Firing a friend, or dropping someone you’re close to, is never fun.
It’s painful. It can be messy. And it’s extremely awkward the moment you two realize that nothing is going to be the same anymore.
But in my opinion, firing a friend is a necessary part of life in a world of constant change.
Because sometimes you meet people when you’re in a bad place, or by random chance, that just aren’t the best person for you to hang around with in the long run (or the short term).
Maybe they helped you get on your feet last year, but this year you’re a different person and you can’t keep progressing with them around.
It’s not that they’re a terrible person, though often times they are, it’s just that you two don’t work together for whatever reason.
Think about this.
As little kids we want to be liked by everyone.
As middle schoolers we notice that we enjoy spending time with some kids more than others, but we still want to be popular.
And in high school it’s clique-world where we only want to spend time with our like-minded group.
As you get older you start to realize that not all personalities work together. Two people can be so different where they have nothing in common—or too similar where they clash—that the relationship will never run smoothly.
On a scale some people will always bring more bad times than good to you. The secret is to spend the most time with people who give life to your days, not take your joy.
And unless you’re a masochist (someone who enjoys pain) it’s best for you that you drop this friend from your life. After all, this infographic from Happify shows how good friends make us happier.
This message is for you: You probably need to drop your friend if they show any of the seven signs below.
Signs Of Bad Friends
1. Their negativity is toxic.
Negativity is a disease that eats away at people’s happiness, whether it comes internally or externally. (That’s why I suggest everyone takes this 7 day challenge.)
But some friends don’t feel good about themselves and the old saying goes that “misery loves company.” So they’ll infect you with their negativity and use you as a punching back if you let them.
For example, something amazing happens—you get the new job, salary raise, significant other, vacation booked—and you’re pumped up out of your mind.
But you know not to tell your one friend about it because they’ll find something negative to say. It’s just in their DNA to put a rainy cloud on your sunny day.
So you hide it from them and wait until they hear it from someone else or wait a few days later to appreciate the happiness a bit longer.
That’s not normal. A good friendship is when you enjoy sharing good news with them and celebrating. That’s how it’s supposed to be, but Negative Nellie doesn’t get it.
I’d have a serious conversation about their negativity. And if they don’t care to work on it, then I’d reconsider spending time with them.
2. The relationship is all about them.
This type of friend also needs to be evaluated because they’re locked in to focusing on one person only—themselves.
Common scenarios include your friend cutting you off, never listening to anything you have to say or feel, one upping you with a better story in public, and sharing your secrets publicly at your expense for a laugh.
You’d consider it a miracle if they ever genuinely asked about your day and feelings.
Because the second you bring up yourself, they change the subject to what they think. And that communicates it all right there. They want you for their sake, but no because they’re interested in you.
That’s not ok. Relationships should be give and take—not take, take, take.
Your friend should be curious about how you’re doing, what’s new, what’s good, and what you’re struggling with to see if they can help. Friends are people to go to for support and venting.
If your friend only tilts the conversation one way, it may be time to kick them to the curb for a better friend.
3. They use you.
At the core, a relationship is between two mutually connected people.
But bad friendships look more like your friend standing on your back. And the minute you want to get up, they threaten the friendship.
They are blatant about how they use you and the ugly part is they have no intention to stop. It’s 100% about them and 0% about you.
On the odd day they do something for you, their sole motive is to bring it up later so they can use you again and hold that favor over your head for way too long. That’s evil!
These bad friends take advantage of your friends, money, connections, family members, and you. And they leave you depleted in the wake.
Or if they accomplished what they wanted to and no longer need you, you can tell who these people are by their immediate lack of communication and quality time right after.
But they’ll come around once they think of a way to use you again because they suck.
4. They bad mouth the people you love.
Quality friends look out for your best interest. Bad friends look out for their own interests ahead of yours.
If you’ve got a bad friend, odds are they’re going to rip on your significant other and try to divide you two. Why? Because their jealous of the time and attention no longer coming to them.
You being happy because of someone else can’t happen in their selfish word.
They’ll make negative comments, spread rumors, and start drama all in a secret ops mission to break you two apart. They could careless about you being happy if they’re personally not happy.
(Now if your relationship isn’t healthy and you’re with someone who brings out the worst in you, that’s a completely different story. You might have a good friend who is looking out for you. Use proper judgement and get a second opinion.)
They’ll also make fun of your other friends, family members, or people close to you because they’re insecure and need a way to feel good about themselves in front of you.
People have messed with their head and made them feel bad about themselves, so they feel the urge to do the same to you.
Drama follows them because they invite it in with their words and actions. And unless you’re an actor who enjoys real-life drama for extra practice, I’d consider dropping them like a bad habit.
5. You don’t like who you become with them.
There are two types of friends: good influences and bad influences.
Now some bad influences aren’t really that bad. They may make you stay up later than you should, or go on long road trips where you question the logic of the adventure.
That’s not the terrible friends I’m discussing here.
I’m talking about the bad influences who if you continue to hang out with them, you’re likely to become an alcoholic, drug addict, or cheater for life.
They’re with the devil on your shoulder that always wins out over the angel on your other shoulder. They whisper that you should cheat on your significant other, take advantage of the drunk at the bar, or skip work to day-drink.
Sure they’re fun in the moment, but your soul knows you don’t like who you become when you spend time with them. For example, you feel unreal at night but the next morning brings a bunch of shame and guilt that won’t go away.
And you can’t live true to yourself if you have friends who influence you to act like you know is wrong.
Those actions only end in regret.
So cut the friend off before you become a worse version of yourself.
