Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.
When a friendship ends, the pain and disappointment may be as traumatic and stressful as a divorce or a break-up. Here are some tips to help you recover after a friendship comes to an end.
Letting go and learning to live without someone you love and care about can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. But, with time and gentle self-reflection, you can get past your feelings of hurt and disappointment. You can move on with your life, even if it means finding a way to do so without a dear friend at your side.
Why Did My Friendship End?
There are many reasons that a friendship may come to an end. And not all of them have to do with having a big "falling out." You may be feeling sad about your friend moving away. Or, perhaps you were the one who moved away. You may be feeling sad because you and your friend no longer share the same hobbies, interests, and activities. Changes in your life, or your friend's life, may mean that you have less time to see each other. When one friend gets married or starts a family, sometimes priorities change and the friendship can’t thrive the way it once did.
Whatever the reason your friendship came to an end, here are some ways to cope with your loss.
Avoid Playing the Blame Game
Look at your friendship objectively and without judgement. There is no need to blame yourself or the other person for your friendship ending, unless you want to hang onto the pain of losing your friend for the rest of your life. Blame, anger, and resentment are traps that keep you from moving on after a relationship ends.
Create New Habits and Routines
When a friendship ends, old habits die hard sometimes. Perhaps you and your friend had a daily ritual of calling each other at a certain time of day. A favorite TV show or song on the radio can trigger memories of your friendship and bring up feelings of loss and sadness. Constant reminders of your old friendship can make letting go really hard. Finding new social activities, hobbies, and sports activities can keep your mind occupied, improve your mental and physical health and create new social connections.
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Be Your Own Best Friend for a While
Loving yourself after a let-down is a critical part of recovering from the pain of a relationship ending. You may be feeling down on yourself for letting the friendship end. But that self-hate won’t get you anywhere. In fact, it will make finding new friends and companions even harder. When you put yourself down, you draw negative attention to yourself. Try to find positive, life-affirming solo activities that make you feel good about yourself again. Set some personal goals that you want to reach and then make a plan to achieve each of those new goals. But, make sure that the goals you set are for you and you alone. Don’t set a self-improvement goal just to get back at your friend or make her jealous (i.e.; "I will lose weight so that I can look more fabulous than her!”). Goals set just to spite someone else won’t help you move past the pain of the relationship ending.
Give Yourself Time and Space
One of the most important things to do when you’re letting go of someone you care about, whether it’s your best friend, a close office buddy, or a favorite study pal from school, is to give yourself—as well as the other person—time and space to cope with the grief of a lost friendship. You both will need time and space to figure out how to live independently and find new interests and activities.
"There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart."
— Mahatma Gandhi
With Time, You Will Recover
It may be hard to reach out to others for a while; it may be hard to let yourself trust another person; it may be difficult to let your guard down and let new people into your life. But if you want to move on after a friendship comes to an end, you must find new ways to reach out to others.
If you have forgotten how to make new friends, here are a few articles that can help you get back on your feet again.
A Gentle Meditation on Letting Go of a Relationship
"Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak; sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go."
— Author Unknown
© 2013 Sadie Holloway