Relationship: How to survive a best friend breakup

Coping with a friendship fallout

Whether they have moved away, you have grown apart or you have had a major bust up, losing a friend can be as difficult as losing a boyfriend or girlfriend, especially if it is a really close friendship that has lasted for many years. Here are some tips for surviving a best friend breakup.

Friendship fallout survival tip 1: Don’t blame yourself

If your friend has moved away, become increasingly busy or for some other reason fallen off the radar, it is easy to feel as though you have failed in some way by being unable to retain your close friendship. Many women buy into the media stereotype of what a female friendship should be like and believe that their friendships are supposed to last forever, however this is often not the case. Just as it’s important not to expect romantic relationships to live up to what we see in movies, it is also important to realise that the friendships we see on TV are often not realistic.

It can be easy to throw accusations at yourself that you are “not a good enough friend”, “easily forgotten” or “not worth making time for” but this is not true. Friendship ‘breakups’ are something that lots of people go through at some point in their lives and they are not a reflection on you or your value as a friend.

Friendship fallout survival tip 2: Ditch the green-eyed monster

Jealousy can be a major cause of conflict between friends – particularly for those just starting out in their careers and relationships. If you have spent a lifetime moving at the same pace as your friend; starting school together, celebrating exam results/new jobs/promotions together, analysing relationships and commiserating breakups together, it can be bewildering and upsetting when your friend suddenly ups the ante and trumps your latest first date story with the announcement of her engagement or impromptu move abroad.

However, while it can be difficult to get your head around the shifting gap between your lifestyle and that of your friend, it is important not to resent your friend for their opportunities. Just because you have both moved at the same pace up until this moment, it doesn’t mean you should be now; you will no doubt have your own equally exciting opportunities ahead. Let your friend know that you are happy for them and proud of them, and do your best to feel it too!

Friendship fallout survival tip 3: Try to reconcile with your friend

Whether you have had a disagreement or things just haven’t felt right with your friend for a while, if you think that your friendship is worth holding on to, it is important that you talk things through and try to pinpoint and solve any problems. If you are still feeling angry, take some time to simmer down and then schedule a time to clear the air and talk through any issues with your friend.

It is important not to point the finger and blame your friend for everything – try to use sentences such as “I feel this way” rather than “you make me feel this way”. Talk calmly and openly and discuss how you can work through your problems. If you haven’t actually had a disagreement but have just drifted apart, keep the conversation light and friendly and just let your friend know that you miss seeing them and would really like it if you could make a bit of time for each other. It may be that hearing how you feel will prompt your friend to make a bit more of an effort. 

Friendship fallout survival tip 4: Try to accommodate changes in your friendship

If you are experiencing difficulties in your friendship, remember that it doesn’t mean you have to end the friendship entirely; it could just be that you need to take a step back from it for a while or relegate the friendship to more of a casual acquaintance. This is particularly true if your friendship has changed due to circumstances such as marriage, parenthood or a change in location.

Everyone’s lives and friendships go through different stages, especially in their twenties and thirties when so much in life is up in the air, and while yours and your friend’s lifestyles may not be compatible at this moment in time, it does not mean that they never will be again. Equally, just because you may not be best friends any more that doesn’t mean your friendship has to end completely. Give each other space and focus on nurturing other friendships, and remember that although your friendship has changed, it can still be adapted and shaped into something new.

Friendship fallout survival tip 5: Realise when it is time to let go

Often as our lives change and we drift off in various directions, our best and strongest friendships can really be put to the test. In some case previously close friends will simply grow apart. If your friend’s life is changing and you feel they are pulling away from you, you may need to give them a bit of time as they get used to their new situation and assess whether this is just a temporary thing.

However, it is important to remember that a friendship is a two way thing, and if you repeatedly feel that you are the only one making the effort, it may be time to re-evaluate the friendship and consider whether it is something you should let go of, at least for now. While it is important to try not to harbour negative feelings towards your friend, if your friend no longer makes you feel happy, valued or good about yourself, then you may have lost the essence of what a good friendship should be about.

Friendship fallout survival tip 6: Get a new support system

Losing a good friend will inevitably leave a big hole in your life, particularly if you spent a lot of time together or confided in that friend a lot. To help ease the sadness over the end of this friendship, try to spend time with other friends you may not have been as close to before and enjoy building friendships with new people.

If you have limited access to potential new friends, try to widen your social circle at every opportunity you can. Invite work colleagues out for drinks, get in touch with people you haven’t seen for a while or consider taking on a voluntary role. You won’t meet new friends sat in front of the TV every night, so try to fill your evenings as much as you can by joining a gym, taking up a hobby or starting an evening class. The more people you meet the more fun you will have and the stronger your chance of finding your next BFF.

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