10 Signs It’s Time to Dump Your Friend

While no breakup is easy, one of the hardest kinds is ending a relationship with a friend. Since, unlike with family, you can pick your friends, choosing wisely will ensure you have a solid group of besties. A good friend is there for you no matter what life may bring, but a bad friend can oftentimes make life’s obstacles even more challenging, and sometimes be the catalyst for a downward spiral. If you’re wondering whether a certain friend is worth your time, these signs will help illuminate if you need to cut him or her loose.

1. They’re only around when they need something

Students moving in

Are they only willing to hang out when they need assistance carrying boxes? | mangostock/GettyImages

Whether it’s venting about an obnoxious co-worker or asking for a helping hand when they move to a new apartment, if you notice you’re only hearing from your friend when they’re in need, he or she might not be a great friend. “Try to set some boundaries around ‘helping’ and inviting them to other things instead,” Helen Odessky, clinical psychologist and author of Stop Anxiety From Stopping You, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet. “If they resist, it’s likely they’re not in the friendship for the right reason, so you should move on.”

2. They don’t support your goals or values

Young asian woman sitting at table doing assignments in college library.

Friends should encourage your goals, including going back to school. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

No matter how long the two of you have been friends, you should support each other’s endeavors in all areas of life. Whether it’s your New Year’s resolution to exercise more, mission to travel to one new country each year, or decision to abstain from unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking, your friend should support your goals. “If he or she pulls away or shames you in any way for the things in your life you’re enthusiastic about or hold dear, it’s time to move on,” Kathryn Moore, Ph.D. and psychologist at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California, told us.

3. They skip out on important events

Sad college student sitting on a bench in park

A good friend knows which events to prioritize. | iStock.com/Ljupco

While there are many legitimate reasons a close friend of yours might not be able to make your wedding or graduation day, if they’re repeatedly not making an effort, you might want to ask yourself why. “If your friend does not attend your special event because he or she doesn’t care enough about you, that tells you they’re not very invested in what’s most important to you,” Paulette Kouffman Sherman, psychologist and author, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet.

4. They don’t call when you’re ill or have a death in the family

Desperate woman getting support

He or she should be there when things are tough. | iStock.com/oneinchpunch

This is especially a big deal if you let them know you need them, or that something happened. “People do get busy these days, but a true friend will drop almost anything to be there for you when you’re in a crisis situation,” Sherman said. “If you let them know you would like them to see you after surgery or be there for you after a funeral, they will hopefully make an effort to do so.” But if they completely ignore the situation and turn their back on you, they may only be in the relationship for the fun times in life, not the tough challenges.

5. They talk behind your back

Gossip girls criticizing another woman

Do they snicker behind your back? That’s not what a friend should do. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

A friend is someone you should feel completely comfortable talking to about the happy aspects of life, as well as some of the more challenging or serious issues. You shouldn’t have to doubt whether or not they’re capable of offering support and keeping things confidential. “If a friend is sharing your secrets and speaking negatively about you behind your back, there is no trust in that relationship and you can consider moving on,” Sherman said.

6. They flake all the time

Young woman using cellphone in the park cafe

If you can make it to dinner on time, your friend should be just as capable. | iStock.com/Bokeshi

If you notice that your friend is frequently unreliable and calls off plans at the last minute, it may be because they’re not prioritizing your relationship. “Sure, things come up that keep people from following through on commitments, but if this happens consistently, you might want to reconsider your friendship,” Moore said. “You can either understand that this is the way your friend is and accept that he or she might not show up when planned, or move on to find someone who is more dependable.”

7. They’re overly critical of you

Two women arguing on the street

There’s a different between sharing an opinion and criticizing. | iStock.com/princigalli

A good friend will be honest, and perhaps point out, some areas where you can improve — they may even disagree with you when they feel strongly about something. But when your friend is constantly criticizing, he or she has got to go. “If your friend is mistreating you, judging you, or putting you down, these could be signs of an emotional abuser,” Moore explained. “If any of these happen and your so-called friend does not stop once you communicate that it upsets you, then run, don’t walk, away from him or her.”

8. They’re consistently jealous

Two angry businesspeople disputing

A jealous friend is a toxic friend. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

“As a therapist I’ve seen many good people who are occasionally jealous of a friend and may compare themselves at times, which hurts them as well as their friend,” Sherman said. “But if a friend is consistently jealous he or she will be unhappy whenever good things happen to you, which is not a foundation for a truly supportive, healthy relationship.” Admiration is one thing, but this type of envy simply isn’t healthy for a friendship. 

9. They put you down in subtle ways

Young Woman Discussing Problems

Friends should make you feel better, not worse. | iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

Whether it’s one-upping you when you’re sharing a success or simply failing to acknowledge something good that’s happening in your life, criticizing you is a bad sign. A good friend will be supportive no matter what you wear, who you date, or what kind of car you drive. “A good friend may point out when they think you might be heading down the wrong path, but will communicate this in a compassionate way,” Odessky pointed out. “If you feel diminished in your friendship it may be time to distance yourself.”

[Correction, 5/1/17: An earlier version of this story mistakenly attributed the above quote to Paulette Kouffman Sherman. It has been updated to reflect Helen Odessky is being quoted.]

10. They’re always negative and only talk about their life

disapproval of offer situation isolated on gray background. Negative human emotions, facial feelings

Their negativity will end up bringing you down. | istock.com/SIphotography

A good friendship flows from one person supporting the other and vice versa — that’s part of life. But if you notice your friend is always complaining about his or her life and only talking about their problems, the draining relationship will just bring you down. “If you’ve talked to your friend about it and determined that this is a ‘victim pattern’ and is not just situational, it may be time to distance yourself from this person,” said Sherman.

[Editor’s note: This story was originally published May 1, 2017]