How to Know if a Friendship Is Worth Saving

Breaking up with a friend hurts, but is sometimes for the best.
... Images

You and your friend may have once been inseparable. You may have fond memories of laughing together, talking late into the night or bonding over a shared interest. As hard as it is to acknowledge, though, relationships change over time, sometimes for the worse. You might be wondering if your friendship is worth saving.

1 Be Mindful of Circumstances

Consider the circumstances that leave you questioning your friendship. Certain situations can cause friends to drift apart and reduce or stop communication. For example, different interests may have developed, or perhaps your friend moved. It takes commitment to keep a friend, says Marie Hartwell-Walker in the article "The Care and Maintenance of Friendship" on the website Psych Central. You may have drifted apart due to lack of the time and energy friendship requires. On the other hand, a misunderstanding or an argument may leave you questioning your friendship. You might feel your comrade doesn't support you, understand you or care for you. Trust could have been broken.

2 Determine the Friendship's Worth

Notice how you feel around your friend. If you feel anxious, angry, hurt or bad about yourself, your friendship is not healthy. A friend who constantly complains or has a negative attitude can bring you down. Ideally, a friend will make you feel good about yourself, celebrate your successes and demonstrate loyalty. This individual should want the best for you. Women tend to put a lot of emphasis on continuing mediocre relationships out of loyalty and guilt, says Andrea Bonier, a psychologist and author of "Friendship 2.0," published by "Psychology Today." You need to decide if your friendship is healthy and then do what is best for you.

3 Make the Call

Don't decide to end a friendship when you're angry or upset. Take time to calmly think through the situation and make sure you know your true feelings. Decide if you want to continue your friendship, cut back on the time you spend together or end things altogether. Confrontation, while difficult, can be worth the effort if it leads to the salvation of your friendship. If you've made an effort to talk but your friend continues to bring out the worst in you or is an emotional drain, it's time to end the friendship, says Dr. Gail Saltz in the Today Health article "Is Your Friendship Not Working? Here's Help." If you decide to end your friendship, you may choose to slowly drift apart by not responding to correspondence. If this person was a close friend, you may opt to divulge the fact that you are ending the friendship along with your reasons.

4 Mourn Your Loss

Breaking up with a friend can be as painful as breaking up with a significant other. Treat yourself as you would following a breakup with a partner. Take time to grieve your loss. Spend time with friends who encourage you and make you feel good about yourself. You will additionally need to take care of your basic needs, such as eating healthfully and getting enough sleep. You might find that exercise gives you a more positive outlook.

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.