Two-thirds of Americans say they’ve ended a friendship

Jamie BallardData Journalist
May 08, 2023, 8:40 PM GMT+0

Breaking up is hard to do. A recent YouGov survey asked Americans about friend breakups: whether they’ve initiated them or been broken up with, and the best way to initiate them.

Most (68%) Americans have decided to end a friendship and followed through with it, while 24% say they have not. People who are members of Generation X (73%) or are Baby Boomers (69%) are more likely than millennials (65%) or Gen Zers (60%) to have broken up with a friend.

(Generation Z is made up of people born in 2000 or later; Millennials were born between 1982 and 1999; members of Generation X were born between 1965 and 1981; and Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Data on members of the Silent Generation is not reflected in charts or copy because data on this group is typically limited. These definitions of the birth years of members of each generation differ from Pew Research Center’s and others; there is no single official definition.)

Slightly fewer (52%) say they’ve been on the receiving end of this and had someone end a friendship with them. About a quarter (24%) say this has not happened to them, while an equal percentage say they’re not sure whether this has happened to them — friendship breakups aren't always clear-cut.

Members of Generation X (55%) are slightly more likely than Baby Boomers (52%), Millennials (52%), or Gen Z’ers (47%) to say someone has ended a friendship with them.

Baby Boomers are more likely than younger generations to be unsure whether anyone has ended a friendship with them.

When it comes to the process of ending a friendship, there are two main options: a straightforward conversation to cut things off, or quietly pulling away. Which do Americans think is the better approach?

About half (52%) think it’s better to be upfront and tell someone the friendship is over; fewer (32%) think it is better to slowly pull away. Another 17% are uncertain.

Men and women are similarly likely to say it’s better to be upfront (53% vs. 50%).

Related: Do Americans stay friends with their exes?

— Linley Sanders, Taylor Orth, and Carl Bialik contributed to this article

Methodology: This Daily Questions survey was conducted online on February 24 - 27, 2023 among 31,380 U.S. adults. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party.

See results of this poll:

Image: Adobe Stock (Vadym)

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