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10 Tips for Healing From a Broken Friendship

3. Don’t forget to be a good friend to yourself.

Key points

  • Platonic breakups can be just as painful, if not more painful, than romantic breakups.
  • As fewer people marry, the value of friendship increases.
  • You can heal your heart and still be open to new friendships.
Aleshyn Andrei/Shutterstock
Source: Aleshyn Andrei/Shutterstock

Why do friendship break-ups hurt so bad? Platonic breakups can hurt as much as, or even more, than romantic breakups. When everything is going wrong in our lives, a good friend is who we turn to to seek support.

Friends are the people who are going to be there for us when our love lives fall apart, our careers implode, or we just need a hug or a place to vent. Friends are our sounding boards, therapists, coaches, cheerleaders, and truth tellers all in one.

In addition, as the number of people who opt into exclusive, monogamous relationships and marriages decreases, the importance of friendships to our well-being increases. When we make close friends, we deeply invest in that relationship, so when it ends, the feelings of rejection and abandonment are heightened.

When a friendship fails, we may feel that we have failed, too. Even when we’re the one who’s ending a friendship, we still may feel like if we had tried harder, been more flexible or accepting, or something else, we could have made it work. And the tighter the bond you feel you have with a friend, the harder the friendship breakup is going to be.

10 Tips for Healing From a Bestie Break-Up

1. When a friend breaks up with you, remind yourself that it’s okay to grieve. Rejection hurts and it’s normal to feel bereft when a friendship ends. It’s especially painful when you lose the friend you’d usually turn to when you were down. Be kind to yourself, though, and treat yourself the way you’d treat someone who was hurting the way you are right now.

2. If you’ve done something you know was wrong and that’s the cause of the breakup, own up to it rather than trying to convince your friend it didn’t happen or lying about it. When we make a mistake, not acknowledging it to the person we’ve hurt can be even more painful than owning up to it. Think about all the times you’ve said to yourself, “It wasn’t that they did it, it was that they didn’t tell me that they’d done it.” Honesty matters.

3. Don’t forget the importance of being a good friend to yourself and treating yourself the way you'd want your friends to treat you. But also, check in with yourself and ask if you’re the kind of friend you’d want to have yourself. If you’ve been hard to connect with, or a “half-in/half-out” kind of friend, or someone who hasn’t been there when you were needed, use the breakup as a way to do some self-evaluation. Maybe your BFF broke up with you not for the things you did, but for the things you didn’t.

4. Accept that some friendships just can’t flex enough to handle the changes you or your friend are experiencing. Not every friendship is going to be a lifelong bond, so don’t try to blame yourself or your friend for the breakup. Focus on supporting or establishing friendships that reflect who you’re becoming—not who you used to be a year or decade ago.

5. Sometimes people do need a little space to clear their heads. If a friend seems to be quietly exiting the friendship, you can check in and let them know you’ve noticed a change in their interest in getting together. If the friend says they need space, or life is just too busy for them to manage the friendship, believe them. Step back and give them space. You can check back in after a month or two but don’t bombard them with texts or calls.

6. Remind yourself that new friends are all around you for the making. Always be willing to make the first move. A smile and a warm hello are the building blocks of new friendships.

7. Losing a friend who’s a part of your everyday routine, like a workmate, a neighbor, or an exercise buddy, can be especially hard because you might not be able to completely avoid them. That’s part of being an adult—having to do things you might not like and get along with people who you might not like or who might not like you. Just suck it up and be on your best behavior when circumstances bring you together. Focusing on the future and not dwelling on the past is a much better use of your time.

8. Don’t dwell on what happened and don’t sink to the level of your ex-friend if they did you wrong. Some people want to “get even” with someone who has hurt their feelings, but there’s little lasting or meaningful reward in showing the worst side of yourself to others. If you’ve been hurt, tell yourself it’s better that it happened sooner rather than later; now you can focus on making space for new and better friends in your life.

9. One way to move on from a friendship breakup is to create a "lessons learned gratitude list" for your ex-friend. I ask them to respond to the following four prompts:

  • I am grateful for this friendship because I learned that I enjoy__
  • I am grateful for the experience of this friendship because I learned that I do not enjoy__
  • I am grateful for this relationship because it taught me about these boundaries__
  • I am grateful for this relationship because it taught me that I deserve these behaviors from true friends__

These prompts help us focus on the bigger picture and recognize that even disappointing friendships can provide opportunities for self-growth and greater self-awareness.

10. Unfortunately, our social support networks are basically “baked into” our social media platforms. You may want to block or unfollow the ex-friend to move towards a clean break. But if you and your friend were part of a larger social group, you are still likely to see photos or read posts about them in the feeds of mutual friends. You can choose to go on a social media hiatus if you feel that would help you let go of lingering feelings of anger, resentment, hurt, or regret—if you truly want to avoid any images or mentions of the ex-friend.

Facebook image: Anton Romanov/Shutterstock

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