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How to let go of dead friendships

With a few taps on the shoulder, Charles Oliveira lost millions of dollars.

It's normal to wonder how shoulder taps could be so costly. But I will tell you how.

First, some background.

Oliveira is on an 11-fight win streak in the UFC's toughest division—lightweight. Oliveira set many records during this run, including the most UFC submissions. On top of that, he dominated the best lightweights in his last three fights/wins.

So many expected his next opponent, Islam Makhachev, to succumb to the Olivera era at UFC 280.

October 22, 2022, Oliveira and Makachev begin their bout.

Round 1

Charles and Islam go back and forth. And the round could be argued for either fighter.

Round 2

Charles intensifies the pressure but ends up getting hurt. And to recover, Charles goes to the ground since many of his opponents are afraid of his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. And wait for him to get back up.

But not Mackachev.

He followed Charles to the ground and grappled with him. After a minute or two, Islam has Charles in an arm-triangle choke. And it was not looking good for Charles.

I can't imagine what happened in Charles's mind during the chokehold. He was deemed the best lightweight, the most lethal Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter and the record finisher. And he was on the ground getting submitted.

No matter how hard he tried, he was stuck in the submission. He must have been going through an emotional roller coaster. Because Charles did not want to tap, but he didn't want to get a severe injury. Losing the fight would cost him millions of the champion pay.

A position he worked years to get.

Yet, Charles wanted to be healthy enough to fight again. So he put his left hand on Islam's shoulder and tapped. It was probably Charles's most difficult decision.

Another decision that is almost just as tough to make is letting go of some friendships. This one can be a touchy subject because it's rarely fun to end relationships of any kind, especially friendships.

But it's one of those things that we need to learn to handle in life.

Remember this: the way we handle things is a representation of how much we respect ourselves. Allowing poor friendships is a sign of poor self-respect.

But before I ramble on.

Let's get some of the signs of friendships worth letting go of.

Signs of a dying friendship

Some of these signs are obvious, and some are not. But that's for you to decide.

Signs to take note of are:

  • They rarely initiate contact.

  • They take more than one day to respond consistently.

  • It feels like you're putting more effort/enthusiasm into the relationship than the friend.

  • They don't share the big news with you until much later.

  • They don't invite you out, but you do.

  • They bail on plans with you.

Obviously, there can be a lot more, but I wanted to point out the one my friends and I have experienced. And if you see more than one sign consistently, it might be time to part from the friendship.

However, this might go against your instinct. And that's normal. We don't want to lose people in our lives. Yet, I'll tell you why you should ignore that impulse.

Father Gracian once wrote that friends are the second self.

So why would you have a second self that doesn't show the love you deserve?

Self-respect is paramount in life. And if you don't have it, your friendships will show that lack of respect for yourself.

It's harsh, but it's true.

As I said earlier, how you handle the external world indicates your internal self. So if you keep friends that don't put in effort for you, but you do, well, that shows you don't value yourself.

You only want friends that will love and respect you. And if you keep friends that don't show either, then you are communicating to yourself and the world that you don't deserve it.

Reading so many ancient works, I was surprised to see how they valued friendships. They deemed friendships as one of the most essential things in life. I'm not going too deep on this topic, but I get a sense of the underlying philosophy.

Friendships represent who you are as an individual. Just as much as your actions represent who you are.

It's like the corny saying:

You are the average of your five closest friends.

If friendships can have such an effect on us, then why settle for dying friendships? If you're convinced, let's learn when to let them go.

Letting go

Obviously, everyone has to judge for themselves. But a rule of thumb is that if any of the signs I mentioned earlier persist for more than six months, then cut your losses.

I understand people can be busy and all. But again, if someone loves and respects you, they will make time for you. Of course, you will better understand the situation and friendship.

But don't lie to yourself.

Some dying friendships might be worth keeping alive due to circumstances. Yet, most of them are not.

And if you don't believe me, try this simple test.

Refrain from reaching out and making any effort. See if they will reach out.

And if they don't pass this test, it's time to accept the friendship as dead.


All you have to do is believe that you deserve better.

You deserve people who respect you.

You deserve people who love you.

You deserve people who want to be with you.