6. You’re the only one making any effort.
Bad friends never put much effort into the relationship.
Now if they need you to do something for them, they’ll be the first to reach out. But if you’re not specifically useful in the moment, you’re the last person on their mind.
These people never text you first. They rarely respond when you text them. And when you ask to hang out, they lie and say they need to catch up on work—until you see their Instagram story and they’re out with other friends.
Honestly, if you didn’t reach out to them, how long would you two go without hanging out or talking? If you don’t know the answer, then you’re the only one trying to make this friendship work.
And it’s probably in your best interest to invest in friendships that care just as much about you as you do about them.
7. You’re exhausted after hanging out with them.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to spend my time around people who uplift me and give me energy. Those are the best hang outs because it’s a positive vibe the entire time.
But I can’t put up with the guys and girls who suck all my energy from me because of their antics and high-school-like drama. I always question why I agreed to hang out when I leave feeling negative and depressed.
Albert Einstein said it best with, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s insane to have bad friends and hope they won’t disappoint you.
Now I’m wiser and realize I’m too old for those kinds of people. It’s just not worth it when the result is mental and emotional exhaustion.
If you fire those friends, then you open up more time to spend with people who energize you. You’ll notice the difference right away, trust me—I have experience with firing friends.
How To Fire A Friend
The First Exchange
Before you make a rash decision and immediately toss friends to the wayside, first give them a chance to hear you out.
You never know, maybe you’ve got them all wrong and they actually do care about you. They’re just oblivious or have bad habits that they’re willing to change.
But it is time to be direct with how you’re feeling if you’re going to salvage the friendship. I recommend you follow these three steps.
Step 1: Honestly express your feelings
Though you can do this by texting, emailing, or writing a letter—if you’re old school—I recommend talking to them on the phone or meeting in person.
And don’t overthink it. Just bring up what’s been bothering you and how it makes you feel.
Your language is key here. It’s best to start sentences with your feelings instead of what they’ve done wrong. And don’t talk in extremes using words like “always” or “never.”
For example, use phrases like, “I sometimes feel like,” instead of on the attack phrases like, “You always.”
The main goal is to communicate your honest feelings, not start a fight.
Step 2: See how they respond
Next, you must give them a chance to respond and be sure to listen to what they’re saying.
It can be hard to go into the conversation with an open mind if you’ve been wronged, but fight your pride to open your ears.
Hear them out and listen to their side of the story.
You may pick up new insight that you never realized. Maybe they’re going through a really tough family crisis, stressed about work, or some other external problem that has them on edge, and they accidentally took it out on you.
If they apologize and you appreciate their response, then keep an eye on how they act going forward. At the very least, it’s good news you two both want to save the friendship.
But if you two don’t see eye-to-eye and they have no intention to change, then you most likely want to skip Step 3 and cut the friendship off.
Step 3: Monitor how they act going forward
Hopefully they turn around and treat you better. If that happens, you don’t need to fire them!
Great job to save your friendship.
But many people don’t change. Or they will make a change in the first week because they know you’re mad, and then they’ll go back to their old ways like you two never had a talk.
When they’re still a bad friend after your talk, there comes a time when you have to choose your own happiness over hurting someone else’s feelings.
And don’t feel bad like you’re the bad guy. They decided the friendship didn’t mean much to them based on how they acted. You’re just responding.
Cut The Friendship Off
If you have a friend (or a few) who continues to bring too much negativity to your life, it’s time for them to go.
You’ve made your concerns and expectations clear in your first talk. And they’re not interested in being a good friend.
When that’s the case, there are three options (one good option) to break up your friendship.
Option one is to make a big scene by confronting them in person, yelling, and bringing up every time they’ve disrespected you. But unless you have your own reality TV show and cameras following your day-to-day activities, you don’t want a messy break up.
The goal is to be as drama free as possible in firing your friend. So I don’t recommend you make a scene.
Option two is to say, “Bye, Felicia,” and never speak to your friend again. Ghosting them is one way to do it.
And even though never answering their texts or calls is drama free, it’s also a childish action that doesn’t provide closure.
That’s why I recommend option three—you respectfully drop a friend through communicating with them. It’s best for them and you. Here’s what to do in this uncomfortable situation.
Give them a call and express how you feel (again, don’t use extreme language or attack).
Say you brought up your concern and since nothing has changed for the long term, you don’t want to hang out anymore. And wish them the best.
Although it’s short and sweet, it’s not going to be easy, because they’re (previously) your friend after all. But you have to go through with this and fire a friend for your happiness.
Choose Your Happiness
In my transition from high school to college, I fired a bunch of friends because I outgrew them. And even in my transition through college to the real world I also had to fire friends for my happiness.
Was it easy? No.
But since I’ve cut these people out, I’ve found freedom to be myself and strive to become the best version of me.
Do you know how refreshing that feels?
That means I’m no longer tied down to negative people and feelings that only got in my way of being happy.
I no longer have to waste another second living a life not true to myself and doing stupid things to please people who don’t care about me.
It’s a simple math problem of addition by subtraction. In getting rid of bad friends, I’m more fulfilled than ever.
So I encourage you to first reflect about your friendships. Think if you have any friends who only drag you down. That’s not how true friendship is supposed to be.
If you have some friends in mind, go talk to them about your concerns and feelings.
Give them a chance to come around and mend the relationship. But if things don’t change, you have to look out for your own happiness and cut them off.
You’ll be better off for it!
And as a motivational send off of why you’re doing this, read these quotes:
My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me. – Henry Ford
A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself. – Jim Morrison
One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives. – Euripides