When to Stop Reaching Out to a Friend: 11 Signs It’s Time 

What does it mean when someone stops reaching out to you?

Additionally, when you stop reaching out, what’s the best way to let the other person know you’re over the relationship?

These are tough, emotional questions.

After all, friendship is an integral part of our lives that’s entangled with our mental health and sense of self-worth.

But don’t worry; there are answers and ways to stop reaching out to a friend that art thoughtful and compassionate.

That’s what we’re unpacking today.

So pull up and screen.

Let’s dive in.

Do you have a lopsided friendship?

Are you the one who always reaches out? Is it starting to make you feel bad about yourself?

We get it, and you are not alone. Finding yourself in this position can be demoralizing. You may be plagued with thoughts like:

  • Do they really like me?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • Do they talk about me behind my back?
  • Are they trying to “break up” with me, and I’m just not getting the hint? 

Resultantly, your mental health suffers, you become anxious or depressed, and you may even doubt your self-worth. 

In these situations, it’s vital to remember that life is complicated, and there could be a zillion reasons why your friend is not currently reaching out, and it may have nothing to do with you. Consider the following questions:

  • Are they going through a stressful period or transition?
  • Are they swamped at work?
  • Are they having family issues or complications?
  • Are you periodically going through different things?

If so, it may be just a phase. Otherwise, their lack of contact may be a sign that they’re upset or the relationship is simply coming to its natural end — which is natural and okay.

11 Signs It’s Time to Stop Reaching Out to a Friend

We all want a strong, supportive group of friends with whom we can laugh, cry, and support. 

Fortunately and unfortunately, life is complicated and ever-changing, and our friendships don’t always stand the test of time. Losing a buddy stings, but it’s part of life.

And knowing when to call it quits is a practical and valuable skill that can save you loads of mental turmoil.

So let’s unpack a few signs that giving up on friends may be the best move.

1. They’re Using You

You always reach out, and when you do, they inevitably ask you for a favor. 

If you’re the kind of person who always wants to support your buddies, you may not notice it at first. But after a while, the reality of them using you begins to eat away at your confidence. 

This is a potent sign that something is askew, and it may be time to end things.

2. They’re Going in a Different (and Dangerous) Direction

Is your friend starting to hang out with the “wrong crowd?” Are they doing drugs or engaging in other risky behavior? Or perhaps they’ve decided to be part of a group with hateful views.

woman looking at phone while eyes closed when stop reaching out to a friend

Whatever the case, their trajectory is concerning, and you don’t want to go along for the ride — nor enable it. 

3. You Don’t Like Being the One to Reach Out at All Times

Always being the one to send the text or make the call can be draining and make you question yourself. While there could be solvable reasons for the imbalance, your friend is unwilling to discuss it.

In these situations, your effort and their lack could be a red flag, and it may be time to reconsider the friendship. 

In these scenarios, stop reaching out first and see what happens. If the other person never contacts you again, then you’ll have your answer.

4. They’ve Betrayed You

You told your friend something in confidence and found out they blabbed to someone else about it. You’re greeted with a song, dance, and laundry list of excuses when you confront them. 

Look, we’ve all probably said something we shouldn’t at some point — especially when under the influence of alcohol. But if they can’t take accountability, it may be time to say, “sayonara.” 

5. You Start Catching Them in Lies

Honesty is a pillar of healthy relationships, whether platonic or romantic. So catching a friend lying can be a gut punch. 

Now, lying is a part of life. We all tell small fibs from time to time for various reasons. Maybe you’re trying to spare someone’s feelings or avoid unnecessary drama. It happens. And in some cases, it’s the right thing to do!

But when a friend starts telling whopper after whopper for no apparent reason, it may signal that it’s time to part ways. 

6. You’ve Grown Apart

Maybe you’ve started a family, and your friend is still partying every night. Or perhaps you’ve chosen a more new age path, and your pal is a traditionalist who can’t understand or respect your decision.

Whatever the case, you’re headed in different directions.

We’re not suggesting that friends must be the same and want the same things. But if the paths you’re on are diametrically opposed, it can be a challenge that’s not worth the stress.

7. They Make You Feel Bad

Is your friend constantly nitpicking you? Making passive-aggressive comments? When something good happens in your life, they can’t muster genuine happiness for you.

two young women talking to each other  when stop reaching out to a friend

When you try to talk about it with them, they gaslight you and insist that you’re the one who is being too sensitive. Or maybe they deny being a pill.

If so, it’s probably time to reevaluate the situation.

8. They Disregard Your Boundaries

Boundaries are important. They help frame our lives and keep us on the good side of sane.

