Losing a long-standing friendship can be devastating. To some, it might be harder to navigate than the ending of a romantic relationship. No matter, if it’s the slow drifting of childhood friends, or a sudden rift caused by an unexpected disagreement, suffering the loss of a supposed BFF is a genuinely sad and profoundly jarring experience. One that requires the proper healing time. But how exactly does one heal after a friendship breakup?
In terms of the stereotypical breakup, there is plenty of media depicting the pain of breaking up with a romantic partner, whether that be tear-jerking romcoms, angsty songs about love and loss, or the cliché breakup scene in our favorite tv shows. But we’re not exactly well-equipped when it comes to dealing with more platonic breakups. This is partly due to how we prioritize friendships (as something mostly secondary to our love/work life and familial relationships) and how little we understand the term “friendship” itself.
Sometimes friendships just end, and that’s okay!
Those of us who date, are quite aware that most of the relationships we enter will not work out in the long run. However, it seems we don’t carry this expectation into our friendships. Breakups are considered a normal occurrence in the realm of romance since dating itself is a way of finding “the one”. But with friends, such heartbreak isn’t expected since we tend to assume we’ve made a real connection from the get-go. But rather than interpret the dissolution of a friendship as some sort of personal failing, it’ll be far more constructive to keep in mind that sometimes certain friendships just aren’t meant to be.
#1 Allow yourself to grieve the loss
Acknowledging the fallibility of friendship is a must since it helps us gain a bit of perspective on the situation itself. But outside of that realization, giving ourselves the much-needed time and space to properly grieve our loss (as we would during the stereotypical breakup), is the best place to start. To truly move on from something you first need to make peace with it and work through whatever complicated emotions you might have as a direct result of that situation.
#2 Get closure, if possible
The blurry nature of starting and ending friendships will no doubt make it difficult to talk about, as it is hard to even say what or when is the end of a friendship. But depending on how the friendship ended, it may prove crucial to seek out clarity from your friend. Why did it get to this point? What exactly happened here? How could I have handled it better? Having the answer to such questions will propel you forward in the healing process. Whether your former friend attempts to work with you in your search for closure isn’t important, as we’re not working towards re-establishing the friendship, but rather ensuring that you get to say your final piece as you’re going into that loss. Sometimes closure is just knowing when to let the past be the past.
#3 Spend some time getting to know yourself
Another similarity between romantic and platonic breakups is the following need to get reacquainted with yourself, your needs, and your boundaries. You’ll need to understand yourself and your feelings to know what would better help you move on. So, make sure to create the space necessary for you to diagnose just how big of an impact this breakup has had not just on your day-to-day life but your mental health as well. This will help you figure out what exactly you’ll need to get better whether that’s a complete overhaul of all your friendships, added alone time, or a good talk with someone you trust.
#4 Put yourself back out there when you’re ready!
The loss of a good friend may feel like an earth-shattering event but shouldn’t make you feel undeserving of new and better relationships in the future. Putting yourself back out there isn’t exactly easy, especially if you’re in your mid-to-late 20’s, but isn’t impossible either. Don’t shy away from the opportunities that’ll give you an added sense of belonging and remind yourself that no matter what happened in the past, you still deserve friendship.
It hurts, but time heals all wounds!
Friendship breakups will feel crushingly sudden to most but they’re simply an inevitable and painfully natural part of life. Reminding ourselves of this and cutting ourselves some slack during our grieving process is instrumental in how we’ll overcome this prolonged heartbreak. The best thing we can do in these situations is to be kind and understanding of ourselves. Grieve the loss, do some soul-searching, and once you’ve put the relationship in the language of past tense, you’ll be better able to not only appreciate the lessons this experience taught you, but you’ll seek out new ones too.