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How to Get Over a Friendship Breakup

Dear Eliza, I’ve recently had a major fallout with my best friend, resulting in both of us feeling hurt. It seems unlikely that we can ever fix our relationship to the way it was before. I’m struggling to move forward, and coping with this long-term friendship breakup seems impossible. Could you help me in dealing with this friendship breakup?

Letter from Eliza

Hi there,

Friendships are the relationships we choose, the bonds that form outside the confines of family ties or romantic connections. Yet, as profound and beautiful as they are, friendships are not immune to the trials that sometimes lead to their end. Today, let’s talk about the often-neglected topic of friendship breakups and how to heal the wounds they leave behind.

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings – Much like the end of a romantic relationship, a friendship breakup can trigger a stream of emotions. You might feel anger, sadness, confusion, or even relief. It’s crucial to acknowledge and validate these feelings. Suppressing them can only prolong the healing process. Write in a journal, talk to a confidant, or simply give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the friendship.
  2. Understand the Why – To truly heal, it’s important to understand why the friendship ended. Was it a gradual drift or a sudden rupture? Was it due to conflicting values, changing life circumstances, or a specific incident? Reflecting on the cause can provide clarity and closure, helping you make sense of the loss.
  3. Allow Yourself to Grieve – Friendship breakups, though less frequently discussed, can be just as painful as romantic ones. Give yourself the time and space to grieve. This might mean reminiscing about the good times, looking at photos, or allowing yourself to cry. Healing begins with honoring the significance of the relationship.
  4. Seek Support – Lean on your support system. Share your feelings and experiences with trusted friends or family members who can provide comfort and understanding. Sometimes, simply talking about your emotions can reduce the weight of the breakup.
  5. Set Boundaries – Just as in romantic relationships, it’s often necessary to establish boundaries with an ex-friend. If contact with the person brings you more pain than healing, consider limiting or cutting off communication. This is about protecting your emotional well-being.
  6. Prioritize Self-Care – This is the time to prioritize self-care. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it’s pursuing a hobby, practicing mindfulness, or spending time in nature, investing in yourself will help you rebuild your emotional strength.
  7. Embrace New Connections – As one chapter closes, another begins. Be open to forming new friendships. Attend social events, join clubs, or take up classes that align with your interests. New connections can bring unexpected joy and healing.
  8. Seek Professional Help if Needed – If you find yourself unable to cope with the emotional aftermath of a friendship breakup, seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor can be immensely beneficial. They can provide tools and strategies to help you navigate your emotions and move forward.
  9. Learn and Grow – Friendship breakups can be profound teachers. They provide an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Use this time to learn about yourself, your boundaries, and your needs in relationships.
  10. Forgive and Release – Forgiveness is not about condoning the actions that led to the breakup; it’s about releasing the emotional burden that keeps you tied up to the past. Forgiving your ex-friend can free you to move forward with a lighter heart.

In the end I’d say friendship breakups, while painful, are a part of the complex tapestry of life. They offer us the chance to grow, to reassess our priorities, and to learn about the resilience of the human heart. Remember, you are not alone in experiencing this kind of a loss, and with time and self-care, you will emerge from it stronger and wiser.

With heartfelt support,

Eliza

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