Friend breakups are the worst - here's how to handle them
We're always reading articles about how traumatic breakups are - usually referring to the romantic kind where you either mutually agree to go your separate ways or have a dramatic, tear-filled end to your relationship. But what about another kind of breakup that feels equally heart-rending - the friend breakup? We've all been there with that friend who suddenly stopped calling or gradually showed less and less interest in catching up for a coffee. Whether you've recently been dumped by your best friend or are still struggling to fill the hole left in your life by your fitness buddy, we're here to help you learn how to handle a friend breakup!
Reasons for your breakup
Maybe your best friend has stopped confiding in you, or they never call anymore. Or perhaps you've had a huge fight. What went wrong? Here are some of the most common reasons why friendships break up:
Growing apart can happen as you move from one phase of your life into another. Leaving university and getting a job in the real world can drive a wedge between you and your uni drinking buddies. Or a friend may move from one end of the country to the other and lose touch, become involved with a new partner and forget about you or get caught up in their career - it happens!
Many friendships simply slowly and gradually end as the two people involved drift apart. One or the other of you has less time or need for the friendship, or maybe they are busier and have more interests to keep them occupied.
A huge fight could lead to a dramatic friendship breakup. A breach of trust, such as sleeping with your friend's girlfriend or boyfriend, or just repeatedly cancelling plans with them when they need you can erode trust and lead to the end of even the most stable friendships.
Changing communication styles can kill off a friendship, whether you're the friend who is constantly emailing, calling or texting or the aloof one who rarely gets in touch. If your friend prefers some breathing room, constantly bombarding them with texts or calls could lead to them pulling away or even cutting contact with you entirely!
Post-breakup: How to handle things
The end of a friendship can be a really difficult time and losing someone who has been a big part of your life can be equally painful as the breakup of a romantic relationship - if not more so! If you've lost a really close friend, you're going to feel really hurt, and that takes time to get over. Friend breakups are often unacknowledged - whilst you'll probably get lots of sympathy after a romantic breakup, you might be left alone to deal with the loss of a friendship, and you could feel guilty for mourning. These tips will help you handle things and get your mojo back!
- Prioritise you - Put yourself first and make sure you are getting plenty of sleep, eating well and sticking to your usual routine. Wallowing on the sofa and comfort eating junk food won't help anyone. Try to avoid Facebook and social media, as the last thing you want is to become involved in an online argument
- Maintain an active social life - You'll need to surround yourself with other friends and family if you have lost a close friend, and it's important to keep up with your social commitments, so that you don't sit at home feeling increasingly depressed and isolated. Go to the gym, catch up with a friend for coffee or book a holiday!
- Take your time - It's normal to sit around going over things in your head and wondering what went wrong - this is how we grieve the loss of a person in our lives and it's an important part of the healing process. You'll eventually get closure, so don't beat yourself up for over-thinking things
- Try writing a letter - Writing can help to reduce your stress levels and remember that you don't actually have to send the letter! Apologise for the part you played in the breakup of your friendship and write about how you feel.
- Remember the good times - Be optimistic and remember that just because you have lost a friendship, doesn't mean there won't be more opportunities for new friends in your life! The fact your friendship has ended doesn't mean you can't remember all the fun you had with your friend
- Get some support - If you are struggling to come to terms with the friend-shaped hole in your life, talking to other friends and family members can help you get some perspective. If you're feeling really low, seek support from a counsellor or therapist
Resolve to be an awesome friend!
You can use the end of a friendship in a positive way to reassess your life - take a look at your own behaviour and how you treat others and think about the types of people you are compatible with.
- Look for patterns in your relationships - if you're always cancelling plans and your friends are getting fed up, this is something you need to address. Perhaps you're anxious or depressed?
- Seek professional help if you don't know how to change your behaviour - a therapist can help you break a unhealthy cycle of behaviour
- Resolve to be a better friend - realise that the loss of one friend makes room for a new one! Make an effort to meet new people or deepen your friendship with an acquaintance.
Remember that most friendships don't last forever and as you grow older and change, friends will fall by the wayside. Was this the kind of person you really wanted as a friend? If not, think about how you could attract different types of friends - it may mean taking up new hobbies or trying something new. If so, ask yourself what you could do differently in the future to be a better friend and make your friendship last!