It’s Been Six Weeks Since I Ended A 20-Year Friendship

Ending a friendship
Shot of serious young woman using her mobile phone while sitting on sofa in the living room at home.

So, how do I feel, after making the devastating decision to end a 22 year-long friendship, six weeks ago?

Like a “f**king idiot, that’s how. Why? Because I didn’t stick to THE PLAN.

A little backgrounder…

About six weeks ago, I was a hot, sobbing mess. My heart ached. My gut hurt. A “friend” had betrayed my trust. Then I learned they were talking about something I shared with them to other people. It wasn’t a secret exactly — I did not say, “Keep this between you and me” — because I had assumed, wrongly, that this friend would automatically just know that it was something that I rather have remained private, was not something I wanted to be shared, and to zip-their-lips. Then top of that, they had done something that no loyal person would ever do to someone they consider a “friend.”

I had only ever helped this friend. Trust me, over the last few years, I had become acutely aware that our friendship had become so one-sided, it was almost laughable, if it wasn’t so sad that I had let this carry on for so long.

Of course, I saw the red flags. Whenever this friend reached out to me, it was to ask for something. Whether it was shooting them stories with advice about starting their new retail business, connecting them with contacts and other people I knew could, and would, happily help them, or responding to a constant barrage of emails, asking for my thoughts and opinions.

In fact, whenever this friend reached out to me — sometimes at 10 p.m. and often on weekends, I would drop everything I was doing at that moment — time with my boyfriend, time with my children — to help them. Because that’s the kind of loyalty I give to my close friends.

I hated that every single time I would respond with suggestions or advice, that they asked for, from me, that I never got a “Thank You.” In fact, sometimes I got no response at all…until a few days later when this friend would ask me for something else. Again, and again, I jumped for this friend.

When it came the minimal number of times I asked for their thoughts, or help, or just reached out to make a date and plan a catch phone call, I was often met with no response from this “friend.” If we did make plans, this friend would most likely bail or reschedule, to the point I stopped asking to meet up.

But, as most women know, even as draining as a “friendship” can be, no matter how toxic or one-sided a friendship has become, no matter how badly that friend makes you feel, it truly is incredibly difficult to end a friendship, especially with a friend you’ve known for longer than you’ve not known them. I was beyond sad to end this friendship. It was almost as traumatizing, if not more so, than my two failed relationships with my children’s fathers.

As pathetic as it sounds, I actually read for hours over weeks — maybe “researched” is a more apt word — dozens and dozens of stories about ending friendships and how to know when you should end one, spending hours, basically wondering, especially, if what this friend did was so bad that I wouldn’t ever want that friendship back.

I didn’t know for certain! My brain said, “No way are they a friend. How could you ever trust them again? Why would you want to remain friends?” But my heart, as well as the optimistic and empathetic part of me, thought, “Well, maybe they will apologize?” Which, frankly, led me into another emotional tizzy. I wasn’t sure that I could ever trust this person, and more disturbing, to me, if I could forgive this friend. It’s a terrible spot to be in, hoping for some sort of apology, clinging on to this friendship like a paper clip, while also knowing that I didn’t know how I could forgive this person, even if I wanted to.

When I googled “When should I end a friendship?” 47 million stories popped up. I probably read 26 million of them, while also getting sucked into doing silly quizzes, like “Am I in A Toxic Friendship?” and “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You End A Friendship?” and, “It’s Time To Find Out If Your Friends Are Toxic Or Not. Take This Quiz!” All these quizzes, pretty much, were geared towards tweens, or teens, not women in their 40s. But, clearly, I became somewhat obsessed over making this decision, to end a friendship with this person, so much so that it was also making me physically ill.

Research has shown that a stressful relationship with friends can cause health problems, like high blood pressure and increased depression, according to this article. “Even if a friendship was once good, a big argument, betrayal, or just a gradual shift in expectations can lead to an unhealthy relationship filled with jealousy, criticism or disappointment.”

While I wasn’t jealous of my friend, nor did I criticize them, I most definitely felt continually disappointed by them. I hate when people say, “They’re just jealous of you,” but this time? I actually felt that maybe that was the case.

This friend is not on social media, like at all! I only have a couple of friends in common with this person. I reached out to one of our mutual friends, to tell them how I was feeling and to also ask if I was overreacting to the consistent one-sided friendship, the betrayal, and how this friend would only pop up when they needed something from me, with never hearing a “Thank You,” in return. Our mutual friend, who is not as close as I am to this person, responded, “That’s just the way they are.” So, I thought about this response for beat or two.

