Friendships play a vital role throughout our lives. In childhood, friends function as playmates with common hobbies or interests. During adolescence, friendships tend to deepen as we connect with people whom we feel comfortable telling our thoughts and secrets. When we become adults, friendships become even more sacred. A friendship is a mutual relationship of trust, affection, and support between two people becomes increasingly important for our health and happiness. While some friendships come and go leaving behind no ill feelings, others are harder to move forward from.
So how do we heal and move on after a friendship breakup?:
Validate Your Feelings
Naturally, the end of a friendship provokes a whirlwind of emotions like confusion, anger, and sadness. Before you can move on after a friendship ends, you need time to process the situation. Like romantic breakups, friendship breakups can be messy. You might be wondering where everything went wrong and what you could have done to change things. Sorting out your emotions is the first step to healing. Also, remember that it’s okay to grieve the loss of a friendship. While it might seem silly to mourn the loss of a friend, grieving is often an effective way to move past a difficult breakup.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
It’s easy to blame others for a failed friendship. Maybe you feel that your ex-friend didn’t communicate well enough or was not fully honest with you. No matter how things went down, avoid playing the blame game. Look at the situation from an objective third party and see how each side may have played a part in the friendship’s demise. Maintaining anger, blame, or resentment can make you feel trapped in a failed relationship and prevent you from moving on.
Take Time for Yourself
After a friendship ends, some people set out to find a new friend right away. While building new friendships is healthy for your well-being, don’t be in a hurry to make new friends. Instead, spend a little “me” time getting to know yourself and what you really want in a friend. You may also want to focus on your personal needs before focusing on someone else’s. Maybe you’ve put your goals on the backburner, such as losing 20 lbs. or working towards being debt free. Take this time to plan and work towards your goals so that you can later enter a new friendship feeling happy and confident.
Write a Goodbye Letter
Sometimes writing down your feelings is easier than saying them out loud. Sit down in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Write a goodbye letter to your friend, saying all the things you didn’t get to say in person. Express how you feel about the friendship ending and the problems along the way that led to the ultimate breakup. Don’t worry – you can be completely honest, as your friend will never read the letter. Once you have let it all out on paper, shred or burn the letter. Disposing of the letter should symbolize letting go of the friendship for good.
Don’t Wait for an Apology
If your friendship ended because the person treated you bad, was dishonest, or betrayed you in some way, you may feel that you are owed an apology. While this may be true, don’t wait around for an “I’m sorry,” as it likely won’t come. Waiting for an admission of fault only delays the end of the friendship, leaving you to stew in your bitterness in the meantime. If the apology never comes, you’ll likely be more hurt than you were before. Be the bigger person and move on from the situation – apology or no apology.
Find Support Elsewhere
The end of a friendship can leave you feeling down or even depressed. Don’t go through it alone. Find support and understanding from other sources. Reach out to family members or other friends who will help remind you what being a true friend is all about. If you don’t have anyone close to you to turn to, seek help from a life coach or therapist. These trained professionals have experience dealing with friendship breakups and can usually help you to heal and move on.
Cut All Communication
Keeping someone in your life that clearly does not want to be there only prolongs the hurt. After a friendship has ended, do your best to cut that person from your life. While there’s no need to be rude or disrespectful if you cross paths, you do not need to go out of your way to say hello or chit-chat. Remember that keeping a line of communication open will likely only lead to more pain, especially if you or your friend decides to lash out. Delete the person from your phone and social media accounts, essentially eliminating them from your life.
Know That You’re Better Off
While losing a good friend hurts, consider the possibility that you’re better off. While some friendships end due to distance or lack of common interests as you grow older, others may end due to dishonesty or negativity. If it’s the latter, you’re usually better off without that person in your life. Consider how the relationship has impacted your life thus far and how separating yourself from the negativity will benefit you in the long run. Not everyone gets along with certain personalities and that’s okay. It’s important to face that it’s not going to work out and move on.
Reflect On What You’ve Learned
Instead of looking at the lost friendship as a negative thing in your life, consider it a learning experience. Reflect on what you have learned from the friendship ending and what you can do differently in the future to avoid similar problems. Use the situation to grow and become a better person and friend.
The end of a friendship can be confusing and painful. Fortunately, there are ways to move on from a failed friendship without carrying the hurt and pain with you. If needed, take some time to grieve the end of the relationship, but also celebrate new beginnings. Coping with the loss of a good friend can be a challenge, but the experience will ultimately make you stronger.