How to Break Away From an Overbearing Friend

Don't stay in a toxic friendship -- the poison will spill over into other aspects of your life.
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You have a friend who is bossy, demanding and arrogant. You may feel uncomfortable and anxious in her presence and be left feeling emotionally exhausted. At this point, you’re not getting what you need from the friendship. Breaking away from an overbearing friend -- whether it’s temporary or permanent -- isn’t easy, but can be done when approached with kindness and consideration

1 Consider Your Options

Before permanently ending a friendship, carefully consider if you want to end the friendship or just take a step back, suggests Jan Yager, who has a doctorate in sociology and is cited in the article, “It’s Not Me, It You” on the New York Times website. Take a close look at your friendship and decide if you’d be better off without your friend in your life. For instance, if only negativity comes from your friendship and you are left feeling worse about yourself, it’s probably in your best interest to end the friendship. The decision to end a friendship is never easy. However, it is important to listen to your intuition when making decisions, says Margarita Tartakovsky, who holds a MS in clinical psychology and is the author of "Listening to Your Inner Voice" on the website, PsychCentral.

2 Pull Back From Your Friendship

If you’ve decided to make your friend a less central part of your life without completely cutting him out, you can gently pull back from your friendship. Call him less often, text and email less frequently and spend less time with him. Pull back emotionally and share less of your feelings with him. Think about your personal boundaries and what behavior you find acceptable and what behavior you will not tolerate. It’s important that you let your friend know if he has crossed a boundary and that you will not tolerate his overbearing behavior.

3 Have a Heart-to-Heart

If you decide to end your friendship, be honest and direct with her about you’re decision to end the friendship. Focus on your feelings and desires, instead of pointing blame at your friend, suggests Florence Issacs, author of “Toxic Friends/True Friends: How Your Friends Can Make or Break Your Health, Happiness, Family and Career” and cited in the article, “Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye: Ending Friendships” on the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Surgery website. For instance, use “I” statements, such as “I have decided to end the friendship because I feel that it’s not working for me anymore.”

4 Maintain Confidence When Ending Your Friendship

Be confident when talking to your friend about your differences and the reasons you're ending the friendship, suggests Marilyn Sorensen, a clinical psychologist cited in the article, “Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye: Ending Friendships” on the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Surgery website. Let him know that you have made a final decision to end the friendship and don’t waver on your decision.

Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.