7 Strategies People Use to End Friendships
Research on how people end friendships identifies seven major strategies and 43 specific actions taken, shaped by personality, age, and gender.
Friendships are key to satisfaction, rivaling relationships with family and romantic partners to provide often life-long support unencumbered by the demands of genetic influence or, typically, sexual entanglement.
Friendship, defined by Apostolou, in a recent research paper in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (2023), is “a long-term relationship of mutual affection and support between genetically unrelated individuals”, serves important functions of support and assistance favored by evolutionary forces of survival.
Friendships provide family- and partner-like support during times of stress and fullness, going beyond practical interdependence to create an intimate bond based in close attachment, forming the basis of a tight-night community. In addition to support, friendship also serves to stave off loneliness (shown to be detrimental to well-being), as a way to promote the search for a mate, and to advance personal goals through collaborative effort. On that last point, nowadays more than ever, the critical role of relationship in business development has become ever clearer.
Ripping Off the Band-Aid vs. the Slow Burn
With an interest in studying specific strategies people use to end friendships, Apostolou notes that there are two big buckets: immediate termination and gradual termination, each with pros and cons. The benefit of immediate termination is that whatever negatives there are in being friends stop immediately, but there is a risk of consequences, including conflict, retaliation, and unnecessary harshness, along with “burning bridges”. Gradual termination is more palatable, leaving room for continuing acquaintanceship, less risk of conflict and retaliation, and keeping the door open to either rekindling the friendship or gaining benefit from the other person, who may (for example) have useful expertise independent of being a suitable friend.
People end friendships for several reasons, including loss of affection, clashing of values, and distress in the…