Tips for Coping with Ending a Friendship
Updated: Aug 15
We all understand breaking up with a romantic partner, but sometimes we break-up with platonic friends, too. Friendships end, it’s a fact of life. Even the closest friendships end, and they often end in the most heartbreaking ways. It’s unfortunate. For lack of a better word - it sucks. The shared history and deep bond you once shared is hard to let go of, especially if there was no physical death. This friend is still walking around living, breathing, and forming bonds with other people!
It doesn’t feel right, it feels completely unfair, but it IS something you can not only recover from, but also learn from.
Loss of a Friendship
The loss of a friendship hurts. Depending on the reasons behind the friendship ending, as well as what the friendship meant to you, the end of a friendship can be crippling. However, ignoring how deeply it affects you, won’t make it hurt any less. It can actually cause even more pain and suffering.
The loss needs to be grieved. Throw out the misconception that one only grieves when death is involved. It isn’t the case at all. You’ve suffered a loss. A big, confusing, and upsetting loss.
What’s Next After Losing a Friendship
Right after the end of a friendship, there’s usually a lot of hurt, anger, and a feeling of abandonment. Our knee-jerk reaction is to push all that down into the depths of our soul, and try to make ourselves feel better by saying ‘oh well, no skin off my nose, it’s their loss’.
This helps no one. You’ll never heal from the loss. You’ll never learn from the loss. And, you’ll never grow from the loss. The friendship is over, and the healing process must start so you don’t hold onto the pain and anger.
Best Tips for Coping with a Friendship Ending
Take a step back, and shed any blame you’re feeling as well as the desire to blame the other party. We all know the adage ‘it takes two to tango’. Even if you think you’re not at fault in any way, you played a part in the demise of the friendship. Find a way to accept it’s over because both parties had a hand in it. Then, you can really start processing what happened.
We all want to get over things as fast as possible, so we don’t have to feel it. You really have to learn to lean into the feelings. Feel them deeply. The best way to do this is to write it down. Work through the pain with your writing. All of this pain guides you to where you need the most healing. So trust it. Feel it. Don’t be afraid of it. Trust that you’re not always going to feel so much turmoil and betrayal.
Write a Farewell Note
This is strictly for your own personal healing process. The note isn’t meant to be handed over to your former friend. It can be a great way to get all your feelings about the person, the situation, the friendship, and the loss, written down and out of your head.
You can stop replaying conversations you want to have, in your head. Put it all into the letter, and release it from your subconscious. Put it in your journal if you like, or write it on loose paper, then put it in an envelope, and go through the motions of sending a letter. It can be a therapeutic experience.
Do the Things You Need To Do to Move On
Once you’ve worked through the pain, anger, and loss - make a plan to move on.
Perhaps you have a trusted person you can talk things over with a bit more.
Maybe there’s a need to remove pictures, trinkets, gifts you received from this former friend, so they don’t trigger you. You don’t have to throw them away, but remove them from your daily life. You can always toss them at a later date.
Block them on social media if you need to.
Find new restaurants and places to frequent, and make new memories.
Adjust How You Talk to Yourself
When you hear yourself being negative and angry, spin it around and find a way to find gratitude in the situation. Yes, the friendship has ended, but we really were there for each other when our energies needed it. Now we’re different people and need different things. It doesn’t mean our friendship was bogus, it just means it ran its course, and now it's time to match energies with new friends.
Focus on Healthy Relationships
The unfortunate part of losing a friendship is that we often have groups of friends, and when one person leaves the tribe - or two people within the group end their friendship - groups tend to gravitate towards one friend over the other.
Don’t assume losing the whole group is a bad thing. If the group slowly loses their connection to you, then they weren’t friends meant for you, and your well-being. Turn your focus to the friendships that provide support, and ones that offer a true connection. Sometimes people are only friendly with you because they are closer with another person in the group.
We All Deserve Friendship
After a friendship loss, we will often doubt our self-worth and start to question if the friendship we lost was a true friendship. The voices in our heads will start to tell us they were using us, or they never really cared, etc. Thoughts like this can start to affect our other relationships, and we’ll start questioning if we’re really worth being friends with. As if we don’t deserve quality people in our life that provide solid friendships.
We all deserve friendship. Life often throws us into friendships that serve a purpose, and once that purpose is met, we move forward. It doesn’t mean the friendship wasn’t true and solid, nor does it mean you aren’t worthy of moving on and finding new friendships. People change, grow in different directions, and it’s all absolutely normal!
If you’re struggling with ambiguous grief like the end of a friendship, I’m here to help you work through it and come out stronger on the other side - so you can continue to find new friendships, and know how to grieve them if they end, and then pick-up and find even more new friendships.