• Handling Breakups

In the Media – The Grownup Way To Break Up with a Friend (Huffington Post)

Published: December 3, 2016 | Last Updated: February 10, 2017 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
HuffingtonPost (screenshot)

HuffingtonPost (screenshot)


There is never a simple or easy way to break up with a friend but some ways are more acceptable than others.

Writing for The Huffington Post in an article entitled “There is An Acceptable Way To Break Up With A Friend. This Is It,“ relationships editor Betty Wong interviewed a number of psychologists to formulate some advice on breaking up like a grownup.

She writes:

Phasing out friends is tricky, and few people do it well. It’s easier to do it dirty, ghosting friends like a common Tinder match or texting back, “Sorry, I’m busy with the kids tonight” until they finally get the picture.

In addition to offering tips for deciding whether or not to breakup, Wong offers some strategies for doing it right, that is doing it as respectfully as you can. After all, this person was once your friend.

She quotes Dr. Levine in emphasizing the point that a decision like this deserves a great deal of forethought and individualized to the unique circumstances of the friendship.

When you initiate a breakup, you need to consider the personalities of both people involved in the breakup, the nature of the friendship/relationship,  and the reason (s) for the breakup. Wong writes?

“Don’t make a decision lightly,” said Irene S. Levine, a psychologist and author of The Friendship Blog  “Once you break up you’ll never be able to restore the friendship to the same level of intimacy.”

You can read the Huffington Post article in its entirety here.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Amy F says:

    I think debriefing mutual friends early on is the wrong approach, because it places them in a position of triangulation. If they ask, just say you and the former friend aren’t as close as you once were. Take the high road, even if your former friend does not. If you need to vent, do so with people who don’t know your former friend. If you have mutual friends with whom you both social as a group, ending a friendship has more potential consequences than “demoting” the person to cordial acquaintance is a much better approach no matter what happened.

  2. Sandra says:

    Great article, and the timing is especially good right now. I think the key factor in “how to break up” depends a lot upon the level and nature of the individual friendship.

    If you’re dealing with a work colleague who wants to become a social friend and you only want to remain professional friends, for instance, you have to be careful. In that case, keeping a “distance”and saying you are too busy to get together outside the work environment would be much better than saying you simply don’t want to be social friends. Likewise, I think ghosting is more appropriate in the case of a casual friend who hasn’t been an intimate friend, or someone you don’t see regularly. I have a couple of casual friends — legacy friendships — who like to get together for lunch a few times a year as a group. I don’t really have anything in common with that group anymore, but I don’t feel I hang with them often enough to “break up” with them officially. I just say I’m busy and cannot get together. That seems more humane to me.

    In the case of a longtime best friend — a friend with whom you share a sincere, give-and-take relationship and a long history of real closeness, I agree that being honest and making a formal “break” is in order.

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