This. Is. Just. The. Way. They. Are. THIS IS JUST THE WAY THEY ARE?

No. No. No. I just couldn’t take, “That’s just the way they are,” as an excuse for my so-called friend’s bad behaviour, and their lack of common curtesy that would be afforded to a perfect stranger, let alone someone who I had been friends with for half my life. Sure, I do believe that some friendships are worth fighting for, but it seemed like I was the only one fighting for it.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore —I either had a breaking point or an epiphany — basically telling this friend in a text, “Why would you hurt someone who has only ever helped you with the best of intentions. You are not a friend. You just make me feel bad,” ending with, “Please do not reach out to me anymore.” Immediately after sending them the text, my emotions were all over the place. I not only felt a deep and palpable sadness, like I’ve never felt before, but I also did feel a huge sense of relief, like literally as if the weight of the world had lifted off my shoulders. And I had a plan!

I’ve read multiple stories about breakups and the 30-day “No Contact Rule.” While usually always applied to romantic breakups, I thought, “Meh, a relationship is a relationship is a relationship,” be it a romantic one or with a platonic friend. I promised myself that for the next 30 days, that I would stop all communication with them too.

I knew I was strong enough to do this and not reach out. I have done this, after dumping men I’ve dated. The point, I think, of the “30-Day No Contact Rule,” is basically that at the end of the 30 days, you’ll know whether you want that person back in your life and want to work on your relationship, because you truly miss them, or that you’ll realize that you’re actually happy and you are doing just fine without them, and that you know now, for a fact, they didn’t add value to your life.

Candidly, I didn’t think this friend would reach out— After all, I had made my feelings clear that I did not want to hear from them. The first week of no contact went well, even if I was still heartbroken. This friend did not reach out to me, and I did not reach out to them. It was, on my end, pretty easy. I had no urges to reach out and was slowly starting to see that I could get used to not having this person in my life, and inbox, anymore. Each day, each hour, I slowly felt lighter. That is…until Day 10.

Ten days after breaking up with this friend, they reached out with a text that read, “Miss ya!” The text arrived at the worst time possible. It was 11 o’clock at night, my kids were in bed, and I was alone with no adult supervision — which I could have really used — because I also had a nice buzz on.

It turns out I was not as strong as I thought I am. I do somewhat blame to cannabis buzz on, but I did exactly what I was not supposed to do, which was….respond immediately. After I hit sent, in response to their text, I knew I had made an awful mistake. My gut, head and heart told me so. My friend and I were now back in contact. I started sending them funny memes again. I started sending them stories I read that I thought they would find interesting, or help them with their new venture.

I don’t think it will come as any surprise to anyone to learn that we fell back into an unhealthy pattern where again, they would ask for help, I would offer it, they wouldn’t say, “Thank You,” or even respond for days. I don’t think it will come to any surprise that, not only was I mad at myself, but again, I felt continually disappointed, not just by their actions or lack of actions, this time, but because I allowed it to happen…again.

There is not point, I think, of “ending” this so-called friendship again. I don’t want to be “The Girl Who Cries Wolf,” by sending another text telling them they are a sucky friend. But, now when I see a text or email from them, asking me for my thoughts, I don’t drop everything. I do not respond immediately. Sometimes I don’t respond at all. I do not reach out to them for anything.

I can honestly say, now, I am putting no energy into this person. And, slowly, slowly, this “friend” is fading from mind, fading out of my life, fading out of my inbox. I don’t feel sad, or angry over the demise of this friendship anymore, or that I let them back into my life. Sure, this now ex-friend sometimes pops into my mind, but they don’t stay on my mind.

What I feel is indifference. I’m okay with that. Whatever this “friendship” was or wasn’t, it is now meaningless to me. My “friend” simply does not matter to me anymore. If you are going through something like this, trust me, you too will eventually feel them fading away from your life, and it won’t matter one bit.




  1. Lynda Haddon on March 17, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    I can’t tell if you are talking about one friend or more than one. My experience has been that people change and we need different people in our lives at different times and people move on, us included. I had an excellent friend of 38 years and we were so close, like sisters pretty well. Till she married and had two daughters. Her husband and eldest daughter were really jealous of her relationship with me (I also married and had 3 daughters but my family did not respond the same way) and she began to share with me how I had done this or that to her husband and/or daughter. And it just wasn’t true. She finally called it quits in spite of my saying I would drive three hours to her house right now to work it out. She refused. I still miss her – it has been 26 years but it was out of my control and I had to let her go. Such a waste.

