When it is time to let go of a friendship for good.

Posted by Bijal Shah on

Sometimes friendships run their course. We all want them to last forever and be perfect! However we are not perfect and similarly nor are our friends. They will disappoint. We will disappoint them. That is the nature of human relationships and when it is time to move on, it’s about embracing the new and letting go of the old. Perhaps we should celebrate our old friendships for what they were, for the meaning and joy that they gave us and smile in their memory. 

Recently a couple of my close friendships seem to have died a sudden death. One should have ended a long time ago however the curse of having friends from our nappy-wearing days obliges us to make the friendship work! This history that we shared makes us feel that they know us better than anyone else yet they may have missed important developmental milestones during our transition to adulthood that make us a completely different person.

This was the issue I had with this friend, who refused to acknowledge that after a rocky decade in my 20s, my life had changed for the better - my marriage, the birth of my beautiful daughter and the purchase of our gorgeous home in Hampstead. Everything was going well for me yet I sensed she was not happy for me. Whether it was envy, I could not tell. However I could sense a shift in her attitude towards me – rejecting plans to meet up, birthday invitations and general radio silence.

I considered confronting her to work out what was really going on. She definitely was not the confrontational type ( and believe me I have confronted my friends in the past when it has bothered me and now we are closer than before.) It came down to whether I wanted to save the friendship (was it important enough for me). On reflection I was happy for the friendship to naturally run its course. In fact it should have ended a long time ago yet for whatever reason we try to make it work/last.

We no longer had anything in common. We rarely wanted to make the effort for each other. We just didn’t have those feelings of affection or care towards each other anymore. It was time for the friendship to end; and it was time for me to be true to myself.

My other friendship died a death for a different reason: the realisation on my part that I had a problem with my friend’s character. Meeting up would only ever happen when it was convenient for her. If something was important to you, she would only participate in it if it was convenient for her. It didn’t matter that this was important for you. Plus there were constant opinions about everything. It felt like a one-way street. This time I did confront – however there was no awareness or acknowledgement of her behaviour. I was told that I was being unfair. Furthermore, everything was expected to go back to normal. This friendship slowly fizzled. I just could not see my friend changing and it was up to me to accept that this was just who she was; and perhaps I needed to recognise that I had a choice. I could choose where I wanted to invest my time and energy – there was no obligation to continue with something that was draining and gave nothing back. I had to be true to myself and my feelings about others.

The letting go of friendships, allows us to be our authentic selves inviting new people and friendships into our lives that may be better placed to meet our friendship goals and needs. Try it. It might be the most liberating thing you have done.

Whilst you ponder on this, here are five wonderful books about broken friendships/relationships that will give you the courage, faith and empowerment to heal and move forward again:


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

A charming novel about fake friendships and fake people by Jane Austen that captures how fickle people can be set in an engaging story full of heart felt drama, romance and friendship story about a young woman venturing away from home for the first time and frequenting the social circles of Bath.

Best Friends Forever by Irene S Levine

An insightful book in the world of female friendships, which will leave you with the perhaps obvious realisation that friendships are never permanent, they are fluid, dynamic and uncontrollable. The book validates the feelings of disappointment, confusion, loss, anger that you may have when going through a difficult period in a friendship.  We often feel devastated when a close “BFF” (“best friends forever”) friendship ends for no reason. Empathetic and full of relevant advice, the books helps is to make sense of the loss, work through our feelings of pain and hurt and move forward to build stronger and better friendships going forward. The book will also motivate you to be a better friend.

What Did I Do Wrong by Liz Pryor

Using examples and stories of friendship breakups from her own personal life, the author brilliantly articulates how the female friendship has been seen to be perfect with us forever attached at the hip to our BFF. Yet the reality of female friendship is so different and most women go through a BFF break up at some point in life. The book details how to get over a bad breakup from working through the feelings of anger, loss, shame, confusion and hurt to initiating friendship break ups yourself and choosing better friends in the future. 

The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burnt Out or Faded Away by Jenny Offill & Elissa Schappell

As the title suggests, the book is a collection of stories of friendships going sour for a variety of reasons from one person changing, to friendships ruined by competition, personal ambition or for no other reason than having ran their course. What’s unique about this book is that the two contributors to the book were once best friends and outline their side of the story of what caused their painful breakup. With a range of emotions touched upon in the book, you will find the stories relatable in many different ways.

Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

A story about two best friends going to university in Dublin for the first time after having spent their childhood and teenage years in the Irish countryside of Knockgeln. A beautiful concoction of characters as the girls come-of-age in this heart-warming book of a new life, new friendships, romance and tragedy. A hugely comforting read.


Have you had friendships that have run their course or that you wish would? Tell us in the comments section below!


A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.

You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.

In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish a book called The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at bijal@booktherapy.io or www.booktherapy.io.

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