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How to Cope With A Friend Breakup

The ending of a friendship can hurt as much as a romantic breakup, so here’s how to cope.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In our society, romantic relationships are constantly pushed into our faces. Love songs play on the radio night and day, the tabloids report every single detail of celebrities’ love lives, and some of us start dating as young as middle school.

So, it’s no wonder that the end of “true love” is just as press-worthy as the beginning. However, though friend breakups aren’t as heavily advertised, they can hurt as much as a romantic breakup.

According to Seth Meyers, Psy. D, both the ending of a friendship and a romantic relationship result in feeling unwanted. “That feeling of being unwanted is hard to bear for anyone who has trusted an attachment,” he says. “Emotional intimacy in a friendship may be just as strong as the intimacy shared with a romantic partner,” he adds. The loss of your close confidant can take a severe toll on your mental health.

So, how do you get over a friendship breakup?

1. Create a support system

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

– Walter Winchell

When one friend leaves your life, turn to family, genuine friends, or acquaintances you’d like to build a closer bond with.

Whenever my former best friend, Sally (not her real name), and I parted ways, I created a list of everyone I could depend on. Whenever I felt alone, seeing the list provided reassurance.

If your former friend was the only person you were close to, it may take time before you establish a support system. However, don’t go back to a toxic friendship just for the sake of not being alone.

The year after my friendship with Sally ended, I didn’t have anyone I could relate to at school and spent my lunches quietly reading or doing homework. However, that period of loneliness was worth it in the long run. I learned how to prioritize myself, and friends came soon.

Know that you will eventually forge a close bond with someone with good intentions.

2. Talk about it

My aunt was an endless source of wisdom and comfort when I felt like I didn’t have people my age to talk to. Communicating my feelings lifted a burden off my chest.

Everyone has had friendships end, so you may find unexpected solidarity by sharing your story with others. Hearing others’ coping mechanisms after a friend breakup and lessons they’ve learned in the process provides reassurance that you aren’t alone in your struggles.

3. Prioritize self care

Take time to work on yourself and cultivate better habits. Only after you have regained a healthy mindset and positive attitude will you be able to be a good friend to others.

Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression and improve self-esteem. A daily 10-minute walk out in nature is both an exercise for your legs and in mindfulness.

Developing new passions will expand your knowledge and also introduce you to new groups of people with similar interests.

4. Analyze what went wrong in the friendship

It may take some time before a thought of that person doesn’t immediately invoke anger or sadness in you. That’s normal, but once you’ve developed new strong friendships and outlets, break down what caused you and your friend to end your relationship.

Especially if one of you was acting manipulative or toxic, realizing that can improve the quality of your future friendships. Hindsight is 20/20, so learn from the mistakes you made, if any.

Personally, I learned to expand my social circle and not put all my energy into one friendship. Now, with this knowledge, I’ve developed genuine friendships I know I can depend on.

The Takeaway

When you break up with your significant other, all your friends crowd around you with an endless supply of Kleenex and tubs of Ben and Jerry’s. There’re snarky comments left on your ex-partner’s Instagram posts and a dramatic “unfriending” on Facebook, all to let the world know that you, Jill, are no longer with Jack.

But, what about friend breakups? What makes the end of 3 months spent with a significant other a bigger deal than the end of 3 years spent with a best friend? Romantic breakups end with a Big Bang version 2.0, and friend breakups — well, they’re a tiny blip in space to everyone except the two people involved.

Here are 4 ways to cope with a friend breakup:

  • Create a support system
  • Talk about it
  • Prioritize self care
  • Analyze what went wrong in the friendship

Any type of breakup, platonic or romantic, is bound to hurt, but by using these coping mechanisms, you can reduce the amount of pain you feel.

And remember,

“Don’t be afraid of new beginnings. Don’t shy away from new people, new energy, new surroundings. Embrace new chances at happiness.” — Billy Chapata


How to Cope With A Friend Breakup was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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