• It can be hard to tell when a friendship has come to its natural end
  • It’s especially difficult if you’ve been mates for years and can hardly imagine life without them
  • Here’s how to tell if it really is time to say goodbye to that old friend
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Hanging out with them feels like a chore

We all have days where we’d rather stay curled up in bed than get up and go for a coffee with that friend we promised we’d see. But if this becomes a recurring problem and you find yourself dragging your heels every time you have to meet up with them – or flaking every single time – that’s not a good sign.

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Why does this happen? Licensed marriage therapist Jill Whitney tells Business Insider that you might have just naturally outgrown the friendship: “You and a perfectly nice friend can just drift apart. You may have been close at one point in your lives, but now your paths have diverged so much that when you get together, it’s awkward.” 

Hanging out with them makes you feel stressed or drained

In some cases, it’s more than just ‘awkward.’ Alarm bells should also be ringing if you leave any interaction with your friend feeling more stressed or tense than you did before. “If you find that every time you’ve been with a certain friend, you feel worse afterward, take a good look at what’s going on,” Whitney says. Ask yourself: why exactly do you feel bad?

Perhaps your friend is constantly negative, which is making you feel drained. Maybe they incessantly mock you and claim it’s just ‘banter.’ Or it could be that they patronise you and it’s grinding you down.

Speaking to Bustle, Christine Scott-Hudson, a licensed psychotherapist, also stresses the need to pinpoint why these feelings come up when you hang out with your friend. “Do you feel disrespected and put-down while you are together?” she says.

While it’s possible your friend might be going through a rough time and projecting some of their own feelings onto you, if you’ve been feeling this way for a few months, it’s probably more likely that your friendship has run its course. Or it may be that your friend is genuinely toxic – in which case, cut and run.

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You’re always the last to find out their news – or you’re reluctant to share your own news with them

Another sign that your friendship is failing is when you find out your friend’s latest life updates through other people or through social media, rather than directly from the friend themselves. Feeling like you’re the last to find out about your friend’s news – perhaps they have a new partner, new job, or new house – is a rubbish feeling, and no solid friend should purposely leave you out of the loop.

This can work both ways – perhaps you’re the one who feels reluctant to share your news, as you know your friend will downplay your success or belittle you. Speaking to The Healthy, relationship expert Cherie Burbach says: “Pay attention to those little nudges you get emotionally, the ones that make you pause before sharing good news with a friend.”

“If you hate to bring it up for fear she’ll put you down or make a snarky comment, then why would you want this person as a friend?”

So, if you’ve just heard that you’ve got a promotion at work and find yourself leaving your friend out of the text update you send your nearest and dearest, accept that maybe your relationship isn’t what it once was.

Frequent misunderstandings

Of course, it’s normal not to see eye-to-eye on literally everything. In fact, it’s healthy to disagree every once in a while. But if you’re locking horns more frequently, that’s not a good sign.

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Generally speaking, you should be more similar to your friends than dissimilar in terms of your beliefs and general outlook on life. That doesn’t mean you have to vote for the same parties and believe in the same religion – but you should both respect and understand each other’s choices and ideally have shared moral values. If one of you has changed a lot or shifted their perspective since you first met, perhaps it’s worth reevaluating whether you have all that much in common anymore.

If you’re arguing a lot, chances are you’re finding it difficult or impossible to resolve the reason you’re fighting in the first place. Maybe it’s the case that you’re getting frustrated over something which is actually fundamental to your friend’s personality. And if you’re bickering over something which is insurmountable, it may be best for you to part ways.

Everything feels one-sided

Licensed counsellor Kailee Place tells Business Insider that “if you’re pouring energy into someone who isn’t giving you the same treatment, it’s not a mutual friendship.”

She’s right. If your friendship feels one-sided, like you’re always the one messaging them first or doing them the favours, it’s a sign that they’re not willing to put as much effort into the friendship as you are. And that’s unsustainable in the long-term.

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Maybe you occasionally think “well, I won’t text them if they don’t text me!” and go days without contact before buckling and messaging them. But really, if contact ceases when you stop putting in effort, there’s no reason why you should bother anymore.

Place continues: “If you are finding your friend only pops up when they need something or they are going through a hard time – but often go silent or provide very little in your time of need – it’s time to say bye to this friend.”