they truly need. If you had a big cut on your leg, a band-aid might cover the injury, but if you need stitches, the bandage won’t fix cut.

I hope you’re seeing someone to help manage your depression and to process your suicide attempt. Having your friend around at that time probably would have been comforting, though what you most needed was professional help. I can see why you feel hurt she wasn’t there. I’m glad medical professionals who could save your life were able to do so.

Back to your question about what you should do about your friend—whether to cut off the friendship: You don’t necessarily have to do anything drastic.

  • You can do nothing and let your anger and hurt feelings deepen (which I don’t recommend).
  • You can have a discussion with your friend about your concerns for her and your hurt feelings.
  • If your friend doesn’t respond well to your concerns, you can share your fears with a school counselor or even her father. Only do this if you’re 100% sure your motives are concern for her safety and health and not because you feel jealous or angry.
  • You can take a step back and distance yourself emotionally while you’re both going through difficult times.
  • You can end the relationship.
  • Long time friendships can experience peaks and valleys of being close and less close. Other friends or romantic partners, children, jobs, education and health might come between you for a period of time. That’s okay—and can even be healthy—so you don’t develop a dependence on one person.  Also, other relationships add a freshness to who you are as a person while also providing new and interesting experiences.

I hope you’ll write back and let us know how you’re doing.

Signed, *Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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