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Context:

I've recently come to the conclusion that I would like to end several old friendships. I keep making up excuses why I don't have time to see them, when I don't want to see them, and also don't have time.

These are mostly friends that know each other or at least used to know each other.

I believe that I've valued friendships as something inherently valuable and for old friendships they've become a sort of investment. This is until I realize that although it may be amusing to reminisce over nostalgic memories at times, there is no way this can in any way possibly justify the amount of time I keep putting in.

Question:

My goal is to stop having to deal with friends, but at the same time leave things in a note that attempts to leave no hard feelings.

marked as duplicate by Jesse, curiousdannii, Vylix, Rory Alsop, JAD Feb 24 '18 at 16:13

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Do you really want to end these friendships? Or do you like to concentrate in the moment on something else (maybe other friendships, work, whatever)? If you still like these people why do you want to end the friendships forever? Maybe you like to contact them again, maybe years later. Maybe you want to put them kind of on hold in the moment? – user8838 Feb 17 '18 at 1:09
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    Why end the friendship? .Just keep busy and see less of them. – Autistic Feb 17 '18 at 1:41
  • This makes me question it, and it is sad. However, while this makes total sense initially, it leads to two things: one, feeling bad for not reaching out to contact them more often and feeling bad when declining offers to meet up; and two, the fact that time will be spent on the friendships which I would rather not spend. – AlphaCentauri Feb 17 '18 at 2:13
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    @AlphaCentauri: If you don't want to spend the time on them now then don't do it. But if you in principle like these people then keep your options open for the future. Maybe in years you want to contact anyone of them again for whatever reason. Many people move on and don't have time for old friends. But years later they are happy to remember some of them. – user8838 Feb 17 '18 at 3:05
  • Voting to reopen. The similar question is about ending one, specific, old friendship, out of frustrations with the old friend. This question is about extracting oneself from multiple friendships, for internal reasons. – aparente001 Feb 25 '18 at 1:02
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To answer your question: If you really want to end old friendships, pretend to be busy whenever they call and never call back. It's not polite but when you do this often, frequency of calls you get reduces and over a period of time, everyone kind of gets the point that you are not interested in keeping up the friendship.

Personally, I never ended a friendship but did nothing to maintain them either. I recently realized that if I face any problem, I'd not have anyone close enough to discuss it except my family and a couple of colleagues from work - not an ideal situation to be. I've now got in touch with a few old friends via social networking groups but we have to put in a lot of effort to renew the relationship.

My advice: I don't think you should end a friendship unless the relationship is toxic or the particular friend is a negative person and you don't want them in your life. You can reduce the number of calls and tell them you can't meet since you are busy. But call them a couple of times in a year so that you are still there for each other if needed.

  • I have quoted you in my answer: "there really is no reason to formally end an old friendship. The earlier answer by @svj is exactly right in advising you to "pretend to be busy whenever they call and never call back (...) everyone kind of gets the point that you are not interested in keeping up the friendship (...) I don't think you should end a friendship unless the relationship is toxic or the particular friend is a negative person (...)" __ You are absolutely right and I upvote! – English Student Feb 19 '18 at 10:28
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When I graduated 10th grade, I went to a different school, and many of my friends joined other schools to complete their higher secondary (grades 11 and 12).

I had known them for many years (although I don't know how my "many" compares with your "old friends" :D) and when I had to leave school, I had a choice regarding my friends: either maintain my old friendships through social media, frequent meet-ups, and parties, or to see and know less of them (we still stay in the same city and live pretty nearby, so I could still see them if I really wanted to and had time).

At our graduation party, I told them my decision, bold and clear. I decided not to continue the friendship. It went along these lines:

Guys, after leaving school, I'm afraid I'll be unable to continue to keep in close touch. I'll miss y'all...

The response:

We'll miss you too! KIT sometimes, okay?

Not a bad response, and to this day, I can still call any of them and chat for hours if I want and have the time...

You've got to let them know that you can't help it, and this is the only way you had left due to work, or personal reasons, but you'll really miss spending time with them. Don't lie to them, it's got to be genuine, or old friends will immediately know something's up.

