As children, the importance of friendship is hammered into us, almost all children-centric media relies on the “power of friendship”. We are taught how to make friends and the social importance of friendship, but for all the lessons on friendships we are taught as children, we are not taught how to effectively deal with the inevitable end of friendships. Though children are given free rein to be emotionally raw about the relationship ending, they are still expected to get over it with little to no guidance. As we get older, film, music and almost all forms of media focus on romance and dealing with the fallout of heartbreak is something you almost can’t escape and while there has been an increasingly more focus on friendship in media, the hurt that comes with the ending over a friendship is almost never dealt with.
Friendship breakups can be just as or even more unexpected and hurtful as romantic breakups because unlike romantic relationships which always have a chance of failure, we don’t like to entertain the option that a friendship will end. However, because of how little importance friendship is given in our society, the pain of friendship breakups often goes overlooked. When a friendship ends you don’t get the same support you would with a romantic breakup and are expected to get over it almost immediately. It is socially acceptable and even encouraged for someone to openly mourn the end of a romantic relationship for months or even years but is seen as juvenile if you have the same energy towards the end of a friendship.
Losing a friend is something that happens to everyone, whether as a result of an argument or just drifting apart naturally. It is something that is almost inevitable but most are underequipped to deal with it. Here are a few tips that will help in moving on from a broken friendship.
Let yourself grieve
When a friendship ends it may be tempting to brush it off and go on acting like everything is okay but it is important to admit to yourself that it’s not. It may feel ridiculous to grieve the end of a friendship but the loss of any significant relationship can be distressing and leave a small void. Holding in and denying your feelings is counterproductive in any form of healing so it’s necessary to admit to yourself how important the relationship was to you and to understand the strong emotions that you are feeling are normal.
Do not let yourself ruminate
It’s easy to find ourselves consumed with what the other person is doing at all times. We can find ourselves becoming obsessive and in our modern society with people posting their every move on social media it’s easy to keep up with an ex-friend. Unfortunately, this behaviour will not help you move on and will only add to the sadness you feel watching them live their life without you seemingly unbothered. While you may not need to completely erase them from your life as though they were never a part of it, if you find yourself compulsively social media stalking an ex-friend it can be helpful to block yourself from seeing their posts for as long as necessary until you can look at it without going into a spiral.
Talk it through
Exposing your vulnerabilities is never easy, especially when it comes to something that is hardly talked about. However, during any time of emotional distress, it’s always helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Whether you decide to speak to a family, your therapist or other friends, having a conversation about how you feel can be liberating and help yourself remember that you are not alone and are surrounded by people who still care about you.
Meet new people
Although the last thing you might want to do when a friendship ends is to go trolling for new friends, socializing with new people can be extremely helpful to help you get out of a rut. Branching out and talking to new people can also be incredibly beneficial if the relationship ended as a result of you both growing as people.
Evaluate why it ended
There are many reasons friendships end, some less dramatic than others. Whether the fault was with one person or both it can be helpful to root out the problem so you can have healthier relationships in the future. If looking back on the relationship you realize that some of the issues that affected the relationship were because of insensitive behaviour that you put up with, then creating and maintaining boundaries in new friendships will be the best cause of action to protect yourself. If it seems to be a recurring issue where your relationships keep ending in the same pattern then talking to someone to help work through these issues will help you in the long run.
You May Not be the Victim
No one wants to be wrong and it’s human nature to convince ourselves that we are in the right. So, when a friendship ends it is common to place all the blame on the other party ignoring the part, we most likely played in the relationship ending. Unless you’ve been trapped in a truly abusive or toxic situation, odds are you weren’t the perfect friend. It can be helpful to accept unhealthy behaviour that we have in order to unlearn them and be better friends in the future.