A friend’s refusal to accept your boundaries is a form of disrespect. A true friend may not necessarily understand why you’ve created certain rules, but they comply because they love you.

So if you’re friends with someone who doesn’t care about your needs, it may be time to step away.

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9. Your Friendship Pattern Is Changing

Friends come in different frequencies. You talk to some people daily, and you catch up with others once a month — or maybe even once every six months.

But if the pattern starts diminishing, it may be a sign that something is changing, which can signify that the friendship is deteriorating.

10. They Drain You of Energy

They always need your attention, support, and kind words. But when you need a little love, they’re nowhere to be found — or they immediately turn the conversation around, so you wind up talking about their issues.

After spending a few hours with them, you wonder if a root canal would have been a more pleasant experience.

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to close shop on the friendship.

11. They Refuse To Discuss Tension

Everything isn’t rosy all the time, especially when it comes to relationships. Ups and downs are part of the equation. One marker of a true friendship is being able to talk through difficulties.

A friendship rooted in “toxic positivity” — i.e., the other person never wants to acknowledge challenges or hardships — is a disingenuous friendship that may not be worth the effort.  

Understand that it’s unwise to force someone into a conversation they don’t want to have.

So if you’re trying to salvage a friendship, but your efforts are constantly rebuffed, don’t insist. Interpret their refusal as a sign that they don’t want to be friends with you. 

If they do reach out to you after that and want to pretend like nothing is wrong, explain that you’re not comfortable continuing the friendship until the air is cleared.

How Do You Know if You’ve Outgrown a Friendship Altogether?

You’re confused. While you have genuine affection for someone and wish them the best, you don’t necessarily want to put in the effort. The emotional dichotomy has left you wondering: Have I outgrown the friendship?

Let’s look at a few signs that it’s probably time to break the bond.

1. Everything They Say Annoys You

Every time the person in question opens their mouth, something irritating flies out. In fairness, they may not be saying something untoward, but it crawls underneath your skin for whatever reason and starts nipping at your nerves.

If you’re flicking your head up and down, it’s likely time to move on. 

2. Your Values Are Clashing

We’re not suggesting you can’t be buddies with someone whose views aren’t identical to yours.

Heck, sometimes it’s fun and helpful to have a friend who can help you see things from a different perspective. 

But let’s be honest, when it reaches a point where you can’t respect them or vice versa, things will likely get ugly, and you don’t need that.

3. You’re Not Supportive of Each Other’s Ambitions or Goals

Part of being a friend is having your pal’s back. When you come to a crossroads where you can’t support their ambitions for one reason or another, it may be time to let go.

The same goes if they have a problem with yours or are dismissive of your goals. 

two girls relaxing on the couch while looking at their phones when stop reaching out to a friend

It doesn’t need to be a nasty separation, but it may be time to go in separate directions happily.

4. Everything Is a Drama

If the friend in question consistently shows up at your doorstep with a sack of negativity and drama, it may be a sign the friendship is no longer healthy — especially if it’s one-sided.

Sure, we all deal with rough patches. But if it’s become a never-ending saga, it could be time to walk away.

5. You No Longer Like Them

People change, and not always in the same ways.

And while media representations of friendships would have us believe that everyone always stays thick as thieves with their pals, the opposite is true. It’s exceptionally rare to hold onto friends for a lifetime. 

So if you can’t stomach someone anymore, wish them well and cut your losses. 

What To Do if Your Friend Asks Why You’re Not Reaching Out Anymore 

What’s the protocol when you stop reaching out? How can you respond when a friend brings it up? Let’s explore a few options.

  • Be Truthful: They say honesty is the best policy, and we’d agree that’s true 90% of the time. Though it’s not easy to be blunt in these situations, it’s often the best option if you want a clean break. Plus, it provides the other person closure, unlike ghosting.
  • Ghosting: Ghosting is an option. It’s not necessarily kind, especially if you just fell off and the person didn’t do anything flagrantly wrong. But when someone refuses to respect you or is emotionally abusive, it may be the only option.
  • Tell a Kind Lie: Eek! We’re not supposed to lie, right!? As we mentioned above, honesty is usually best, but not always. If the person in question is dealing with significant hardships, consider telling a lie that will spare their feelings. 

Final Thought

Healthy friendships are wonderful, but they don’t always last, and it’s okay to let go when things have gone south.

If the relationship no longer works for you, and you’re positive you won’t miss it down the line, it’s okay to sever ties. Let compassion and grace be your guide, but also trust your instincts.

Some friends are not just meant for a lifetime bond. Read this post and learn the signs of when to stop reaching out to a friend.

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