When Is It Time To Let A Friend Go?

Andrea Lucado

A while back, I spent a weekend wandering around a city where my good friend lives. I didn’t see him while I was there. I actually haven’t spoken to him in a few years.

We’ve lost touch and reaching out at this point would have felt strange.

I was there for a music festival with another friend and as we drove, I remembered him, this friend I’ve lost touch with, and wondered how he was. I wondered where his house was, or if I would run into him. I wondered if his family was ok and if he still looked the same.

We drove to and from the festival, and I wondered how the people of our past can continue to be a part of us.


I always hated saying goodbye to new friends at the end of summer camp, and the end of the school year and at graduations and after mission trips. I wanted to keep an email chain going with everyone so that none of us ever had to say goodbye.

We could all just keep in touch forever.

Of course by now I’ve realized this is impossible. What usually happens is you make promises to keep in touch, you sign each other’s yearbooks and then make three or four phone calls, write a couple of emails, send an un-returned text message, and it’s done. You sort of putter out.

And this, I’ve come to understand, is ok.

It’s ok for friendships to putter out because not everyone you cross paths with in life is meant to be on your journey for the long haul.

Some people come into your life for just a short time—and that’s okay.

My friend from above was pivotal for me at the time I knew him. We learned from each other and did our best to keep in touch and then years later I can drive around his city and smile and not feel bad about not texting him to let him know I’m in town.

We’re living our lives. We remember each other. It’s enough.

But then there is the other type of the friend. The friends who sticks around, regardless of your pitiful keeping-in-touch efforts.

I have a close friend I talk to on the phone every few months and see once or twice a year. We’ve lived at least a couple of countries apart for most of our adult lives, yet neither of us feels like we’re puttering out.

We know we are meant to be on each other’s journeys for the long haul even if that looks like an annual, rushed “I’m running through the airport, just wanted to say hey” kind of phone call.

Some relationships stick, while others, even with the greatest efforts, just don’t.

I believe this is for a reason.

I believe friendship should be as natural as possible. If you’re struggling with maintaining a relationship that is, despite your efforts, puttering out, don’t beat yourself up about it. It may be time to consider letting go of the relationship.

And as you walk forward, you may not have that person by your side anymore, but you will have what they taught you. You will have memories. In this way, I don’t know if we can ever really “lose touch” with anybody.

What I’ve learned since summer camp and high school graduation is that if we continued every friendship we’ve ever made, we would live impossibly exhausting social lives. It’s best, and healthiest, to gently let go of those friendships you know are fading away and gently, with gratitude, hold onto the ones you know never will.

Andrea Lucado

Andrea Lucado

Andrea Lucado is a freelance writer and Texas native who now calls Nashville, Tennessee, home. When she is not conducting interviews or writing stories, you can find her laughing with friends at a coffee shop, running the hills of Nashville or creating yet another nearly edible baking creation in her kitchen. One of these days she'll get the recipe right. Follow her on Twitter (@andrealucado) and Instagram, @andrealucado, or on her blog at AndreaLucado.com.

  • Juanita Cox

    “I believe friendship should be as natural as possible. If you’re struggling with maintaining a relationship that is, despite your efforts, puttering out, don’t beat yourself up about it. It may be time to consider letting go of the relationship.” This really resonated with me. I’ve had a lot of change in relationships over the past month. Basically except for one person and my husband all my closest friends love out of state. Some of those friendships have remained strong, I’ve noticed it’s made me cling to friendships closer to home and FORCE them to work just because I want friends. Thanks for this encouragement. Friendship isn’t always easy, but I think you’re right that it should be natural.

  • Rose

    What a beautiful article. I’ve found that trying to maintain friendships when I’m doing all the work is a sign that I need to let this person go. I love your encouragement to recall the person with fondness and what they taught you rather then using it as an excuse to beat yourself up or to blame them. It’s an important lesson for us all!

  • Eva

    Thanks for this article as I am struggling with letting go of a long-time friendship. It just isn’t working anymore for several reasons. We had lunch together recently and as always, she answered several phone calls and texts. None of which were of an emergency nature. I left my phone in the car, as I always do, because I like to give my attention to the person I am with. The next time she asks me to lunch I will probably be busy.