Friendship Breakups and How to Cope With It in a Healthy Way

Two friends drinking soda on the street and laughing

Is a friendship breakup a thing? Oh, yes, a big one! A friendship breakup hurts. It can be harder than ending a romantic relationship. There is a lot out there about dealing with romantic breakups, but breaking up with a friend can cause grief and heartbreak, too. Even though they are not as discussed as breakups with a romantic partner, they can be more traumatic.

It can be difficult because friendships play a role in your overall mental and emotional health. Your close friend isn`t just your safety blanket, a shoulder to lean on, or someone who has got you through tough times; it is someone you trust, share a bond with, talk and laugh easily with, and enjoy being around. Someone who picks up where you left off.

Sometimes, a friendship breakup can feel like you have lost a part of yourself. But, believe me, it`s even harder if you stay in a friendship where you are no longer happy, pleased, and safe. So, here is everything you should know about breaking up with friends and dealing with grief.

Reasons to Break Up a Friendship

Despite our expectations, some friendships do not always last forever. People grow and change. Sometimes these changes can lead to a friendship breakup. If your relationship has more of a negative than positive impact or may no longer serve your health and wellness, you should consider ending it. There are plenty of other reasons why friendships end. Some of them could be:

1. It may feel one-sided.

A well-balanced relationship is crucial for a healthy friendship. It`s essential to acknowledge the signs of a one-sided friendship to avoid wasting energy and time on a relationship that is not reciprocally beneficial. A one-sided friendship is a relationship where one side puts in all the effort while the other side contributes very little.

It is common among work besties. This kind of friendship is emotionally draining and usually has negative effects on mental and emotional wellbeing. It can be difficult to establish healthy boundaries in a one-sided friendship. It may lead to codependency and toxic relationships. In healthy relations, both parties` needs and expectations should be met.

If your friends do not value your time and efforts, just take but not give, disrespect boundaries, do not support your endeavors, or do not show interest in your life, be sure it’s time to reconsider if this relationship is right for you.

2. It may cause negative emotions or make you upset.

A friendship should be based on mutual appreciation on both sides. If someone is disparaging, abusing, offending, or criticizing you persistently, you should raise your voice. Otherwise, this behavior will create a negative and unhealthy dynamic in the friendship. When your friends constantly find fault in your appearance, choices, or behavior, that means one thing: they are not treating you with respect and kindness.

Being constantly criticized and judged will affect your self-esteem and confidence. You should try to clear the air with your friends, address issues, and express your concerns and feelings. If they are not ready to make changes, you should be ready to determine if that friendship is healthy and worthwhile.

two girl friends hugging

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

3. It may have a negative effect on your life.

Friendships should not put you in danger or make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe. If someone consistently ignores your boundaries or pressures you to do something dangerous, it may not be a very healthy relationship. You should always define what is and isn`t acceptable behavior, express your expectations and needs, set limits on your time and energy, and communicate all these clearly to the other person. Always avoid dangerous situations. In case you feel that the other person may hurt you, seek all available support.

4. You may no longer have things in common.

People usually grow in different directions – you may go to a different university, work somewhere else, or just start having different views that do not match anymore. I am sure you will know when it’s time to part ways. One day you may outgrow old friendships that do not boost you on your new path.

It’s a completely natural and normal experience. Do not let old friendships hold you back from reaching your potential. And never waste your effort just for old times` sake. Maintaining friendship in different life stages will change as your overall course of life, your interests, and your viewpoints change.

It’s hard to do when reminiscing on the “good old days” becomes your only shared regard.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having people from high school who still live in the same place, work at the same job, or have a bond that is rooted in old memories, but if you have found a deeper and different meaning in life, or moved away, started a new career, you simply may not have enough in common. And, that is OK. Always cherish the memories and remember the good times.

Why Ending a Friendship Can Be Worse Than a Breakup?

Friendships, especially adult ones, are essential and can divine well-being better than other relationships, even familial ones. Good friends are good for your health and well-being, mainly mental and emotional. They will always celebrate good things and give support during bad times. Close friends prevent loneliness, increase your sense of belonging, and boost your happiness.

Strong social connections can help you improve your self-confidence and self-worth, cope with trauma, and make your life more enjoyable, easier, and funnier. According to some studies, people who have healthy, meaningful friendships and social support live longer than their peers with fewer relationships.

Good friends care about you. They challenge you to be your best, help you establish and maintain goals, give you emotional support, build your confidence, and help you beat stress. Despite many romantic relationships, you are not dealing with jealousy, pretending you are much better than you truly are, always trying to impress and please someone, or sacrificing your own goals in order to help your partner achieve his goals.

Breaking up with your best friend can hurt like hell. Loosing close friends comes with the loss of an emotional support system, inside jokes, shared joys and sadness. No matter the cause of loss, it’s absolutely normal to grieve. But, outsiders usually cannot comprehend the depth of emotions involved in a friendship, so friendship breakups are usually trivialized.

Romantic breakups usually come with a long period of emotional disorder, mess, and external support, but a friendship breakup is often swept under the carpet. When you end a romantic relationship, everyone surrounds you with support. The same isn’t true with friendship endings, especially with female friendship breakups. Unfortunately, there is a stereotype that breakups among women are catfights.

