You can find volumes of advice on how to break up with a significant other, but what do you do when you want to end things with a friend?

It sounds absurd: “Breaking up with a friend.” But think about it: Just like we make mistakes in picking a boyfriend/girlfriend, we might make mistakes in picking friends.

Rift in friendship

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How do you break up a friendship without going through the drama of saying “I think our friendship is over?” More importantly, how do you end things when you’re the only one that has a problem?

Stage 1: Limit face-to-face interactions

Limiting face-time will be half your battle. Make excuses when he/she wants to hang out; the best one is saying you’re busy with school/work! While limiting face-to-face interactions, make sure to be willing to talk via chatting/phone/texts.

Going cold turkey makes it too obvious!

Good excuses: I have to spend more time with my family; My grades are slipping so I need focus on my academics; I’m really busy with work and school; Things are going to be kind of tight for me the next few months but we’ll hang out when they wind down

Stage 2: Limit phone calls

Once you’ve limited in person encounters, lay low on phone calls. Most guys can skip to Stage 3 since the average Joe doesn’t really spend hours chatting with friends. If you do; however, then replace phone calls with Gchat/AIM/FBchat and/or emails.

Remember to text as you would normally!

Good excuses:

I’m in the library, can we talk on AIM?; My roommate is sleeping so I can only talk for 15 minutes; I’m about to head to bed but I’ll catch you on Gchat tomorrow night

Stage 4: Limit texts

Texts have become as “personal” as seeing a person and hearing their voice.

It’s important to make sure the amount of texting you do with this person goes down. Your first step is to never initiate a text, but reply to his/her text. After the one-way texting is established, somehow get the point across that texting isn’t a good way to communicate.

Good excuse:

Can you believe I’m already out of texts? No texts this month unless it’s an absolute emergency!

Stage 5: Limit online presence

If you’re always on a form of chat (Gchat/AIM/FBchat) then either block your friend or remember to put up a busy status up!

If you’re a person who goes on once or twice a week, then don’t bother blocking! Your job is done: Having an online friendship gives you the luxury of responding (or not responding) when you want to!

Stage 6: Keep an acquaintance-only-relationship

Keeping an acquaintance-only-relationship means that you can hang out with this “friend,” but only when you’re at a big party/outing or are with mutual friends.

This way you don’t have to spend one-on-one time with this person and you have the luxury of saying, “Hi” and moving on.

Why are these 6 stages important?

They don’t burn bridges! You never know how people change and you and your not-so-compatible friend may become really compatible in the future. The idea is to make your “breakup” seem like a friendship that has drifted apart.

What’s more, you don’t have to worry about being super awkward when you run into each other! In fact, chances are you’ll be genuinely happy to see each other!

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