I had a friendship breakup…now what?

by | Relational/Couples Counseling

Losing a platonic relationship, or friendship, is heartbreaking and not often discussed in our society. Many of us have experienced a romantic breakup, we may even have our own curated playlist for it. But friendship breakups aren’t discussed as often, and can bring about a wide variety of emotions. 

Maybe you’ve lost a friend due to life differences, like parenthood or politics. Or maybe there was a significant betrayal that left you with needing to set boundaries and having hurt feelings. Either way, these breakups can feel isolating and difficult. 

It is completely normal to grieve the loss of a friendship. Many times, you are losing someone you have a lot of shared history and memories with. You may have lost a primary support person, or someone who has a meaningful relationship with your family and kids. Platonic relationships are important to our wellbeing and sense of community, it makes sense this breakup would lead to a period of grief. Here are some reminders to get through a friendship breakup: 

You don’t have to “get over it.” 

Losing a friend isn’t something you have to get over quickly.  It is not something that requires a quick fix. It is okay to be affected by this loss indefinitely. You may be mourning the loss of this relationship for months and years to come, and that is okay. It is sad, after all. That doesn’t mean you can’t move forward in other ways, like making new friends (which we will get to). Many times we have a lot of good memories with an old friend, and we can cherish those for what they were at the time. It is normal to miss what once was, and that doesn’t mean you have to act on these feelings. This is a great time to practice self compassion and show yourself kindness, both in your thoughts and actions. 

Apologize, reflect, and allow yourself to grow: 

Any change in a relationship is an opportunity to reflect on your relational patterns. This may be an opportunity to take accountability for the harm that you have done. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Apologize when an apology is warranted. It may be helpful to journal about how you would like to show up in friendships moving forward. What areas do you need to grow in? If you caused harm, what led to this behavior and how can you prevent causing this harm in the future? What boundaries are needed for future relationships? While it can be difficult to self-reflect during a period of grief, you are building the foundation for stronger and healthier relationships in the future. 

Be intentional about making new friendships that feel aligned: 

When the time is right, remember that you can always make new friends. Yes, making new friends is hard, but doable. Try friendship “dating” apps, joining a class or pickup game, attending groups at a place of worship if you are religious, or telling colleagues and other acquaintances that you are looking to meet new people! While it may feel lonely, try to attend events by yourself and meet new people. Furthermore, use this time to think about what you want out of any new friends. Is it important that your friends share your values or interests? Is it important that you have a sober community or a queer community? Think about the type of person you can be your most authentic self around. Where would this person spend their time, and what sort of activities would you do with them? Lastly, remember that making new friendships takes time and intentionality. No one likes the awkward stages of meeting new people, but building a new relationship requires effort. Come up with questions and discussion topics in advance. Make it a goal to reach out to someone each week. Offer up new friend date ideas, like going for a walk with coffees or taking a new class together. 

Seek community and support: 

As previously mentioned, losing a friend is really difficult. Allow yourself to be supported by others. This is a great time to lean on your partner, or other friends who are willing to show up for you. If you are able to, be clear about what type of support you need. Friendship breakups often come with a lot of shame, even though they are completely normal. Seek out people and resources that are “shame-busters,” and are able to be both realistic and compassionate. This is also an important life transition to bring up with your therapist. Therapy is a great place to vent, gain support, reflect on behaviors, and process this significant change while making actionable steps for the future. 

At the end of the day, just like romantic breakups, friendship breakups can be heartbreaking. Allow yourself to feel the variety of human emotions when going through this significant loss. Try to practice self compassion, and reframe any punishing thoughts of shame. You can always lean on other support people, reach out to a therapist, and when you’re ready, try to build new relationships that feel aligned.

Valued Living Therapy

We are a dynamic, trauma-informed, multi-specialty group practice of mental health professionals offering therapy in the heart of Edina, MN and online throughout Minnesota.

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