Is it time to Marie Kondo your friendships? (& how to know who sparks joy)

We know we can Marie Kondo our house, our wardrobe, and even our photos. But can we go as far as choosing who spark joy in our friendships?

We know we can Marie Kondo our house, our wardrobe, and even our important papers and photos.

But can we go as far as Marie Kondoing (See it’s now even a verb!) our friendships?

Of course, we can! Anywhere in our lives where we can make a difference between things that spark joy or not, there is room for improvement.

…and of course, people are not things. I’m not asking you to donate Felicia to the charity shop. We can’t let go of a friend as easily as we can let go of an old jumper. But we can use the same principle. And I have a system that will help you both define and clean out your friendship group without hurting too many feelings.

I have this theory that our friendships are located in one of three circles.

Circle 1

We have to imagine that we are the center point in the first small circle and around us are our best friends. Normally we have up to 5 best friends. It’s hard to keep a close relationship with more people than 5 people at one go. (This does not include family, we are only talking friends here). In this group, we will find our ride or die besties. The ones we call first when we have a problem or good news to share. These people will have a heavy impact on our lives.

Circle 2

The next circle outside of the small one is a bit bigger, and this is where our regular friends hang out. I have about 20 people in this circle. These are the people we spend time with now and then. We know them pretty well but wouldn’t prioritize them over one of our best friends. This is where school buddies, certain work colleagues, playgroup moms we brunch with, other couples we hang out with, and our party friends fit in. They are lovely to hang out with, they would get an invite to my wedding, but our friendship isn’t all that deep. These friends will affect us, but not to the same extent as our best friends,

Circle 3

The last circle is our acquaintances. The people we would say hi to on the street, but not really stop to have a chat with. We know each other’s names, but won’t really be hanging out together unless there was a very specific reason. People we like, but don’t really know all that well. These guys effect on our lives is pretty minor. Let’s say this is about 100 people.

So if we do the maths I would say I have about 125 friends in my circles. Of course, there are more people in my life, but I wouldn’t really call them friends. They have other roles.

We know we can Marie Kondo our house, our wardrobe, and even our photos. But can we go as far as choosing who spark joy in our friendships?

So how do I make sure I have the right people in the right circles?

I’m not asking you to sit down and specify who all of these people are, it would take forever. But you should know who is in circle 1. Because these guys are seriously important to you. Make sure you take great care of them. To keep the Marie Kondo analogy going – They are your Hermes and Chanel and they should spark lots of joy. Great friendships are rare and special. They are worth fighting for and have the potential to last you a lifetime.

If you find that you have someone in your first circle that leaves you with a bit of a funny feeling or makes you feel down. Maybe they are a great friend when you are in need, but have a hard time being happy for you when you do well? Do you always end up talking about them and very rarely about you? These are all red flags.

What’s really important to remember here is that everyone has ups and downs in their life. We all go through rough times when we might lean more on our friends than they lean on us. And that is completely ok. It all evens out in the end.

You have to learn to know the difference between someone who is going through a rough patch and can’t be a great friend right then and someone who just doesn’t spark joy anymore. The former is a chance to show what a great friend you are and the latter is due a circle relocation.

If someone just doesn’t live up to the circle 1 standards and don’t spark joy, they get bumped to circle 2 (unless they are a total bitch and you hate them of course, then wish them well and let them loose in the universe).

The great thing with this system is that you can bump someone down without them even noticing. You will still see them from time to time. But you won’t prioritize them as heavily. It’s a very un-dramatic way to make sure someone has less influence on your life.

The same applies from circle 2 to circle 3. Just move them down and out mentally and the rest will follow.

This way it’s really easy to know exactly who we should be putting our time and energy into. Time is one of the most precious things we have, we can’t buy or extend it in any way. So to spend time with someone is a great gift. We only have so much of it, so we have to know how to prioritize.

They say that you become like the people you spend time with. And I truly believe in this. If you hang out with petty, gossipy, moany and energy-zapping people. You will feel pretty crap after a while. But if you spend time with someone who cheers you on, believes in you, trusts you and makes you want to be better. Then you will be a happier person.

Life is not like Facebook. It’s not about the number of friends we have, it’s who we are friends with. It’s quality over quantity in it’s truest form. This is why it’s so important to relocate within your circles (people can, of course, move up and in too!).

Is it time for you to Marie Kondo your friendships? I have done it and it’s actually even more liberating than doing my wardrobe.

Photo – Ida Zander. Friend – Miranda. Location – Minnow Clapham.


  1. Wonderful post, Tess! I love the idea of Kondo-ing your friendships.. It definitely helps with prioritizing your schedule and managing your time.

    Dee ~ Vanilla Papers

  2. I was able to relate to this post 100 per cent. I recently “Marie Kondo’d” a friend who had been in my Circle 1. Over time, that particular friendship became tainted with negative feelings and there came a point where I no longer wanted to communicate with or see them anymore. It’s sad when a long-term friendship fizzles out, but it’s a natural part of life, isn’t it? People change and not all friendships are meant to last a lifetime.

    1. You are so right. We often feel that we are obliged to stay friends with someone we have known for a long time. But if the relationship is toxic, it will only hurt us. So we have to be mindful of who we dedicate our time and energy to.

  3. This sounds harsh on the surface, but I have found myself being more selective with who I spend my time and energy on and have slowly started downgrading some friends that I used to hang out with all the time. One couple in particular is so negative and I end up feeling awful and resentful every time we hung out. And other friends have grown closer through time. I suppose everyone changes and nothing lasts forever.

    xoKaelen |

    1. I think at times, we have to be a bit harsh to make sure we guard our own time, mental state and well-being. As long as we are mindful of the way we release a friend, it doesn’t have to be bad or dramtic. I completely agree with what you say about changing and growing.

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