If you’ve ever considered breaking up with your significant other, you know there are plenty of resources for you out there. But what if you want to break up with a friend? Friendships can be just as intimate and special as any romantic relationship, and yet few people talk about how to let go of a BFF.
This week, on the Cosmo Happy Hour podcast, Cosmopolitan.com social media editor Elisa Benson and entertainment director Patti Greco join author Gabrielle Bernstein and YouTuber Grace Helbig to discuss toxic friendships, how to know it’s time to walk away, and 10 other things you should consider before breaking up with a friend:
1. Just because a friendship is changing, it doesn’t mean that it’s ending.
Greco said that after she and her best friend went to college, things started to change within their friendship. And while they got through that rough patch and have remained close, they are still entering different stages in their lives. But that doesn’t mean a friendship breakup needs to occur. “I feel more prepared to recognize that, OK, if we’re not totally in sync or if conversations feel uncomfortable, we’re just going through a change,” Greco says. “Our relationship is evolving.”
2. At some point, you might owe it to yourself to let go of a friend.
Bernstein knew it was time to break up with a friend when she realized she wasn’t standing up for herself. “There was a lot up for me around speaking my truth and taking care of myself and owning what my needs were and making sure I was voicing my concerns,” she says. “I really came to a place where I had no choice but to tell the truth.”
3. If you can’t be honest with your friend, you should probably reevaluate your friendship.
When Bernstein realized she and her friend weren’t being honest with each other, she knew things had to change. “If you can’t be honest with somebody, that’s not a true friendship," she says.
4. Friendship should be a 50/50 partnership.
While, sure, it’s great to stay in touch with your friend from 4th grade or that girl from your high school varsity team, it’s also OK to want friendships where both people are giving 100 percent. “As an adult, you learn that it’s not selfish to want to be around people that really support you,” Helbig says.
5. If you do go through a friend breakup, you’ll probably need a support system.
Even though a relationship breakup might seen more ~dramatic~, friendship breakups can be just as heartbreaking. Bernstein suggests surrounding yourself with your closest friends as you move through the healing process. "Being with [my close friends] has just reminded me of the types of friendships that I really want to have," she says.
6. If you find that your friend is constantly bringing you down, that friendship could be toxic.
Everyone has friends who are occasionally annoying or frustrating, but when it starts to affect your energy—that’s when things need to change. “If you feel that you’re weaker, if you feel that you’re depressed or sad or in some way not living in your truth as result of the friendship, that’s a sign that there’s toxicity,” Bernstein says.
7. There’s real value in surrounding yourself with people who inspire and support you.
As she’s gotten older, Helbig has discovered just how important it is to build a strong, supportive network of friends. “I really started to find the value in finding people who had a similar sense of humor, a similar drive for creating content… and learned as an adult that you are the company you keep,” she says.
8. And you should think about whether you’re putting more into the friendship than your friend is.
“There’s this weird pressure around being a good friend, but you don’t talk so much about the flipside of that, which is, well, is this selfish POS doing anything for you?” Benson jokes. But, in all seriousness, it’s OK to reevaluate whether your friend is really contributing to your life and your relationship.
9. Your friends should be people who are trustworthy AF.
For Helbig, this has meant finding friends whose opinions she trusts and truly values. “You want people that support you but that you can also take constructive criticism from,” Helbig says.
10. It’s natural for your friendships to evolve as you learn more about each other.
Helbig has two best friends, YouTubers Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart, whom she spends a ton of time with since they all work in the same industry. And though they’re great friends, they’ve had to learn how to communicate with each other when there’s an issue. “We’ve also learned when to give each other space, which is so important in friendship, to be able to manage your own expectations,” she says. “Me needing space isn’t me saying there’s an issue in our relationship. It’s just a normal human moment of needing some time apart.”
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.