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How To Deal With Grief And Get Over A Friend Breakup

The first denial, raging wrath, and/or newly discovered loneliness that come with being the victim of a love breakup are experiences that most of us can relate to.

And there is a ton of professional advice—as well as four studio albums by Adele—available to assist individuals get over such heartache. But what about the suffering experienced upon ending a platonic bond?

We’ve already given advise on how to determine when it’s appropriate to stop your friendship with your BFF, but if you’re the one who was ghosted or dumped by a friend, we understand. Sincerely, it hurts—possibly much more than the rupture of a romantic or family bond, Professor at Northern Illinois University and co-author of Toxic Friendships: Knowing the Rules, Dealing with Friends Who Break Them, Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, LCPC, NCC

Friends are the ones who support us when our romantic relationships collapse, our careers fail, or we just need a hug and a safe place to vent, says Dr. Degges-White.

They serve as our sounding boards, supporters, coaches, and occasionally, substitute therapists all rolled into one. Therefore, when we lose a close friend, we also lose someone to whom we may turn for help.

The fallout can occasionally be attributed to an unresolvable problem or a significant disagreement of opinion. People may find it more difficult to connect the same way they used to when going through basic life changes like relocating to a new city or becoming parents.

Whatever the reason for your friend’s decision to end things, you may use these professional advice to help you get through this challenging and rarely talked-about transition.


Remind yourself that it’s possible—and completely acceptable—to experience friend loss grief.

When your bestie decides they no longer want you in their life, rejection hurts, and it’s common to feel a range of emotions, from anger to despair to confusion. The first and possibly most crucial step in moving past a friendship breakup is acknowledging and dealing with your painful emotions rather than brushing them off (“But it’s not like we dated, right?”). Licensed therapist and proprietor of Covenant Counseling Group in Maryland, Weena Wise, LCMFT, tells this reporter

After all, you’ve probably exchanged countless texts, jokes, and secrets with your ex-friend, leaving yourself completely exposed to them. It does not follow that you did not experience a painful loss just because you are not dealing with a death or a conventional split, for example. Recognize that it’s normal to be upset before you judge yourself for being so upset. You’ll be better able to resist self-criticism, self-blame, and other negative thoughts that could surface as you process the breakup if you choose to treat yourself nicely instead, advises Wise.

Try not to dwell on the good (and not-so-good) ol‘ times.

Most people romanticize the past, so after a breakup with a friend, you could feel compelled to look over old pictures or idly check their Instagram to see how they’re getting along without you. Even while your grief is still recent, it might be quite tempting to dwell on the past and stress over what went wrong, but Wise warns that this won’t help you feel better in the long run.

It’s not always necessary to ban or unfollow someone once a friendship ends, and you can’t make your brain stop thinking about them. But for as long you need to heal, you might want to think about at least muzzling their posts (or removing your own account via a social media cleanse). The extent to which you cut off digital communication can vary depending on a number of factors, such as whether or not the relationship ended after a major argument and how likely it is that you would run into this person again (since it can be embarrassing if you have a lot of similar friends).

The main advantage of setting limits online, according to Wise, is that you won’t get any pointless reminders of them as you try to move on.

Don’t sink to the level of your ex-friend if they wronged you.

Sometimes couples drift away gradually and without incident. Some people, not so much. You could have to cope with a former acquaintance who is criticizing you behind your back or holding you (and you alone) solely responsible for the aftermath. Your first inclination could be to “get even,” but Wise strongly advises against doing so. Even while it may seem satisfactory in the moment, two wrongs don’t necessarily equal a right: According to research, publicly criticizing someone online or spreading rumors about them to friends won’t help you much in the long run. Dr. Degges-White continues, “If anything, it’ll only make things messier and consume you with negative emotions like anger and sadness.”

So, are you just expected to accept all of this criticism? Of course not, but Dr. Degges-White advises venting to a person you can genuinely trust, such a different friend, a member of your family, or your therapist, if you have one, rather than allowing your annoyance or disappointment linger and make you withdraw from others. She continues, “Without stooping to their vengeful level, it’s a healthier way to let off steam, work through your feelings, and share your side of the story.”

If you wronged them, apologize—but also give them space to heal.

Okay, so perhaps you are to blame for the friendship’s demise. Maybe you offended someone with a remark or broke a promise. (Hey, it occurs. We are not flawless.)

If you haven’t apologized yet and you’re serious about saving the relationship, Dr. Degges-White advises that you start by expressing your regret. You’ll have a chance to own your wrongdoing and show that you can grow. You’re simply making the person you’ve wounded and yourself more miserable by refusing to admit your error and instead owning up to it like an adult.

But whether or not they decide to keep the friendship going is still up to them. Repeatedly apologizing or attempting to win them back may have good intentions, but Wise warns that it may come across as egotistical and disregarding of their boundaries. In the best case scenario, they’ll forgive you and things will get back to how they were in a matter of days, weeks, months, or however long. However, the other scenario is that they reject your efforts, in which case they have the right to do so regardless of how sincere your apology may be. In that instance, it’s critical to respect their judgment and move on so that both of you can recover. Referring to…

Develop a new routine if your old one reminds you of your former bestie.

You might not feel as happy as you used to after that yoga session you used to attend together. Or perhaps you’ve lost your Sunday routine since those weekend brunches are no longer an option. When you’ve established rituals with a close buddy, Wise warns, breaking up with them might leave a significant hole in your life. In other words, initially, you will most likely feel a little empty without them.

Accept that you might outgrow some friendships.

Dropping someone because of a willful act of treachery or another serious transgression is one thing. But as we’ve just established, there are frequently a lot more nuanced aspects at work. You could no longer be excited by the things that once drew you together five years ago, such as an overlap in your social circles or shared interests. Additionally, it’s normal for your goals and hobbies to change with time. Eventually, you could no longer share much in common.

Even while we tend to think of our best friends as being in our lives for, well, forever, not all relationships last or develop with us. Dr. Degges-White advises against blaming either yourself or your companion if your friendship has just reached its conclusion. Focus on encouraging and developing friendships that represent who you are today rather than who you were a year or ten years ago, she advises. And with that,

Remember that it’s possible to make new friends.

The friendship sea is teeming with fish as well. Perhaps only your old friend could make you laugh, or perhaps you thought they were the only one who truly understood you. Who is to say, though, that there aren’t other people out there who can provide comparable love and support while also sincerely wanting to be a part of your life? You are due that.

Making new social connections and striking up discussions with strangers can be incredibly intimidating, especially as an adult. However, it can begin with something as easy as saying “hello” to your neighbor or signing up for a reading club, sports team, or other interest organization. (Once more, we are aware of how awkward and intimidating it might feel, which is why we have a complete page on how to make new acquaintances in real life.)

Just keep in mind that you’re entitled to experience heartbreak and upset while moving through a platonic breakup, regardless of how you ultimately recover from it. To be honest, it absolutely stinks to lose a friend, but Dr. Degges-White adds that moving on doesn’t mean you have to forget all of your happy memories or regret the years you shared. Instead, you can reflect on the past and express gratitude for the pleasant memories while also reminding yourself that living in the moment will help you move forward and start your next chapter, even if it means finding new and different types of support along the way.



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