  2. Scott Livingston on February 14, 2022 at 11:01 am

    In 2010, my closest friend of *45* years ended the friendship supposedly because of her job.

    She went to work for a conservative, Christian organization; I am a left-wing Jewish atheist.

    She started asking me about Facebook, what was it like. She looked at my page…wanted to know who my friends were…how did I know them, since she didn’t. Told her I had met them in the various groups I was in and also people I had gone to college with, plus some mutual friends of my wife and I.

    A few weeks went by and I saw she was on Facebook and she hadn’t sent me a friend request. I sent her one. It was declined. Re-sent, declined again. I e-mailed her, no reply. I called her…left a message. No call back. Tried again on both e-mail and phone. Nothing. I e-mailed her again. Finally got a response.

    On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM, Scott L. wrote:

    You haven’t added me to your Facebook…I’ve tried calling you and you’re avoiding me.

    You want to throw away a 45 year friendship, OK

    She finally responded:

    On Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 7:17 PM, Former Friend wrote:

    OF COURSE I DONT WANT TO THROW YOU AWAY AFTER 45 YEARS!!!! I love you Scott forever and ever!!!!!!!! And Matt and I are out all the time-in and out etc. SO I do not avoid you, I am wicked busy etc…… HOWEVER, given my work in a once again christian organization , my Facebook is all over their site too and critiqued and sometime Scooter you are a little to the left plus some. Its fine for me personally you know that but I have to keep it straight and narrow given my work and their access to me and my facebook affiliations-THAT IS ALL and if you do not understand tooooo bad. You KNOW I love you but given the circumstances you must understand and if not too bad-I love you always. XXXOOO

    Before I could respond, I got this follow-up:

    From: Former Friend

    To: Scott L.

    Subject: Re: Evidently we’re not friends anymore

    Date: Jul 28, 2010 7:21 PM

    I need and love this job-I am a single Mom with 0 child support….and everyone is monitored-Jobs, schools, boards, chamber of commerce and united way affiliations plus sooooo much more critique their members Facebooks as well as resumes, personal references etc. You are a bit untradtitonal and the only one who swears or has controversal affiliations Again I understand you more than anyone….yes anyone…. but in this forum not acceptable-Again LOVE U

    I tried calling her…went to voice mail. My e-mail to her went unanswered. I then told some of our mutual friends what happened. It got back to her bc=ecause I then got this threatening e-mail.

    From: Former Friend

    To: Scott L.


    Date: Aug 1, 2010 1:32 PM

    If you continue to forward my emails to you, to several people so inclined to inform me of it , I will report you to Facebook, and how you are forwarding this dialogue, without my permission, and against my wishes, in regards to your Face Book friend request to me… and my repeated refusal to add you. WITHOUT exception they all agreed under the circumstances, they felt it was in my best interest and safety, to inform me of your actions. One even contacted FACEBOOK them selves to better inform me of what I can do to have your account deleted plus some, if so inclined. I know you are basically home bound and obviously disabled enough, that this cyber world of Face Book, My Space, etc means more to you than the average working functioning person. Don’t make me, take the actions to ban you from these sites. NOW STOP OR I WILL REPORT YOU TO Face Book and the other AUTHORITIES as detailed to me. You are threatening me and violating confidentiality. FaceBook exec’s words…. NOW……..TAKE YOUR MEDS, chill out and think about what you have done-and if you do not stop I will, I WILL report it to FACE BOOK immediately, as advised to.

    So knock it off (my full name)-you apparently are much sicker than I ever thought. Now I worry about [my wife]’s welfare living with someone who behaves the way you do.

    (The meds I was on (and am still am on) are blood pressure meds; I had suffered a heart attack earlier that year)

    I then got in touch with her ex-husband…who I hadn’t spoken to since I moved out of state. They had gotten divorced a few years after I had moved away. He was shocked that she had said that to me. My mother had never liked her and my mother actually warned my former friend’s ex about her…and he told me he wished he had listened to my mom. I showed the e-mail to our mutual friends. They were in shock. Two I didn’t show the e-mail to…they unfriended and blocked me, I suspect they stabbed me in the back to my former friend.

    It’s been over 11 1/2 years and it still hurts. I now tell myself that she and I were NEVER friends. You don’t treat a friend like that.

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