Dealing With a Friendship Breakup
There’s a lot out there about breaking up with a romantic partner, but what if a friendship isn’t working out anymore? You may decide a friendship needs to end for different reasons: it may no longer be serving your health and wellness, it may be having more of a negative than positive impact, you may feel like you both are constantly arguing, or you may not feel like you are the same person you were before. Friendship breakups can sometimes feel worse than romantic ones, and it might be hard thinking about why a friendship might end. Navigating separations in any relationship is difficult – read on for our tips on how to handle friendship breakups.
It’s normal for people to drift apart, but losing a close friend can feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself. You may feel like you lost someone who you had amazing memories with, someone who was your safety blanket or may have got you through tough times. But we want to remind you that it’s normal for people to grow and change. Sometimes these changes will lead to a friendship needing to end, but there are ways to make the situation easier to process and handle. We have a few suggestions to keep in mind during a friendship breakup.
Why would a friendship breakup in the first place?
There are different reasons why you or someone else might want to end a friendship. Some of those reasons could be:
It might feel one-sided.
A friendship should feel balanced. If a friendship feels one-sided, it might be worth having a conversation about how your friend can support you, and perhaps you can set some boundaries together so you both can feel heard and respected. If you don’t feel like you are receiving the time, energy, or effort that you need from a friend, especially if you’ve communicated what you need already, then you might want to start rethinking if the friendship is right for you.
Sometimes a friendship may feel out of balance for a time if you or your friend are struggling with your mental health. Consider what might be going on for your friend if they are usually supportive but feel distant. Check out tips for how to support a friend going through a tough time.
The friendship may be causing drama or making you upset.
A friendship is about mutual appreciation for both people. If someone is belittling, insulting, or criticizing you constantly, they might not really be a friend. If this is the case and you want to talk to someone about it, Foundry Peer Support workers can help you work through the situation.
The friendship may have a negative effect on your life.
If you feel pressured by a friend to do something dangerous, or they consistently ignore your boundaries, this might not be a very healthy relationship. Friendships should not put you or others in danger, or make you feel uncomfortable. If you feel that you are in a dangerous situation, and that the other person might hurt you if you try to leave the friendship or set boundaries, there are supports available.
You may no longer have things in common.
As time passes, people will often grow in different directions – you might go to a different school, work somewhere else, or you two may have different views that don’t match up anymore. If it’s time to part ways, remember the good times that you had together, and cherish the memories. Just because you no longer talk doesn’t mean that you have to think differently about the past!
What do I do if I want to break up with a friend?
Before you end anything, here are a few things to consider that may help you navigate a friendship breakup:
- Decide if that’s really what you want to do. It’s important to give yourself time to work out what you’re feeling. Consider talking to your friend about your friendship and how you both can improve the relationship moving forward. Setting boundaries is a great place to start. You could also try taking a break or putting some distance between yourselves as a way to clear your head and figure out what you want.
- Be direct and honest about the friendship ending. Let them know what you were hoping for in the friendship, and how you’ve been feeling without placing blame. Acknowledge that you value the memories you have together and appreciate them as a person. Communicate directly if you do not want to continue a friendship with them. Don’t hint at it, and don’t provide false hope by talking about things that could be made right if the relationship is beyond fixing. If you do want to try to fix things, be clear about your boundaries, and what next steps would look like if you both don’t feel the relationship is improving.
- Follow through and limit communication. After your conversation, try to give each other some space and limit communication. This helps manage expectations and doesn’t create false hope for you both on rekindling the friendship. It’s normal that this may feel hard and unnatural, and you both might struggle not to reach out to each other for a while.
Give yourself some space
While it might be super tempting to say something negative publicly like in a TikTok or Instagram about your feelings – you might regret it later on. Taking a step back to work out how you feel and giving yourself space can do a whole lot of good.
There are a few things that you can do to create some space between you and a former friend:
- Take some time off social media, especially if you might still be connected with them online. It can hurt when you see a former friend interact with your posts or posting without you in their life now. If you are not friends offline, it’s only natural to reflect that online too. Try muting notifications after a friendship break up to give yourselves some space. If you find after a while that it’s not enough and you need more space, you can unfriend your former friend on social media platforms where you’re connected.
- Put away consistent reminders of your friendship. Give your mind the chance to get used to that person not being around anymore. Putting away memories does not change the time that you had together, it’s simply letting your brain breathe and get used to a new normal.
- Keep yourself busy. Engage in hobbies that you might not have had time for before, or try something new. You can also try to find new ways to prioritize yourself: maybe try a new creative activity, pick up an interesting book from the library, or try a new exercise routine.
- Reach out to others in your life. Although one friendship may not be working well, that doesn’t discount the other friends that can be there for you. You can talk about what happened and hopefully your support system can help you feel a bit better. If you don’t feel comfortable with talking to anyone, you can always reach out to Foundry’s Peer Support for a good place to vent.
- Don’t take this personally. Sometimes, people need to grow and that can mean leaving a part of themselves, including friendships, in the past. As you grow, life can move in different directions and your values may no longer align. It does not make them or you a bad person, you both may just be becoming different people.
And through it all, be kind to yourself and take it slow.
It’s hard whenever anything ends, but it’s even harder if you stay in a friendship that you are no longer happy in. Breaking up with a friend can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Remember that it’s a chance for you (and your friend) to grow in a positive direction. Take your time and go slow.
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