Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Simone Saunders BSW, MSW, RSW
How To Cope With a Friend Breakup
Published Jan 25th, 2022 & updated on Jan 28th, 2022
A friend breakup can hurt just as much as a romantic breakup! If you think about it, they’re both close relationships in your life, right? So if you and a friend part ways, the pain can be just as real.
Unlike a romantic breakup, friend breakups aren’t really talked about. There isn’t a cliche about working through ending a friendship while watching best friend movies like Booksmart, but pulling a Jessica Day and sobbing over Dirty Dancing is expected with a romantic breakup. It seems like you’re supposed to shrug it off and move on. But you’re sad, moody, and wondering what happened, just like a romantic relationship. So how do you get through it??
If you’re going through a friend breakup, here’s some ways you can cope.
1. Talk to Someone
You probably aren’t able to talk to that (now former) friend, but talking to another friend, family member, or someone you trust will be a good way to have your feelings validated and to work through the breakup. Basically everyone has had a friendship breakup in their life, and swapping stories will help remind you that you’re not alone and the pain won’t last forever.
But here’s the thing: if you and the person you broke up with are in the same friend group, the friendship breakup can get more complicated. It will be worthwhile to explain to your mutual friends what happened. They’ll also have complicated feelings on the topic, so give them time to work through it.
Friends and family will always have some sort of bias, whether they’re aware of it or not. They know you, they care about you, but they’re not totally objective. This is where a mental health professional might be a good idea! They can help you see the whole thing with an outside perspective, and give you the tools to work through your feelings.
2. Let It Out
You’re hurting right now, and that’s totally okay. Whether you decided to end things or they did, it still means you’re losing a friend and there are a lot of emotions you’re working through. The emotions are good, even the tough ones! It’s a sign that you gave yourself fully to the friendship and were genuinely vulnerable, which is a healthy way to live.
We definitely recommend journaling. Write down every thought and feeling you have about the breakup. Journaling can help you work through your emotions while feeling and validating them. You can journal about why you think the friendship ended, how that made you feel, and ways you can get through it. Psst… check out DiveThru’s app for a ton of journaling prompts. We’re a little biased but we think it’s a pretty great resource…
The major thing we want to avoid is avoidance. There’s no better way out than through!
3. Respect Boundaries
This will be a little different if you ended the friendship with them, or if they ended it with you, but either way, boundaries will be super important.
If you’re the one ending a friendship, it’s for the best that you don’t contact them again. They deserve the time to work through their feelings on everything without you confusing them or giving them hope. This isn’t to say that your friendship needs to be done forever, but if that’s what you decided and told them, then you should treat that as a boundary. If you feel safe and/ or comfortable doing so, you can talk with them about what they need for closure. That does not mean you need to let them try to change your mind! But if you both want to, you can have a conversation to give you both some closure. Even if you’re the one ending the friendship, they’re totally within their rights to draw their own lines right now, too.
If you’re the one who was broken up with by a friend, deciding on and setting boundaries will be key. Whether it’s a conversation you have in the moment or at some point in the future (if they ghosted you or didn’t explain their reasoning clearly), telling them your boundaries is important. You can set boundaries about contact (virtual and/ or in-person), how to react if you run into each other somewhere, returning any borrowed possessions, and make it clear that neither of you should talk shit about each other with other people. You absolutely deserve to have your boundaries respected at this time and setting those boundaries will be key to both of you moving on.
4. Remember That Endings Are Okay
It’s okay – and even healthy – to remember that a friendship has the potential to end. People enter romantic relationships with the knowledge that it might not work out. That’s not always the case with friendships. After all, we say “best friends forever” but rarely “boyfriend/girlfriends forever!”
A broken friendship is normal. It doesn’t have to reflect your other friendships or who you are as a person. Sometimes things end, and that can be for the best. Look at your fave shows! So many of the really good ones have a point where they end, the plots are wrapped up, and it’s all pretty satisfying, and a lot of the not-so-good ones drag it on too long and end up jumping the shark.
So if your friendship ended, you can think of it like Game of Thrones or How I Met Your Mother: you made some good memories that you’ll eventually look back at fondly, even though you don’t love the way it ended.
5. Take Time To Know Yourself
Losing a friendship can be rough. What do you do with yourself now that you can’t text them and hang? Well, you can go do everything you wanted to do before, by yourself!
You might hesitate to spend time alone, if you’re used to going out with friends, which is totally reasonable. But being alone can be healthy! Spending time by yourself can let you get to know what you want a little better, without any outside influence. Try to reframe a shopping trip by yourself as an opportunity to figure out exactly what your style is, not what other people think you should wear. Or you can go see that movie that your friend wasn’t excited about but you were dying to see.
Losing a friendship doesn’t mean that you lose yourself, too. In fact, it can be an opportunity to get to know yourself better, re-engage in hobbies and interests you had, and prioritize the other dope people that you still have in your life.
A loss of a friendship doesn’t mean you’re wrong, broken, or totally alone. On the other hand, cutting ties with someone when the friendship isn’t working doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that future friendships won’t work out. Friendships, like all relationships, are complicated, stressful, and sometimes messy. So whoever decided to end the friendship, you should still treat yourself with love, and maybe take yourself on a solo movie date.