As we grow and change and as our lives progress, friends come and go. Romantic breakups are talked about everywhere — but why does no one talk about friendship breakups? It can feel silly to be torn up over losing friends, but it is completely normal to feel upset over it because friendships are JUST as important as romantic relationships. I recently went through a “friend breakup” that was really hard for me, and dealing with the loss has been more of a process than I imagined it would be. Here are 5 steps that have helped me.
1. Let yourself feel what you need to
The amount of tears I have lost over this friendship is ridiculous and I’m not exaggerating when I say I made several breakup playlists. What struck me the most was how much it felt like I was going through a romantic breakup — because that was the only other time I have felt this torn up about losing someone. Don’t make yourself feel bad about how deeply you feel the loss, and don’t try to push your feelings away because they’ll just bubble up later.
2. Be realistic about what happened
It can be so easy to make your lost friend a villain in your head, and even if they did really hurt you, what did you do? Take in your personal blame for what happened and be realistic about everything you said and did and how it could have added to the problem. No one is ever blameless and there are always two sides to the story. This doesn’t mean you can’t be angry at them for what they did, but know that you probably aren’t blameless.
3. Don’t erase everything
There’s an instinct we have that makes us want to erase everything so we never have to be reminded of our pain, but I’m telling you right now that it won’t help. The friend I lost had been by my side for 7 years and if I deleted every single picture of us, I would be deleting a lot of my own big memories. From high school prom to numerous birthday parties, my memories shouldn’t be thrown out just because she is in them. Deleting the picture doesn’t delete the past and your mind will still remember everything, whether you have photographic evidence or not.
4. Take care of yourself
Don’t let revenge take over your life. I don’t know if it’s just me but when someone decides to walk away from me, the Scorpio in me comes out and I want to make them regret it. This means overposting on social media about all of the fun I’m having and stalking theirs 24/7 to see all the fun they’re having without me. To truly take care of myself, I had to unfollow her on social media because I was hurting myself and developing unhealthy habits. I realize that this was another step in the bridge breaking, but I had to do what was right for me, and seeing her Instagram stories of her wedding dress shopping without me was tearing me up. Even if something seems selfish or immature, take care of yourself, hit unfollow, delete their number, change their contact name.
5. Accept your loss and recover
Here we are with the final stage of any loss: acceptance. For a long time, aka several months, I was in denial. I thought that somehow after everything we would still make up and go back to being friends. But when someone has made up their mind, there usually isn’t much that can change it. You’re going to have to start accepting your life without them. You’ll have so many other friends on your life’s journey, so don’t feel like they were your end-all-be-all. Look back and be happy about all of the time you were able to spend together, don’t get hung up on the goodbye. It doesn’t matter what stage of your life you are in — some friendships end, and others begin.
How do you deal with friendship breakups? Leave your advice in the comments below!
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