To unfriend, or not to unfriend?

This post is coming from the suggestion box!

If you have a Facebook profile, you likely have many friends who you have connected with via the social media giant over the years.  However, times change, lives change, people change, and you may no longer wish to be connected to some of those friends.  Many people just let the friends list grow because it is hard to disconnect.

Why is it so difficult?  Here are a few reasons:

  1. Drama.  I’m not saying it’s right, but people tend to feel rejected or snubbed when you unfriend them  I have unfriended people who add me right back, and even send me messages demanding an explanation.  Often it is easier just to let these people remain on your list than to deal with the drama of unfriending.
  2. Office politics.  If you’re friends with one coworker but not others, it can make things awkward in the office.  Many people circumvent this drama by having an all or none policy for work acquaintances and friends.
  3. They’re family.  Many Facebookers feel compelled to accept the friend requests of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, long lost relatives, etc.  And that’s why Facebook is great, because it allows you to keep in touch with family and friends you don’t see often.  However, I have noticed that many people feel obligated to keep family members on their Friends list, even if they don’t get along or even like the person, and then they feel frustrated every time they interact with the person.


Whether we like it or not, Facebook is a huge part of people’s lives.  And life is too short to surround ourselves with people we don’t like, even digitally.  You do not owe it to anyone to keep them on your Friends list.  And it’s okay to say no to a request.


Take a look at your Friends list and evaluate the following questions:

  1. Why did I accept this request (or send it)?  Maybe you’re related, you work together, you needed more friends for a Facebook game to get more prizes, you had a class project together one time in college, your children are friends, you agree about a cause, or any other reason.  None of these reasons are good or bad, as long as they make sense to you.  Thinking about your motivation for beginning the “Friendship” in the first place can make you think more critically about why they are still around.
  2. Do I like this person? If you genuinely dislike a person and you are not actually friends, what are you doing allowing them to comment on your personal life?
  3. Is there a reason I have not unfriended them?  Maybe it’s office politics, maybe your mom expects you to keep all of your family from her side on your Facebook, maybe they’re just a perpetual boomerang and you’d rather not deal with it.  Once again, you don’t owe anyone anything.  If you don’t want Jane from Accounting seeing the details of your weekend, you can remove her from your list.
  4. Is this connection appropriate?  If you use strong language in posts or are very political or opinionated on Facebook (who isn’t opinionated on the internet?), you may want to re-think adding children, coworkers, conservative family members who may be offended, etc.
  5. Does this person add value to my life?  If you are like most people, you’re on Facebook every day.  Do your Friends add value, or do you have to sort through a lot of updates you don’t care about  to find the ones you do?
  6. Is there a better place for us to connect?  You can keep professional contacts within digital reach via LinkedIn.  You can follow friends or celebrities on Twitter, without getting all of the updates in your Facebook feed as well.  If you like someone’s photography, see if they have a Flickr profile.  You get the idea — if there is a better place to connect, look into it.
  7. Would I invite this person to my home?  If you wouldn’t want a person in your home, think hard about keeping them in your digital world.
  8. Is being Friends with this person online in any way detrimental to my mental health, or the mental health of someone I care about?  This one has a broad range of depth.  Personally, I have considered unfriending my ex-husband’s siblings — even though I am still good friends with them — simply because I am still processing my divorce and seeing my ex on their profiles may be impeding my healing process.  Other situations in this “mental health” category include people who stay Facebook Friends with someone who has assaulted, bullied, or otherwise hurt them or someone close to them, and the connection is continually upsetting.

Go through and unfriend the people that aren’t adding real value to your life,and especially unfriend the people who actively detract value.

Some other valuable Facebook tips:

Facebook has a “Restricted List” feature, with which you can block people from seeing your updates without unfriending them.  It’s a way to keep the connection, should you ever need to get in touch, but  they will not be able to see your status updates, shared links, etc.

Facebook also has privacy settings under which you can set how easy it is for people to find you.  If no one can search for you on Facebook, then no one can send you a random friend request you feel compelled to accept for whatever reason outlined above, or another.

Facebook offers a block feature for the people who you really don’t want to interact with but who won’t  leave you alone.  Get some peace by blocking them, and they won’t be able to see any of your updates or even access your profile.

You can also remove people from your News Feed.  You remain friends with the person, but their updates do not appear on your homepage.

How do you keep your Friends List under control?



10 thoughts on “To unfriend, or not to unfriend?

  1. I have always been a the “more the merrier” type and that has extended to my Facebook friends. The result is that I don’t share many details because I don’t know “who’s watching”. I like the Restricted List feature. Good tip for the more Social Media inept crowd

  2. I’m pretty harsh with my Facebook friends- I basically work on the ‘am I ever going to see them again/would I make the effort to go and see them’ and if the answer is no, off they go. Also, if I am not close friends with them and they post whiny stuff that irritates me, bye bye! It’s good to keep the friend list current I think.

    1. I agree! I have over 100 friends and I need to do a good purge. There are some people that just aren’t adding value.

  3. About two years ago I had well over a hundred friends, which was a lot, for me. Then I got a feeling I didn’t want to be on Fb at all, so I deactivated my account and actually manually deleted all the info I’d put there…It lasted about half a year and then I went back. Now I’ve had around 50 friends for a year and a half and that’s fine with me. It’s still too much in a sense that not all of these fifty people are actively there or not actively in my life, but it’s ok, for now. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend what I did to anyone else, and I had actually unfriended some people before that, but perhaps I needed a clear break and a fresh start. Nowadays I hide (for a while) what I don’t want to see and see if I still have some connection – in real terms – with that person after a while. Interesting topic!

  4. If you still get on with your ex husband’s family but don’t want to see his profile, you can block him on Facebook. I have done it with ex’s in the past during my grieving and healing process, and then unblocked them when I was indifferent to seeing their profile pic 🙂

  5. I delete people without apology. It’s all people I have not spoken to in many years, or the occasional person I no longer like, and no one has said anything yet but if they did I wouldn’t really care. I do keep certain people if I feel like they’d be good for networking later, or to avoid hurting feelings. I just hide them from my newsfeed if they’re annoying 😛

    1. Good points. I keep some people who are previous customers of a home-party business, and I still sell them stuff sometimes even though I stopped doing the parties. And I seem to have collected about half of my sister’s sorority on my friends list, which I don’t mind really. Thanks for commenting!

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