Signs You Should Call a Friendship Quits

Here are some indicators to end a friendship:

  • Spending time together feels draining
  • You disagree about core values
  • You are anxious about your friends
  • You are the only who extend an olive branch
  • Your friends regularly cancel plans
  • Wrong or dangerous behavior
  • Your friends do not keep your secret
  • They gossip and talk behind your back
  • They overstep your boundaries
  • They make fun of you
  • They lie to you
  • They make you feel bad about yourself

Friends should be reliable, trustworthy, and supportive. They should respect your boundaries and boost your self-esteem. In a healthy relationship, you should openly discuss any problems that arise and enjoy each other’s company.

If you feel unsupported, misunderstood, or demeaned, you should try to work on your relationship and change the dynamic. Discuss what went wrong and seek answers as to why your relationship drifted.

You can decrease the time you spend together and leave some space to think. If your well-being is still threatened, emotionally or psychologically, don’t waste any time and energy; simply shut the door to your friendship. Put yourself first.

friends laying on bed laughing

Photo by Katarzyna Grabowska on Unsplash

How Do You Move On After a Friendship Breakup?

It’s always difficult when friendships end. No matter who decides to end it, it`s a tough deal. Whether it`s the slow drifting apart from a friend or it has ended out of the blue, it`s equally hurtful. You need to learn how to deal with friendship breakups, as they will happen over the course of your life.

The grieving process is unique and different from person to person, it may trigger a wide range of emotions. There is no right or wrong way to handle it and there is no set time frame. Just be patient with yourself and follow the steps to help yourself heal.

1. Acknowledge your pain

Acknowledging the pain you are in is an essential step during the healing process. It`s crucial to understand what and why you feel the way you do. Once you do that, you can start to work through it. It can be hard, as you will face some difficult moments from your past. You lost intimacy and connection with someone with whom you used to share everything and spend a lot of time. And now, when it`s all gone, please do not pretend is nothing. It hurts.  Your grief is natural and normal. The pain you feel is as valid as any other. If you cannot deal with it, you may seek external support.

2. Practice self-care

Always go about your regular routine. It may be the last thing you want to do, but your daily activities that bring you joy and satisfaction will help you recover from the pain. Chill at your favorite place, do some sport, get a massage or your nails done, read, practise art, or start a new hobby. Try a relaxing activity, like meditation or breathing exercises; eat healthy; and make sleep a priority. Always remind yourself of the things you are grateful for and focus on positivity. Do what you enjoy.

3. Avoid rumination

Do not analyze problems repetitively, and stop looking at things that remind you of your lost friendship. This will make moving on harder. Focus on the present. You can box up gifts and photo albums. You can delete old texts and pictures if they bring you only sadness. But, personally, it`s better to process the emotion than pretend the relationship never happened. Clear your mind first.

4. Exercise

You can join a gym, practice yoga, or start running. It will have positive effects and benefits for your overall well-being. Walk in nature or dance at home. In order to prevent depression and anxiety, start doing it as soon as possible.

5. Share your feelings with someone

You can talk with someone you trust to help you stop overthinking and speed up your healing process. Talking with a family member or other close friend can help you process your emotions and the things that happened. You may not be comfortable enough to talk with someone close to you, or there may be no one who can listen to you and give you advice. In that case, you can consider talking with a therapist. This will help you find ways to move forward.

6. Keep a diary or journal

Writing about your feelings can help you release the pain and confusion related to them. Record your daily activities and events, express your feelings, thoughts, and observations with zero limitations. This will help you understand yourself better.

7. Take a social media break

Try to take a break from using social media for a while. It will probably be hard, but you will have more time for activities you enjoy. Focus on self-care or your interests and hobbies. Spend time with your loved ones. Taking a break from the online world can help you reduce mental stress and anxiety. If you are not ready to do that, you can temporarily mute your friends` profiles. The last thing you need is to see new posts on their page, or worse, compare them with your life. Avoid stressful and painful situations.

8. Form new habits and make new memories

Unhealthy friendships can cause a narrowing of the personality. They can hold you back and harm your self-esteem. Instead of continuously thinking about old days and things you did together, you should work to build new experiences and memories. Set new goals, learn a new skill, or participate in a new activity. Everything must be new. You can make cookies and invite your neighbor over for a cup of coffee. Ask someone to go to the cinema, an art gallery, or a museum with you. Discover new places. Go on a short journey. Stay busy and invest in new relationships.

9. Validate your emotions

Knowing that someone to whom you were once so close no longer values you as a friend can be hurtful. Feelings of rejection and non-acceptance directly affect self-perception by producing feelings of sadness, loneliness, hurt, shame, embarrassment, anger, and social anxiety.

It’s normal and acceptable to experience these emotions when you suffer a romantic breakup. Your social circle may not have the same understanding of a friendship breakup. No matter what, it`s crucial to validate all your emotions. Do things and surround yourself with people who boost and build up your self-worth and self-confidence, and learn how to love yourself.

10 Forgive

Forgiveness protects your emotional and mental health. It’s a big step forward towards healing and moving on. It takes time; be patient. Losing a friendship isn`t just losing your past habits, you will also lose the possibility of the future. You won’t have a chance to share new life events any more, and it can be very painful.

Learn how to forgive as new pain surfaces. Make forgiveness your lifestyle, not a one-off event.

Final Thoughts

It’s not easy to deal with a friendship breakup. It can be painful, upsetting, and distressing. Learning to deal with the loss of friendship is the first step towards healing. But healing takes time. It’s a process. Always go slow, and never push yourself to move on before you are ready. Be gentle with yourself.

Let your brain breathe, put away memories, and get used to a new normal. If you need it, seek support and advice from people you trust. Never isolate yourself.

Look around you – there are a lot of opportunities to make new friends. But, watch out for toxic people and always set clear, healthy boundaries.

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