When you understand this, you can accept that friendship has run its time. Yes, you had good times and fun memories. But that was part of a past life. And to get the things you want in life, you need to move on.

Again, this isn't easy.

But creating a life you enjoy with people who want to be part of it requires self-respect and the courage to let go.

Sometimes these dying friendships are hard to let go of. Especially if we mischaracterize them.

What about the friends we don't need to talk to all the time?

These are special friendships. You can go years without talking but pick up right where you left off. And are enthusiastic about hanging out (when feasible).

As unique as these are, they are weird. They are not dying friendships, but the dynamic of it makes it not need to be in constant engagement.

However, these friendships are rare.

And this is not the norm for friendships in general. The critical difference between these weird friendships and dying ones is the enthusiasm present. In dying friendships, you rarely feel the enthusiasm from the other person in seeing you. But in the weird one, they are enthusiastic about linking up when they can.

I have experience with both types of friendship.

And to show you I know what I am talking about, let's talk about my experience of a friendship that died.

Me and Richard

I met Richard when I went to business school. Richard was a cool guy. He was a varsity athlete, charismatic, and fun to be around.

Although we came from different backgrounds, we clicked. It was a great friendship. We had long talks, he invited me out, and we just had great times.

I was there for him when he broke up with his long-time girlfriend, and he was there for me when I needed it.

However, as Richard found his career and new girlfriend, we naturally hung out less. We texted back and forth. But one thing I noticed was how I usually initiated the texts. And when I moved across the country, I would check in on him and arrange phone calls every few months. But he never initiated. And when we did book calls, it was for 30 minutes in his tight schedule. Although the signs of the dying friendship were there, I kept making an effort.

But then came the final nail in the coffin.

Richard told me about his wedding a year in advance. And he never invited me.

That hurt.

I understand that he may not have had enough tables/seating post-COVID. But in our last conversation, I mentioned his wedding, and he didn't even say he was not inviting me. I would have accepted if he had given me an excuse or anything.

But he didn't.

And I still didn't accept the friendship was dead until my wife pointed out how he didn't mention the wedding in our chat or an invite.

At that point, I realized my friendship with Richard had ended.

So a day before his wedding, I sent him well wishes.

And I deleted his number.

He has yet to reach out since. It was challenging and sad but necessary. Because I only want people in my life who love and respect me. And to be honest, having those types of people around me has made the loss of Richard less hurtful.

With that oscar deserving story, you want to avoid the mistake I made during my friendship with Richard.

Trying to rekindle the dead friendship.

This is a simple mistake to fall in. Because we don't want to accept that the friendship is dying. It's tough letting go sometimes.

Before I let go of Richard, I tried hard to keep the friendship alive. Even though it was all me doing the heavy lifting.

To avoid this mistake, you have to remind yourself you deserve better. As I said earlier in this article:

You deserve people who respect you.

You deserve people who love you.

You deserve people who want to be with you.

We have to ingrain this in our heads.

Or if we are having trouble, to go see a therapist. Because we have to be the ones to enact this in our lives.

Otherwise, we'll have dying friendships that are meaningless. It's not easy, but you must remember that you deserve better. And if people aren't meeting your standards for being a friend, you let them go.

And to make sure I meet your standards for articles, I'll summarize this article.


  • Signs of a dying friendship are plenty. But more than one consistent sign at a time might tell you the friendship is dead.

  • To keep dying friendships is an indication of little self-respect.

  • A rule of thumb: any of the signs, as mentioned earlier, persisting for more than 6 months is a good indication to let the friendship go.

  • The best way to accept dead friendships is to understand that you deserve better.

  • Friendships that don't need constant interactions are different than dying friendships. The former is rarer, so don't go confusing dying friendships for them.

  • Trying to rekindle dead friendships is a mistake that wastes time and energy. Need to accept that you deserve better to avoid this mistake.

Hopefully, this was an okay subject.

But I wanted to show you how to navigate the things we will most likely face. Especially on friendship matters, a neglected topic in much personal development content.

If we can't handle things like friends, how can we expect to handle other types of relationships?

It's not easy and can come at a price.

But like Charles Oliveira, we must give ourselves a chance for the future.

Until next time,


The Charismatic Nerd


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