Recently, a reader asked “Dear Prudence” how to “unfriend” a friend:
How do you “unfriend” someone, not on Facebook, but in real life? This is a person who is also friendly with someone I know well, so it is not unlikely that we might all get together through our mutual friend. However, it might seem odd to the mutual friend that I no longer wish to associate with this person. I see both of them at work and we often eat lunch together. How should I handle this? My main reason for unfriending this person is a serious lack of boundaries on their part (constant evangelizing me to her religion, constant “invitations” which are hard to say no to, bad manners, etc.).
Once, I had a flaky friend. Whenever I’d call her or make plans with her, she’d have one of three excuses: she was too tired, she was sick with a headache or a stomach ache, or she would have to call me back, which almost never happened. I got the hint. Either she didn’t value our friendship or thought her time was more important than mine, and I decided she and I didn’t really need to be friends. While it’s hard to end a friendship, a bad one can be as destructive as an abusive relationship. Here’s the best way to “unfriend” a friend if you find yourself in a similar situation.
- Be rude. Ignore her phone calls, emails, and texts.
- Erase her numbers, as you would after a bad breakup. You don’t want to do any vulnerable texting.
- Don’t make plans with her, or, if you can’t avoid her completely, limit the amount of time you spend socializing with her.
- Start referring to her as your “former friend.” Your emotions will catch up to your logic, and you’ll begin to understand the friendship is over.
- If you happen to miss her after the breakup is complete, meet up every three months or so. The friendship will feel fresh but familiar. And you won’t be completely cutting her out of your life — just downgrading her to friendly acquaintance.