As a society, we spend a lot of time talking about romantic breakups. From movies to advice mavens, everybody seems to have something to say about what happens when a romantic relationship is over. But romantic relationships aren’t the only kind of relationship. For many people, friendships are just as important as romantic partnerships– for some people, they’re even more important. And just like a romantic partnership, friendships can end in breakups, too.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to deal with a friendship breakup. We often struggle with our emotions around the end of these relationships, not knowing where to put our feelings or how to deal with the emotional fallout. Today, we’re going to talk about how to handle a friendship breakup and how to move on and cope with the complex feelings that crop up around them.
What Is A Friendship Breakup?
A friendship breakup refers to the ending or deterioration of a close friendship between individuals. Similar to the end of a romantic relationship, a friendship breakup involves the distancing or separation of friends due to various reasons such as conflicts, differences in values, life changes, or personal growth.
It can be a challenging and emotional experience, often involving a sense of loss and hurt feelings. Just like romantic breakups, friendship breakups can be a natural part of life, leading individuals to reassess their social circles and prioritize relationships that align with their well-being and personal development instead of causing negative feelings or friendship anxiety. In fact, a friendship breakup can feel like a romantic breakup in a lot of ways. After all, as Ashley Mateo pointed out, the brain “doesn’t know the difference between a romantic or platonic relationship… There was intimacy and trust, and then there wasn’t.”
Allowing Yourself To Grieve a Friendship Breakup
The first thing you need to do when a friendship breakup happens is realize that your feelings are valid– no matter what they are. Even if you initiated the breakup, it’s likely that you will want to grieve. And that’s ok! Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to grieve the loss of the friendship.
It’s important to understand that it’s entirely normal to experience a range of emotions when a friendship ends. You may feel sadness over the loss, anger about what led to the breakup, confusion about the situation, or even relief if the friendship was causing distress. Allowing yourself to recognize and validate these emotions is the first step towards healing.
Suppressing or denying your feelings may prolong the healing process. It’s essential to create a safe space for yourself to express and process these emotions. Whether it’s through journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking professional help, find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Grieving takes time, and it’s important to be patient with yourself during this period. Healing is a gradual process, and there is no set timeline for when you should feel “over it.” Allow yourself the time needed to navigate through the emotional aftermath of the friendship breakup. If you give yourself the grace, patience, and time that you need, true healing from a friendship breakup can occur.
Tips for Dealing With A Friendship Breakup
While time and patience with yourself and your feelings are the key to surviving a friendship breakup, there are other things you can do to help yourself work through it. Here are some of the best things you can do to help yourself through.
Reflect on the Relationship
Take dedicated time to reflect on the reasons behind the friendship breakup. Consider the dynamics, communication patterns, and any contributing factors that led to the end of the relationship. Reflecting on the relationship can provide clarity about your own needs, boundaries, and expectations. This self-awareness can be empowering, guiding you in making healthier choices in future friendships and helping you grow from the experience.
If necessary, establish clear boundaries to create space for your emotional healing. This may involve limiting contact with your former friend for a defined period to prioritize your well-being and prevent reopening emotional wounds. Setting boundaries is an act of self-care that allows you to focus on your own emotional recovery without the added stress of continued interaction. Clearly communicating and enforcing these boundaries is crucial for creating a supportive environment for your healing process.
Focus on Self-Care
Prioritize self-care both physically and emotionally by engaging in activities that bring joy, relaxation, and a sense of well-being. Exercise, pursue hobbies, or spend quality time with supportive friends who uplift and understand your feelings. Taking care of your physical health, getting adequate rest, and nourishing your body can positively impact your emotional state. Self-care serves as a foundation for resilience, helping you cope with the emotional challenges of a friendship breakup and promoting overall well-being.
Acknowledge and accept that not all friendships are meant to last forever. People evolve, and relationships may outgrow their initial dynamics. Recognizing this reality is a key step in letting go of attachment to the past. Embrace the concept that endings can be a natural part of life, allowing space for new beginnings and personal growth. Acceptance facilitates the emotional closure needed to move forward with a healthier mindset.
Learn from the Experience
View the friendship breakup as an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Reflect on the lessons learned from the relationship—both positive and challenging aspects. Consider how these insights can shape your future interactions and contribute to the development of more fulfilling friendships. Learning from the experience positions you to make informed choices in future relationships and fosters continuous personal development.
While it’s natural to seek answers, try to refrain from placing blame solely on yourself or the other person. Friendships often end due to a combination of factors, and understanding the complexity of the situation can ease the process of acceptance. Avoiding a blame-centric mindset helps in cultivating empathy and forgiveness, allowing you to release negative emotions and move forward with a more open heart.
Engage in New Activities
Explore new activities and social circles to broaden your experiences and meet new people. Engaging in novel pursuits not only serves as a healthy distraction but also provides opportunities for personal growth and connection. Building new connections can be a positive step forward, offering fresh perspectives and a chance to create meaningful relationships. Embracing new activities and social environments contributes to your overall well-being and reinforces the idea that life continues to unfold with opportunities for joy and connection.
Share your feelings with trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide a listening ear and emotional support. Open communication about the friendship breakup can be cathartic, allowing you to express your emotions and gain insights into your own thoughts. Talking to others may offer different perspectives and coping strategies, helping you navigate the complexities of the situation. Knowing that you’re not alone in your experience and having a support system can be instrumental in the healing process.
Professional support can be highly beneficial when dealing with a friendship breakup. If you’re going through a friendship breakup, or thinking about initiating one, don’t hesitate to reach out to the therapists at Love Heal Grow. Our relationship experts are here to help you deal with your emotions and advocate for yourself through this difficult scenario!