I know that I had a different situation, as I was leaving school, and you don't have any similar excuse, but at one of your meet-ups, build up your resolve, and tell them what you've decided. Cold-shouldering is definitely not recommendable, as your friends will (9/10 times) be hurt and might not enjoy contacting you ever again.

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Figure out why you don't want to spend time with them, and then just let them know in a kind and caring way. Often we grow out of relationships or our values change.

"Sorry guys, we just don't have much in common anymore. I'm spending my time with _______ now." Fill in the blank. The blank could be "your new career", "your new spouse", "your new child", "your new hobby."

It could be you've turned a corner from your old relationships like you're not drinking, doing drugs, going to school, even a different hobby, and these were the friends you were around when you were.

So you can add "I'll always remember you guys but I'm just not into _______ anymore." again fill in the blank, "underwater basket weaving" "clubbing" "drugs" "gaming" etc.

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If the problem is them..

.. that is to say you don't think the individuals are worth the effort because you don't have anything in common with them other than some shared experience (same school/college/whatever) then all you need to do is stop putting the effort in to see them and the friendships will gradually fade. Ignore their communications, turn down their invitations, and it won't take long for them to get the message that this was never a real friendship with any foundation (from your perspective at least).

If the problem is you..

.. because I got to say, coming up with some formula for valuing friendships based on time and effort involved is a little odd. If someone IS a good friend then they are worth a degree of effort, even though circumstances may make it impractical to see each other as often as you otherwise would. Are you really 100% certain that your life will be better long-term without these connections? If there is a possibility that your feelings on this matter are driven by a personal 'quirk' or something more serious like an emotional disconnection then you might later regret cutting them off. You may need them more than you feel you want them in your life, but only if they are indeed good friends. I note that you do refer to them as "friends" right up to the point of asking your question ("My goal is to stop having to deal with friends").

Think more about what the friendship means to them than only what you get out of it (some "nostalgia") or how much effort is involved for you. Because if you base all your friendships in life entirely on what you get from them then you may find that none of them stick around.

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Talk to each friend who means something to you, one or two at a time. Here's a starting point:

Listen, Joe, I wanted to let you know that I'm going to have to put socializing on a bit of a back burner for a while. I want to have a clearer focus on (name of project) and that means I won't be able to be a good friend at this juncture in my life. So, for the time being, and I'm not sure for how long, you probably won't be hearing much from me, and I won't be able to get together for (name of usual activity). This has nothing to do with you, or our friendship. I wanted to let you know what's going on with me, because we go back a long way and I wouldn't want my self-absorption to hurt you in any way.

Also, I don't want you to worry about me. Know that if I ever need a helping hand or a friendly voice to connect with, I know exactly where to go!

This is hopefully a graceful way out, that puts the focus on you and minimizes the other person's hurt feelings.

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It is certainly not useful to pretend to maintain a friendship if you don't want to, but there really is no reason to formally end an old friendship. The earlier answer by @svj is exactly right in advising you to

pretend to be busy whenever they call and never call back (...) everyone kind of gets the point that you are not interested in keeping up the friendship (...) I don't think you should end a friendship unless the relationship is toxic or the particular friend is a negative person (...)

It is as easy as ignoring them to give a clear non-verbal message that you do not want to continue the friendship. On the other hand, telling them outright that you want to end the friendship would be hurtful and I would advise against it for that very reason. Even if the friend were toxic I would advise you to simply ignore them because they don't deserve an explanation, but your friends don't appear toxic, judging by your question.

The real value of old friends, in my experience, is that they will remain much closer to you than any new friends, even if you are not in regular contact, and old friends can be extraordinarily supportive (especially emotionally) if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, even if you have ignored them in the interim. You lose that extremely valuable source of support by trying to formally end the friendship.

Meanwhile, you don't need to feel guilty for ignoring them. Unlike a formal or informal statement ending the friendship, ignoring them is neither final nor an explicit rejection [At least one of them is probably wondering right now how to get rid of your friendship without hurting your feelings, and might settle on simply ignoring you for now.] Old friends can accept that you have other friends and other interests, and have no time for them right now: it has happened to us all and we have all done it to others as well! They will certainly understand and the friendship can be kept on hold for the future.

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