If you’ve never had to go through the ending of an important friendship then using the term ‘break up’ might seem like an odd one. But for those who have been there or are currently navigating this strange type of heartbreak, it’ll be an all too familiar feeling.
The break up, break down or whatever you choose to call it, of a friendship can feel like a huge change in your life – especially if you’ve been really close to them, shared a number of experiences together or they’ve been in your life for a long time.
A lonely, confusing place
Personally, the break up of a 10 year friendship was not the first ending of a friendship for me – but it certainly hurt the most. Nothing makes sense and the person who was meant to be there forever, is now gone from your life.
People don’t seem to talk about the pain, confusion and anger of a friendship break up so it can be a lonely place. You (like me) might not want to come across as overdramatic or needy in response to the situation or be afraid that people won’t quite understand why you’re so hurt so you stay quiet and pretend it’s all okay.
It took me a long time to understand why me and my best friend were no longer compatible, why our relationship had come to an end and how the heck I was meant to move forward without her when she’d always been there.
Tips to deal with a friendship break up
If you’re struggling with the break up of a friendship, here’s some of my own advice and things I learned from the experience that might help you to move forward and start to feel better about yourself.
Accept how you’re feeling
Whether you’re a ball of rage or just want to burst into tears, I always think it’s important to accept how you’re really feeling and not try to put a ‘face’ on it.
Hiding how you’re feeling or trying to brush it under the carpet just drags out the healing process and can cause more confusion if you’re not allowing yourself to recognise your feeling and grieve for the end of the friendship (because yes, it feels like a loss).
Try to understand both points of view
Now this can be a hard one and might take some effort but it can be crucial to help you get some form of closure.
Try and understand what happened or why things aren’t working from both points of view as this can help you to get a better, fuller picture on what’s actually going on.
Don’t ignore your part
Depending on what happened, it might be worth considering the role you played in the ‘break up’.
Nobody wants to admit if they’ve done something wrong. I tried to avoid accepting any blame for the way things played out but it didn’t help at all.
After realising that I wasn’t completely blameless, I was actually able to be kinder to myself and my once best friend because I realised it wasn’t a one-sided attack on me and my personality, but that there were a number of reasons leading to the end.
What can you learn from it?
I believe that you can take any experience and learn something from it, hopefully turning it into something positive.
Don’t let the break up become a waste of time, energy and a relationship. Instead, try to understand what you want from friendships moving forward, how you might adapt any negative behaviours you have picked up and what your needs and boundaries are.
Focus on yourself
It’s likely you’re feeling a bit unsettled by the end of an important relationship so focus on what you need to do to feel better.
Start by thinking about what you can do to give yourself a boost, bring back any lost confidence and restore a bit of faith in friendships!
For me, this involved becoming more comfortable spending time alone which then led to me feeling more enthusiastic about meeting new people, because I now know I always have myself to rely on.
Meet new people and strengthen other relationships
Now is a great time to zone in on the positive relationships in your life and try and make more!
Spend more time and energy on people who make you feel good, inspired or comfortable rather that dwelling on what happened or what could have been.
It can be daunting at first to put yourself out there and reach out to new people but it’s a great way to build your confidence, have new experiences and get a different perspective on how friendships ‘work’ and what you can gain from different types of friendships.
Talk to someone
If you’re still struggling to understand what happened or you’re feeling really bad about the situation, please try and speak to someone – whether that’s another friend, a family member or a professional.
The end of my friendship was a massive change in my life and I only really started to address and process it when I spoke to my therapist about it.
It takes time
Unfortunately, there’s unlikely to be a quick fix for this. If you wake up one day and feel fine then that’s great!
However, it’s more likely that feeling ‘better’ will take some work on your part – but it’s worth it.
The break down of a friendship isn’t necessarily the best instigator of getting to know yourself and what you need from relationships but it’s a lifelong, important thing to do!
Take the time that you need to understand how you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it and what you can do to help ease or change that. Once you’re ready, you can then look to make positive changes that will turn a challenging situation into something you can learn and grow from.
You’ll be okay
Whatever you need to do to deal with the break up, feel better and find a way to move on is completely up to you.
I just hope this blog reminds you that you’re not alone in this situation and although it sucks, you’ll find your way through and be stronger in the end. Hopefully with some new, positive relationships too!