Friendships tend to come and go throughout the journey of life. Sometimes, it happens naturally while other times it can be highly emotional and stressful. If you are struggling with losing a friend, read through the following tips and see if any of the strategies may be useful for your own situation. At Paradigm Treatment Centers, we offer various programs that can help teens and young adults through difficult times in their lives.
If the time has come to move on, here are some tips to help you work through your feelings:
Make your mental health a priority
Studies have shown that social relationships can obstruct or support behavior change. If you are beginning to experience personal growth, it can be threatening to the people close to you. The inability of your friend to grow with you may trigger a breakup. If you were in a toxic relationship, you might also need to recover from assaults on your mental health, self-worth, and self-confidence.
Seek resolution when possible
A lot of people are confused about losing a friend. They don’t understand why it happened or feel like they didn’t get to say what they wanted to. Talking to the person is a healthy way to prompt understanding, express how you were hurt, and possibly apologize.
Forgiveness protects your health, even in high-stress circumstances. It takes time and is more of a lifestyle change than a one-time event. As you move on from the friendship breakup, you won’t feel, or heal, all the feelings immediately. In the future, you may hear about events in your former friend’s life and you would have expected to share these moments. Watching from the sidelines can be painful, so it’s important to forgive as new pain arises.
Guilt and responsibility
If you feel guilty about how the friendship ended, or about earlier experiences during the friendship, it’s time to let it go. But in addition, you need to take responsibility for your actions and times that you might have failed during the relationship. Here is why that’s important:
By letting go of false guilt you can move on and be free from feeling tied to the former friend. By taking responsibility for your actions you are able to grow and become a better friend in the future.
In order to move on and find healing, you need distance. It might be necessary to change the places you go and remove your friend from your social media. In the case of mutual friends, getting distance is more complicated but don’t ask your mutual friends to take sides. If you need to retire from some activities for a while then do so. This can be healing at first, but don’t give up everything you enjoy just to avoid running into your former friend.
Validate your emotions
Breaking up is a feeling of rejection at the heart of a friendship. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, there will still be a feeling that someone you were so close to no longer values you as a person.
While it’s expected to experience difficult emotions after a romantic breakup, society doesn’t always have the same understanding of losing a friend. If your social group isn’t supportive of the way you feel, we understand and validate your emotions. So should you.
Don’t let it follow you
It’s painful to see a friend move on. You may want to believe you matter enough that they will experience the same amount of pain that you are. When it appears that they are happy and unaffected it might seem like you never even mattered to them. Hanging onto these feelings may drag you down and affect other parts of your life. One of the keys to moving on is…actually moving on. You don’t have to let go of all the good things you shared together. You’re just letting go of your need for them in your life.
Rebuild your ability to trust
You may eventually notice that your friendship or the breakup has had an impact on how you view others. That’s because any time there is emotional intimacy and vulnerability, there is a relationship of trust. Whether or not it’s intentional, it has an impact on your ability to trust other people
Get involved in positive relationships
As you go through the grieving process, the time will come when it’s important to begin forming new friendships. Get involved in creating positive and healthy relationships. Use what you learned to prepare to be a better friend and set boundaries so you don’t accept bad behavior from someone else and remember to avoid spending all your time and emotions on one person.
Develop new habits and make new memories
Being involved in a friendship can cause a narrowing of your personality. Now is the opportunity to recognize your potential and broaden your outlook for the future. Stop thinking about the things you used to do together and work to build new experiences and memories.
How To Spot a Toxic Relationship
In a toxic relationship, you might feel unhappy and exhausted after spending time with your friend. Instead of looking forward to seeing them, you might be dreading it. So what are some of the signs of a toxic relationship? Here are some red flags of a toxic relationship:
- You give more than you get
- You don’t trust them anymore
- You dread seeing a text from them on your phone
- Time together isn’t enjoyable anymore
- You don’t even like yourself when you’re together
- You know they talk trash about you
- Your friendship is a competition
- You’re suspicious of their intentions
- Their advice isn’t dependable
- Their behavior toward others embarrasses you
- You have to make excuses for them
- You feel used
- You don’t know why you’re friends.
- They criticize you all. the. time.
- They make you doubt yourself
Tips for Breaking up With a Friend
Ending a friendship might seem like a drastic step at first, but for anybody who has been hurt while in a long-term friendship, a breakup can be a reasonable and necessary choice.
If you believe you’ve done all you could and that it would be better if there was a breakup, the next issue is how to go forward. The best practices for making a clean (and kind) break from a friend when it’s time to say goodbye to a BFF are:
Keep it face-to-face or over the phone, as opposed to just ghosting the person or quietly drifting apart. Seeing each other’s faces (or hearing their voices) allows less room for meanings to be misunderstood. Everyone has taken a text the wrong way, right? Doing this in person also shows the importance of the situation and the courage and conviction you have in your position. Text messaging can be used as a last resort when other methods of communication are either too hostile or impossible.
Stay on Neutral Ground
It’s easy to fall into the old habit of choosing your usual hangout to initiate the breakup. But that’s not a good idea and neither is your home or theirs. Make sure the location feels safe and that you can leave if needed. Some parks and coffee shops can provide a certain degree of privacy without being too confined. Or choose a location that is not well known to both of you. You don’t want to take the chance of an encounter after the breakup or be constantly reminded of it.
Tell Them First
Although it’s important to seek advice from other sources and understand your situation in different ways, the intentions of the breakup should be kept between the two of you. It’s always best to tell your friend before anyone else to avoid unwanted drama and involving others. Talking behind your former friend’s back and spreading the dirt around only makes a big mess of everything.
When the time comes, you may be tempted to ease into the conversation indirectly, but don’t do that. Being direct is important because it makes your intentions clear. It requires courage to address an issue such as ending a friendship but it’s better than evasion or avoidance. Limit the conversation to the essentials of your reasons and feelings about the friendship ending. This makes it easier for both of you.
The circumstances of a breakup are naturally tense. It wouldn’t take much to make them worse by being argumentative, negative, or rude. Remain calm and polite throughout the interaction. It would also be important to remark on what you may have gotten from the friendship if anything, and mention special times or events that might have been meaningful to you. Just because there were some negatives doesn’t mean the entire experience has to be.
Be Ready to Explain
Giving an explanation doesn’t mean blaming the other person. But it does mean taking responsibility for being clear about how your needs aren’t being met. Be tactful and to the point. Bringing up every grievance throughout the whole friendship does more harm than good. Keep it to 2 or 3 main emotions you’ve experienced during the friendship and when you experienced them.
In the interest of kindness, it’s better to frame your statements using “I” instead of “you,” which sounds more like an accusation. Instead of saying “You’re never there for me when I need you,” you can say “I need someone who can share equally in a friendship.” Using “I” allows you to take responsibility for your standards without putting the blame totally on the other person. This allows for a more objective interaction.
Building For Your Future at Paradigm Treatment
If you’re feeling crushed by losing a friend, whether you cut the ties or they did, it is understandable. We get it. At Paradigm Treatment Center, our counselors are experienced in helping people who are having problems sorting out their emotions and feelings.
Paradigm’s programs are geared toward teens and young adults so we know about the important changes and emotions that are prevalent at this time of life. And because academics are so important to a young person’s development, we coordinate with their schools to help them stay on track.
If you or a loved one is struggling emotionally, it doesn’t have to be that way. Paradigm’s comprehensive treatment programs have a lot to offer. Think outside of the box. Contact us today.