Is It Time to Downgrade Your Friendship?

Shaaz Nasir

Is It Time to Downgrade Your Friendship?

Young professionals are at a stage in their life when friendships can be the source of sheer happiness or immeasurable pain. We are not too sure who we are, let alone trying to figure out others. I have had countless discussions with young professionals who have, or are going through, a rough break up with their friend.

I would argue that breaking up with your girl or boyfriend is actually less of an issue relative to the close friend you once thought would always be there for you. Aggregating the stories I have heard and experience over the past few years, I can share some thoughts on how to maximize your time spent with great friends while downgrading the fading ones.

The Solution Comes Down to Being a Credit Agency

The job of a credit agency is to assign values to financial products for potential investors.

Credit agencies can “downgrade or upgrade” an institution’s fiscal standing due to a whole host of complex reasons determined by fancy algorithms. An upgrade means Investors should consider buying, while a downgrade indicates it may be time to look elsewhere for profits.

Young professionals must act like credit agencies to assess the value of their friendships.  You don’t need statistical modeling to properly determine what friendships to upgrade or downgrade. You just need common sense based on a basic cost benefit analysis.  I understand that this approach may sound very cold and heartless. However, I can assure you that once you have gone through the process you will have never felt this warm and alive.

The Cost Benefit Analysis

1.    Write down the positives and negatives of having this particular friendship. Be Honest.

2.   Take a step back and just let all those emotions and thoughts sink in.

3.   You can try to save it by investing more time, or you can downgrade it.

4.   Repeat the above steps for all your major friends.

Don’t be shocked to see some close friends failing the CBA (meaning they have more negatives impacts on you than positive). It is time to be brave and downgrade them. Here is a ranking scheme you can use with a “close friend” being the highest quality and the “stranger” being the very lowest (basically you’re not friends any more).


1.    Close Friend

2.   Friend

3.   Close Acquaintance

4.   Acquaintance

5.    Stranger

I am giving you the basic tools needed to better assess your friendships. It is impossible for me to tell you in detail what signs indicate a need for a downgrade. However, once you realize that certain friendships need to be downgraded, you can better allocate your resources to real friendships.  You are a busy young professional that is trying to figure out your career and personal life. You don’t have enough emotional energy nor time to waste. For example, most of you that are reading this article may be spending a lot of time on a level 4, while ignoring a level 2. Wake up to reality and aggressively chop out the ones who just don’t add value to your life.

How to Downgrade?

The answer to this question depends on numerous variables that can be discussed for decades. To keep things simple, reduce the amount of time spent with them to a point where no communication is evident. Depressing? Yes. Necessary? YES.

Avoid the Sunk Cost

A sunk cost is when a person throws a lot of effort behind something he is trying to save that has zero chance of being saved. He is throwing good resources (time, money etc…) after a dud.

If you can feel a friendship slipping away, it is fine to throw more time in an attempt to save your level 1 plummeting to a level 5. However, if there is no reciprocal effort being shown to save the friendship, you must downgrade it.  Otherwise you face losing your level 1 friends as you fail to invest your finite resources into them. Once you give up on the friendship you can spend more time with your real friends to better learn and personally develop.

If you are struggling to cut that once glorious friend, congratulations, you are human. However as Dr. Seuss once said “Don’t cry because it is over,  smile because it happened”. Breaking up with a friend takes a horrendous toll on your mind.  Yet, overtime, you will feel much better when you begin to upgrade your true friends and spend more time with the ones that love you.

The emotions needed to downgrade your friends are not so cold and heartless after all eh?

It is all about better allocating your resources to the ones that make an equal effort to keep the friendship alive. This type of analysis can apply to all levels of your life from girl friend to friends.

To wrap it all up, credit agencies did not do the best job in properly valuing financial products. This was one of the factors that lead to the chaotic financial crisis that the world is still paining from. Point being; avoid a friendship crisis by taking the time to properly assessing the value of your friends and downgrading when necessary.