Telling a Friend Goodbye: How to Break Up With a Toxic Friend

In healthy friendships, both parties provide each other companionship and kindness. Understandably, there will be times when you disagree and experience rough patches—that’s normal in any relationship, friendships included. However, if your friend causes you heartbreak all the time, it might be time to say goodbye.

Breaking up with a toxic person can be difficult for most people. For starters, you need to know how to confront a toxic friend. Often, people don’t know how to tell a toxic friend goodbye or how to tell a friend they are toxic. If you are in the same situation, you are likely wondering what to say to a toxic friend or how to deal with a toxic friend.

However, no one should put up with a toxic friend, including you. Saying goodbye to a friendship begins is easier once you are able to identify that they are toxic. Recognizing you are in a toxic friendship brings you a step closer to ending a destructive and futile relationship.

Just like any break up, saying goodbye to a friend is always easier said than done. After all, you once cared for that person a lot, have spent quality time with them, and have created wonderful memories together. Fortunately, there is a way to dump a friend nicely, even a toxic one. But first, you need to identify if your friend is toxic.

How to Identify a Toxic Friend

A toxic friend is:

Someone who is threatened by your success.

A great friend will always be happy for you. They would love to see you succeed. However, if you find your friend speaking badly about your good fortune, consider that your cue to re-examine your friendship. Other red flags to look for? If they judge you and berate you and rain on your parade, then it’s time to cut ties.

Someone who always talks about themselves.

Friendship requires sharing, even the spotlight. However, a toxic friend will either steal the spotlight or overshadow your progress. At times, it can be very bad that if the topic is not about them, you won’t have a conversation at all. Also, it is not healthy if you don’t feel safe talking to your friend about anything that’s bothering you.

Someone who is not happy when you have other friends.

Regardless of the nature of your friendship, you need to have the freedom to meet other people and make new friends and spend as much time with them as you need to or want. A toxic friend will give you a hard time if you want to spend time with others. Often, they can also make you choose between them and your new set of friends.

Someone who is a troublemaker.

While it’s normal for friends to have disagreements, it should not become the norm in your friendship. If your friend finds it hard to let go of something you did in the past, it’s a red flag that indicates you are with a toxic person.

Someone who is not willing to fix things.

In healthy and genuine friendships, it is unlikely that one person is always at fault. That said, neither of you should feel like you have to compromise most of the time, if not all the time. A toxic friend will always think they’re right and won’t even listen to you.

Someone who is no longer fun to be around.

If you have reached the point where being around your friend has become a pain, it is likely time to reconsider your friendship.

How to Break Up with a Toxic Friend

Breaking up with a toxic friend is no walk in the park. However, the following steps should get your effort off to a great start:

Address your issues.

Before you ditch your friendship for good, consider going the direct route—addressing whatever issues you have with your friend. This is also the fair thing to do especially if you want to bring an end to the friendship, so the other party won’t feel blindsided. Ideally, you need to address issues without being judgmental or confrontational.

There is a way to bring any offensive behavior to their attention without being confrontational. You also need not discount the fact that at times, some people don’t realize they are being offensive. However, it is important that you do not always bite your tongue when you are being offended. Say something about it and see where it goes.

Create clear boundaries.

One way to break up with a toxic friend for good would be to create clear boundaries. More importantly, make sure you firmly affirm your boundaries each time they cross the line or take things a bit too far. 

Let them know that respect is a primary foundation in any relationship, including your friendship. It is also advisable to inform them you are not willing to put up with their toxic antics anymore and their behavior is not acceptable.

Prioritize yourself.

Make yourself a priority by not feeling guilty about breaking things off with them or hurting their feelings. At the end of the day, it will all boil down to who you say yes to and how you value yourself. 

If you allow them to walk all over you, it means you are not prioritizing yourself and not letting others know how you want to be treated. If you no longer feel valued or respected, it is time to ditch that friendship for good.

Ask yourself a few important questions.

To help you assess if your friendship is doing more harm than good, it would help if you  honestly answer a few important questions. Some of the important questions you need to ask include:

  • Can I trust my friend?
  • Is my friend committed to excellence and growth?
  • Does my friend respect me and care about me?
  • Do we bring out the best in each other?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, it is a clear sign that the other party does not have anything worthwhile to contribute to your life and to your friendship.

Don’t let them make you feel like you have to explain yourself.

You don’t need to explain to anyone if you decide on something that’s in your best interest. If you know in your heart that the friendship needs to come to an end, keep the breakup simple and drama-free, leaving no room for arguments. Start the challenging process by honestly telling how you feel.

You can also tell them kindly and calmly that you no longer have space for them in your life and you can leave it at that. Explaining yourself and giving long drawn justifications for your decision is not necessary. Know in your heart it is the best decision and you have nothing to feel guilty about.

Talk things over in a public setting.

Having the conversation in public will not only lessen the possibility of the other party creating a scene, it also gives you the option to end the interaction on your terms. If you encounter problems or if things escalate, you can always get up and leave. 

Unfriend them on social media.

Once you decide to put an end to the friendship, there is no need for either of you to know what the other party is up to. Unfortunately, social media can provide unnecessary information on each other’s whereabouts.

This can sometimes lead to feelings of resentment and jealousy—feelings you are better off without. Ensure the end of the friendship is clean and complete. Don’t leave any connections that might lead them back to you.

Dissociate yourself gradually.

As soon as you have made up your mind, start dissociating yourself as soon as possible. Don’t answer their calls anymore and decline any invitation to hang out. Ideally, you need to surround yourself with people who love and care about you genuinely.

If you are not getting the love, care, and respect you deserve, it’s time to let them go and move on. By firmly phasing them out, they’ll get the message that the friendship has run its course.

Release any negative feelings.

If you want to let go of any negative feelings about the end of the friendship, consider writing three letters to your friend. The first one should be to express and release any pent-up emotions you may have. Use a softer approach and more compassion for the second letter.

The third letter should contain the role you could have played in the friendship that inhibited it from thriving and lasting. Don’t send any of the letters though. Instead, use them as an outlet to release any negative feelings and let go for good.


Ending a toxic friendship can be difficult. However, it is necessary if you want to live a fun, happy, and fulfilling life.