When to Give a Good Friend the Boot

Good friendships can go bad, and when they do, you should kick them out of your life

Michelle and Angela don’t remember exactly when they met; it seems they’ve always been a part of each other’s lives. They spent much of their elementary school years having sleepovers, and in middle school taught each other the latest dances and how to apply makeup properly. In high school it was boys and sneaking out late at night.

Then Michelle went to college and Angela settled into an early, ill-advised marriage. Michelle graduated, got an advanced degree, and met and married her best friend. Angela was bitter and unhappy, with four children not yet in kindergarten. When the two women got together, Angela would spend the time criticizing all of Michelle’s choices.

“My house was too big. I had my children in the wrong schools. She didn’t approve of my husband,” Michelle says, ticking off the list of Angela’s complaints. “I spent too much time doing family things. I’m too conservative. I’m no longer any fun.”

Michelle realized she felt dread instead of excitement about seeing Angela. “It was hard, but I had to weed her out of my life,” Michelle says.

Unhealthy friendships cause stress, and stress can wreak all kinds of havoc with your health. When a good friend goes bad, we need to initiate divorce proceedings. Here are five friends you should remove from your roster:

  • She is quick to criticize you. Like Angela, this friend relishes pointing out everything she thinks you’ve done wrong. Maybe she’s sad and lonely and this makes her feel better about her own choices. Perhaps she’s envious of something you’ve accomplished. Whatever the reason, it’s a drag hanging out with someone so condescending. So don’t do it anymore.
  • She always only talks about herself. She’s full of drama, and you’ve listened patiently for years, but she never takes time to hear any of yours. Even when she asks about your day, she interrupts you before you finish the first sentence. Block her number.
  • You hear from her only when she needs you to support a cause. Save the whales, fund clean water, support a redwood tree—but you haven’t had a real conversation since you can’t recall. She doesn’t even know you got a new job and moved across the country last year. If you care about the whales, the water, the redwoods—and would give to those causes even if she weren’t involved—full speed ahead. But if you don’t even know what a marsupial is (and don’t care to learn), tell her to remove you from her mass fundraiser emails.
  • She acts “girls gone wild” with her friends’ husbands every time you’re all together. Sure she’s always been a flirt, but sitting on someone else’s spouse’s lap in her freakum dress, with a drink in one hand and her other hand on his crotch, got old 10 years ago. Why are you still inviting her to dinner parties?
  • She gossips rabidly about people you know. What’s she saying about you to them? Enough said.
5 Ways Friendships Benefit Your Health

When you’d rather stab rusty nails in your eyes than spend one more afternoon with a toxic friend, it’s time to have the breakup conversation, tell her in a letter or simply let the friendship fade. You’ll only create more space for positive, healthy, uplifting people in your life.

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