When is it time to end a friendship?
March 16, 2023 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I am wondering when do you know it is time to end a stale friendship?

? I have been friends with someone for almost nine years and she is such a kind and down to earth person but I find we do not have a lot in common anymore and our talks are not as deep and interesting anymore and her politics do not match mine but I am not sure if I should hold onto it. I only have one other friend in my city and one four hours away and two virtual friends. I feel desperate for a friend and maybe I’m clinging onto this because I’m afraid I will not find another for I am picky. What should I do? Should I appreciate what I have even though it is not truly excuse — as I feel like she is not fascinating enough and I like deep talks and creative people.
posted by RearWindow to Human Relations (8 answers total)
Best answer: Friends are only valuable if you enjoy spending time with them, and it sounds like you don't actually enjoy spending time with this person at all? Or if you only mildly enjoy spending time with them, then deescalate the frequency of your hangouts, like to once every month or so.
posted by coffeecat at 3:33 PM on March 16 [5 favorites]

Ending a friendship is so dramatic. It's really only appropriate if there's been an egregious violation of trust or serious values misalignment.

Can you try just being less friends? Fade out? That's a very normal and ok thing to do over the course of human relationships. You don't have to spend time with anyone you don't want to spend time with, so just...don't do that. If questioned, just say you've been busy lately. It's the Great Lie of Adulthood.

There's value in keeping a wide circle of acquaintances. No need to burn this bridge just because this person doesn't fascinate you.
posted by phunniemee at 3:35 PM on March 16 [56 favorites]

Setting aside for a second your aside about politics, there's nothing wrong with having someone in your life you've known a long time, have an occasional pleasant conversation with, maybe get together with occasionally for lunch or a movie or some other time-limited hangout. Why not just dial back on the frequency of your conversations/hangouts until they're at a place where you feel good about the amount of your life this person occupies, and then carry on that way until/unless that's a problem for them, and use some of your freed-up time and energy on building some additional new relationships?

Please note you should only do that if you genuinely like and appreciate her in your life in some capacity. I can't tell if you do from the way you're talking about her.

Back to that aside: "her politics do not match mine" covers so much ground. I'm assuming here that it doesn't mean 'we have a fundamental disagreement about basic human rights and the full humanity of women, trans people, etc.' but that you have some sort of less-fraught disagreement about something that doesn't prevent you respecting each other's beliefs and opinions. If not, you might want to come back and tell us a bit more about what that's about, as that could be the actual deciding factor here, not whether she has interesting opinions about art.
posted by Stacey at 3:49 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]

I'm going through the "do I end this friendship or not" thing. I've decided to dial back the relationship a whole lot but not formally end it, because it's politic of me to stay on good terms with the person and it is at least somewhat likely we'll continue to be in the same space off and on. People aren't that likely to notice that you're dialing things back if you just happen to be busy a whole lot and/or you aren't in each other's lives/having a lot of contact usually. I have another friend who is well, my difficult friend, but it's easier to deal with when we're off and on in contact and get together a few times a year. I have less of issues with the stuff that bugs me when it's not in my face so often.

When you say you don't want to be friends any more, do you mean officially, publicly ending it and telling her so, or is it more like, dialing back the friendship/slow fading? Because the latter is probably the nicer way to handle it if there's no major reason to end it other than "she's boring me." You don't mention how often you're in contact in the first place (other than she's one of 2 friends you have in your actual town?), which should probably be a factor here, but if you're not like in each other's lives daily, you can just like, hang out less without having to officially kill it dead. If you're likely to run into her at the grocery store every few weeks, why not stay on good or at least casually friendly terms? That's probably more important to stay okay if you say, take a class together or have regular/consistent contact.

However, you mention the politics thing, and that is definitely a reason these days to kill a friendship dead if she has opposite/offensive/unsafe politics compared to yours, and/or likes to talk to them a lot. It doesn't sound like your primary motivation compared to finding her not so fascinating, but that sounds like the one major reason here that you might want/need to sever ties entirely. As Stacey says, is there more to it than that?
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:29 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]

If you find you don't like having deep conversations with this friend maybe they can be a friend you enjoy doing stuff with. I've got a friend I've known my entire life who is as far as I can tell only interested in talking about computers and video games. So when we meet that's what we'll talk about and maybe they'll show me a game as well and we'll have a good time because I can spend a couple of hours every few months just nerding out on tech.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:06 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]

Stay friends with your “not fascinating/deep/creative enough” friends IMO, unless you want to wind up alone. Friends can provide creative stimulation and I understand needing that, but “deep” won’t necessarily pick you up at the airport or feed your pet while you’re out of town or listen to you vent about your coworkers when you’re 50.

Also, those assessments sound a little insulting and come across like possible snobbery—everyone has depth and everyone is interesting in some ways, and everyone is dim and dull in some ways.

The politics thing is trickier as mentioned. Does this mean “we don’t necessarily engage at the same level on every issue,” or is it more like “they think Jewish people control the weather?” The former is not worth drastic measures; the latter would be a wise basis for disconnection.
posted by kapers at 9:02 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]

I've ended friendships (but not putting in effort/being a good friend, basically) with friends who had great qualities but who I thought didn't align with me at the time (over unimportant things), or annoyed me in a minor way, etc. There are three friends like this that I let go, that I really regret, as I reach middle age and realize that kind and loyal friends are pretty rare. And at this point it's too late to bring the friendship back to what it was. Conversely there have been fascinating, creative people in my life who have been really fun to talk to, but not kind or consistent.

I'm not saying you have to stay friends with this person, but if they are truly kind and down-to-earth, and don't make you feel bad or drained after spending time with them, it's probably worth putting some effort into to keep up a connection.
posted by bearette at 1:10 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]

When you say, "her politics do not match mine," do you mean that you have different opinions on transportation policy, or that you have different opinions on whether trans people's human rights should be respected? I wouldn't end a friendship over what is essentially a good faith disagreement about the best method to make the world a better place, but I would absolutely end a friendship with someone whose politics are racist, sexist, violent, or otherwise show a fundamental lack of care for other people.
posted by decathecting at 4:52 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]

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