Why Ending A Longterm Friendship Is Sometimes Necessary

If it’s no longer serving you, it’s time to move on.

Ending long term friendship

Like so many other countless Sex And The City fans, I’ve long marveled at the true love story at the heart of the cult-favorite franchise, the one connecting the four main female characters in a decades-long friendship that’s seen triumphs, tragedy, and many bad dates. So, when last year’s reboot And Just Like That presented the shocking departure and “unfriending” of Samantha Jones, my immediate reaction was a mix of annoyance and skepticism. Are diehard fans of the series really going to buy that a loyal friend of Carrie Bradshaw could just end a longterm friendship so hastily and over something as seemingly trivial as business?

Although fictional, the Max series (now on its second season, which will see the brief return of Jones, played by Kim Cattrall) has raised some interesting thoughts and questions about platonic relationships. There is certainly more to the demise of Jones and Bradshaw — it’s never about what it’s about, right? So then, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was the actual straw that broke the camel’s back? And, more importantly, in the broader sense, what are the key signs it’s time to let the sun set on your friendship?

In the spirit of Bradshaw, I leaned into this last question, and took it to social media. I asked my Instagram followers about the various reasons they’ve chosen to walk away from an important friendship, and the responses came in fast and furious. One person explained that she had reached a point when the prospect of hanging out with her best friend became stressful and she had to mentally prepare herself for each gathering. Another referenced his own 10+ year connection with two pals eventually went sour when he found it to be toxic and unfulfilling — and didn’t feel like he was able to hang out with one friend in his trifecta without upsetting the other — so he parted ways with both individuals. Another contact referenced alcohol always needing to be present in her time with a specific friend. And so on, and so on.


In doing deeper research and enlisting the insights of mental health and relationship experts, I discovered that, indeed, Samantha Jones’ abrupt disconnection is an actually very realistic story line. While the final nail in the coffin may be a small one, the larger issue fueling disfunction in a friendship is often valid and worth exploring.

Ahead, some of the top reasons people call it quits with longterm friends. Because, sometimes, it’s just time to call it a day.

It’s Based On Coincidence

This was a common response I received from my IG poll. Many of my friends mentioned holding on to childhood pals simply on account of longevity, feeling that all those years in each other’s lives built up a sense of obligation, even when they knew the relationship wasn’t serving them.

“Thinking about how the friendship had been before makes it more difficult to walk away in the present,” explains Aura De Los Santos, clinical and educational psychologist. “Many times, people cling to memories of the past, thinking about how things were before and this makes it more difficult to end. They do not understand that it is important to evaluate what is happening in the present.”

Dr Todd Mei, former associate professor of philosophy and founder of business consultancy Philosophy2u points to ancient philosopher Aristotle for this simple lesson. “Coincidental friendship has only the coincidence of time and place in common,” he says to TZR. “So you may think your oldest friend from childhood is the most valued; but, for Aristotle, if all you have in common is this history, it's really a matter of coincidence. Your friend could have been anyone. Moreover, having in common time and place means that once these two factors fade, so will the friendship.” The moral of the story here: You don't have to value an old friend just because of history.

It’s Emotionally Draining

Meriam Njah, a Minneapolis-based licensed therapist suggests paying attention to how you feel after spending time with your friend. “If more often than not, you are feeling drained, anxious, or emotionally exhausted, it's worth considering whether the friendship is contributing to your overall well-being.”

Sam Holmes, relationship counselor and founder of relationship and personal development platform Feel And Thrive expands on this, explaining that genuine friendships should be a source of positivity and encouragement. “However, if you consistently find yourself feeling devalued or criticized after spending time with your friend, it's a red flag,” he says to TZR. “If your friendship has become a breeding ground for negativity, it may be time to consider whether it's worth holding onto.”

It’s A One-Way Street

Any relationship, platonic, romantic, or otherwise should be balanced in terms of energy input. “Friendships should be a two-way street with both parties investing time and effort,” says Njah. “Of course every relationship goes through different seasons where there may be an imbalance of give and take, that is normal. But if your relationship is characterized by one-way giving, constantly, perhaps it's time to let go and find another one.”

In relationships that have spanned long periods of time, it’s natural to want to fight for it, even if there’s a lack of reciprocity, says mental health expert Dr. Ashley Lowe-Simmons. “It's not uncommon to want something to work out so bad that we over-give but fail to receive which is both self-depleting and depriving,” she says. But, if you feel like, consistently, your needs are not being met, this is a key indicator that the friendship is no longer mutually beneficial.

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Contradicting Values

This was another popular reason that slid into my DMs. Considering the current political and social climate, it’s not surprising to find yourself at odds with friends on hot topics. And, to be clear, it is certainly possible to agree to disagree on certain things in life and proceed in relative harmony with loved ones, especially if there’s mutual respect present. However, there can be instances where these differences are too, well different, to ignore, specifically if it involves a general worldview or social issue. “If you and your friend have become increasingly more polarized in terms of values, beliefs or life outlook, then the friendship may no longer be as beneficial as it once was,” explains Kalley Hartman, marriage and family therapist and clinical director at Ocean Recovery in Newport Beach, CA. “This can lead to clashes that are difficult to resolve, leaving both people feeling unfulfilled.”

Interactions Become Increasingly Rare

Anyone in a longterm friendship has likely experienced a pivot (or several) as life changes like marriage, children, career developments, and more come into play. These shifts naturally impact schedules, making it trickier and a bit more complicated when it comes to making time for each other. This is a common issue and not necessarily one to quickly act on negatively.

However, Hartman explains that if a once close friendship has begun to fade due to lack of interaction, it could be indicative of deeper issues within the relationship. Harkening back to the previous point about ensuring your friendship is a two-way street, it’s important to be aware of your dynamics here.De Los Santos advises to be mindful of key signs: It’s always you who takes the first step, writes to your friend, makes plans, calls them, etc. If one person seems more interested in maintaining contact than the other, then it might be best to move on.

It’s Toxic

This is a tough one, as toxicity can take many forms. But, in general, if your relationship is no longer a healthy connection that is a positive impact on your life, this is a sign it’s probably not for you anymore. If your friend “attacks you, criticizes you, doesn't respect you, and always tries to make you feel bad,” this could be an indicator, says De Los Santos. “When you tell them about your achievements and they don't feel happy for you or they always try to highlight negative things about you,” she adds. “[Or perhaps] they only use you to vent and don't take into account how you feel, they are not acting like a friend.”

Other signs of a bad dynamic could be the nature in which you connect with your friend. Perhaps your “bonding” or time together mainly revolves around drugs and/or alcohol. Or perhaps there’s extreme jealousy at play in regards to other friendships or relationships in your life. These could all be telltale signs of an unhealthy connection.