Friends are for life? Not always. When a friendship breakup occurs, the pain can be overwhelming. Learn to overcome the loss and focus on the future.
If you’ve recently undergone a friendship breakup, I feel your pain. We assume that our friends are going to be there for us through thick and thin, that nothing will ever change and we have a ‘ride or die’ for the rest of our days. The problem is, life doesn’t always work like that.
People change, situations happen, misunderstandings occur, and sometimes we just drift apart. When you aren’t as close to a friend anymore and suddenly notice that you haven’t spoken for days, weeks, or even months, it can be a punch to the gut. I know, I’ve experienced it enough times in my life.
Many people assume that relationship breakups are the worst, but I don’t agree. I think a friendship breakup is just as painful, and in some cases they can be even worse.
The reason why a friendship breakup is so painful is because you lay yourself bare. You are vulnerable and share everything. You tell them your secrets and experience events together that shape your life. And, you assume that you’ve found the missing piece of your extended family. When something goes wrong, you can’t quite figure out why.
The pain cuts so deep because you never saw an end. With a relationship, you always have that “let’s see how it goes” mindset. Of course, you want it to carry on and grow, but you know that relationships aren’t predictable. It turns out that friendships aren’t always predictable either.
I have experienced a few friendship breakups. In fact, I went through a period of time when I was losing friends quicker than water through a bucket with a hole in the bottom. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong and assumed there was something very bad about me.
It turns out that it was nothing of the sort. We all simply hit a point in our lives when change was occurring. Some of us were getting married, some were starting relationships, some were having children, some were going off traveling, and we simply didn’t connect anymore.
It was sad, and it hurt, but the gift of hindsight helped me to see that the friendship cycle has simply run its course. Not everyone is supposed to stay in your life forever, and making peace with that fact will allow you to let go of past hurt and move on.
First, to overcome a friendship breakup, you need to give yourself time. Don’t simply assume that you can shrug it off and move on quickly. This is something you need to almost grieve, something you need to think about, make peace with, and then allow yourself to look to the future.
#1 Admit you are hurt. First things first, you need to admit to yourself that you are hurting because you have experienced a friendship breakup. The type of pain is real and it’s deep, so don’t try and avoid admitting it to yourself. Acknowledging that you’re hurting is the first step to recovery. [Read: How to respond like a grownup when someone ignores you deliberately]
#2 Be kind to yourself. If you were experiencing a relationship breakup, you’d probably stay home, sit in your sweat pants, eat ice cream, and binge on Netflix to try and distract yourself. Why does it have to be different because it’s a friendship breakup?
A breakup of any kind is still a breakup, so make sure that you treat yourself with kindness to help you through the first stages of recovery and then continue it, simply because being kind to yourself is never a bad thing.
#3 Don’t dwell on the past. Of course you’re going to have memories together and you shouldn’t bury these deeply. They’re part of your past and something you’ll be able to smile back on after a little time, but for now, don’t dwell on things. Don’t go looking over old photographs and feeling nostalgic because you’re sure to suddenly start feeling down for no reason. [Read: How does it really feel when you miss someone]
#4 Focus on your health. Once you start to feel a little stronger, it’s a good idea to focus your mind on health and wellness. Do some exercise, join a gym, do something which benefits your health and makes you stronger in the process. The better you feel within yourself, the easier it will be to move through the stages of grieving a friendship breakup.
#5 Vocalize your pain. Speak to someone you’re close to and express how you’re feeling. Talk about the friendship breakup and work through your feelings vocally. Keeping everything inside is not going to help you to feel better, and it won’t help you to process. By being open about how you’re feeling you’ll find it easier to move on. [Read: How to overcome the pain of losing a best friend and find closure]
#6 Explore your local surroundings. You’ve been through a friendship breakup. While you probably still have other friends, it’s a good idea to get out and about and expand your friendship circle. Meeting new people gives you confidence and helps you to realize that the world does not end because a friendship has moved on. [Read: How to make new friends as an adult and how to do it right]
#7 Be honest with yourself about what happened. Is there something you can learn from it? Think about what happened and be honest with yourself. Don’t place all the blame on someone else if some of it is yours, but similarly, don’t shoulder all the blame if it’s not all yours to handle.
There is likely to be something you can learn from the experience, to put into practice in the future, and avoid the same thing happening again.
#8 Keep a check on how you’re feeling. After any type of breakup, friendship or otherwise, it’s easy to feel low. That’s normal. It’s not normal to feel extremely low or upset. Keep an eye on your mental health, and seek help if you feel like things might be slipping. This type of situation can easily affect how you feel on the inside and can act as a trigger towards depression.
What to keep in mind
There is one important thing to mention and it’s something you should keep in mind. Friendships can and do change. People change, just like you change, and it’s normal for friendships to twist and move through life. Just because you experience a friendship breakup doesn’t mean that you’re a bad friend. It simply means that a friendship you had in your life has either run its course, or this person simply wasn’t meant to be in your life for the long-haul.
Some friendships also pause themselves naturally and pick up again in the future. This can be confusing and hard to deal with in the interim, but focusing on yourself and enriching your life and your social circle will boost your confidence and help you understand the natural flow of life.
I had a friend who I grew up with since our toddlerhood. We went to school together, we did everything together until around the age of 17. Then we lost touch. For some reason, we didn’t speak until around 10 years later when we accidentally stumbled upon each other on Facebook.
There was no grand falling out and nothing of note happened, we just drifted. Now? We’re the best of friend once more. Life is odd sometimes, but you have to trust in its flow.