Ending Friendships…Good for Mental Health?

Friends are the best.  They give us a shoulder to cry on and someone to laugh with.  But friends can also be a drain, a stress and a strain on our mental health and happiness.  Like any relationship, friendships can have their ups and downs.  Periods of closeness, arguments and distance aren’t uncommon.  But what happens when a friend starts causing you stress and strain all the time, for months and years on end?  Is it OK to end a friendship?

Break up with your BFF?


Just like romantic relationships, not all friendships are meant to last forever. Some friendships flourish in the workplace, and then flounder when one person moves on to another job.  Other friendships grow quickly during shared experiences (during summer camp or a birthing class) and then die out when that time is over.

So how do you know when a friendship has run its course? What’s the right time to pull the plug?

You don’t feel good after you come home.  After spending time with friends, we usually feel good: happy and light-hearted..  But there are times when we feel down or sad after a date with our friends.  This can happen when she tells us bad news or that’s she’s moving across the country.  Close friends can even share each other’s pain in a very real way.  For example, when your dear friend tells you she’s divorcing.  That’s all to be expected in the course of a friendship.  What’s not so great is when you feel crummy visit after visit, month after month, year after year.  When that happens, it’s probably time to re-evaluate the friendship to determine if it’s worth the stress.

The phone’s only working one way.  Friendships require participation by both people.  Good, lasting relationships just don’t flourish when it’s only one person doing the calling, texting, emailing and planning.  If months and years go by and you find you are the only one asking to get together, it might mean the friendship isn’t so robust – and maybe be causing you pain to boot.  Time to have a heart to heart about why the friendship is so one-sided, or just end it altogether.

It died of natural causes.  I’ve had friendships that have been great for a while, and then have slowly withered away with the passage of time.  I used to feel bad and stressed about them, like it was my responsibility to resurrect the relationship to its former glory.  But then I realized that these friendships had just taken their course, and instead of feeling guilty for not doing more to save them I could simply relish the memories I’d gained while they were still strong.

For more about what makes a good friend, and how to spot a true and lasting friendship, check this out.