Breaking up with friends is hard. Sometimes, it can be because you are both different people and are growing in different directions, or it can be something darker like they are a toxic influence on you. Whatever the reason, sometimes adult friendships need to end and it can be hard to know what to do, how to move forward, and move on.
Don’t underestimate the struggle of a friendship breakup. It can be just as painful as a romantic breakup, and you shouldn’t fall into the trap of pretending it isn’t as painful as it is. We can often trust our friends more than anyone, which means it can feel even more devastating when the relationship ends.
However, like all breakups, it isn’t the end of the world. You will heal, you will feel better, you will move on in time, and you will find more friends. But while you are processing this, there are things that you can do to help you cope when an adult friendship ends.
Here are seven ways to cope when adult friendships end and move on:
1. Remind Yourself That People Come and Go for a Reason
Life is not linear. You may meet someone and it may go well, but that doesn’t mean you are supposed to be with them forever.
Not all people are supposed to be in your life. Sometimes, they come into your life for a reason and leave when the lesson is learned.
There is great peace in thinking that people come in phases and when their time is up, they move on. There is no rhyme or reason, no right or wrong. It just is.
As you grow and change, so will your adult friendships, and letting go of the idea that you have to be best friends with everyone you have ever met in your life is incredibly freeing. You have lost a friend, and it is hard. But the reality is that now, there is more space in your life for someone else to come in.
2. Learn and Understand the Grieving Process
You have experienced a loss—a breakup. Understanding and learning the grieving process can be exceedingly helpful if you feel the loss consuming you. You are grieving the loss of your friendship, and understanding why you go from denial to anger in a split second can help bring back control over what is happening to you.
Remember that grieving is not a linear process either. You can process emotionally in one area, like the loss of day-to-day chatting and contact, and then five months later, you may realize that another aspect of your friendship is over and the grieving process starts again.
It is a continuous cycle as the loss hits you in layers. There is nothing wrong with this. It is important to feel your feelings and process them.
Don’t pressure yourself to be immediately healed and happy and put on a good face for others. Take your time, process your emotions, and let them go.
3. Keep a Journal to Process Your Feelings
Breakups are messy, romantic or not. You will have to process a lot of feelings, and the best way to cope with the loss and pain is to get it out of your head and onto paper.
Get an app, journal, or even a standing weekly appointment with someone to talk to and process your feelings. Get them out of your head and into a safe space.
If they remain in your head, it is easy to obsess over them. It is like walking around with a book in front of your face. You keep re-reading the same page and get frustrated that you can’t see where you are going, and the story isn’t advancing. There is no closure.
Put the book down, and process your feelings. This is an incredibly important tool when dealing with feelings of anger, shame, loss, and pain. If you don’t process them, they will build up and you will explode at someone close to you and regret it.
Take five minutes when you feel overwhelmed, and just write out how you are feeling. Don’t be shy either—let it all out.
Your journal should be a safe space to express yourself unconditionally. There is no need to pull your punches. Get it all out.
4. Reach Out to Good Friends and Lean on Them
You have other adult friendships in your life. No matter who you have lost, there are others who will still be there for you.
There is a great Dr. Seuss quote that says, “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
You are going through a loss, and one of those losses might be regular contact with a friend or someone to do things with daily. Most of the time, it will be habitual. You don’t have to let that habit go, just reach out to other people to attend events, hang out, or chat with you.
If you need to talk to someone, reach out and ask for help. It can be easy to reflexively push everyone away, but now is the most important time to lean on the people you trust.
5. Solidify Your Self-Care Routine
The first thing we neglect when dealing with an emotional upheaval is self-care. Make sure your self-care routine is unbreakable. The last thing you want is to spiral into depression or develop social anxiety.
Self-care is the easiest thing to forget, so make sure that your self-care routine is solid.
Things like eating nutritiously, drinking water, exercising three times a week, showering and keeping your environment clean, getting out into nature, speaking to yourself with kindness, and taking a mental health break are all a part of self-care.
Make sure you aren’t isolating yourself from your other friends. Reach out, ask for help, and take care of yourself. It is also a great way to keep your mind off the pain while you are processing.
6. Try New Things
Now is the best time to try something you always wanted to try and meet new people. There is so much in the world to discover and explore.
Pick a hobby you have always wanted to try, take a class, sign up for a course, or say yes the next time someone asks you to join them in one of their hobbies. You will never know what will be your next favorite thing.
When we were children, we were always growing and trying. We had a new toy or hobby every year as we got older, and that shouldn’t stop because you are an adult. Try new things and embrace the childlike quality of being new at something and meeting different people.
Mixing things up can also help break the stuck mindset you may fall into when experiencing a loss. Process your feelings, but don’t let them stop you from living your life.
7. Show Yourself Kindness, Spend Time Learning About Yourself
At the end of the day, you have experienced loss. You are not a failure or unworthy, and you need to treat yourself with kindness.
Start with self-forgiveness. Take all the time you need, but forgive your friend for the end of the friendship and forgive yourself so you can move on. Now is a great time to spend some time learning about yourself and reflect on what you want in a friendship.
It is so easy to close yourself off, but you deserve to have a thriving and happy social life. This includes friendships. Take some time to work out what kind of people you want to surround yourself with and build stronger friendships with them.
Moving on from a friendship breakup is a process, but you will recover. You will move on. It is just a matter of time, self-care, and spending quality time with yourself and others who are also in your life.
Let go of the blame and release the pressure you have on yourself, while surrendering the need to control the outcome. You have no control over their choices. You only have control over yourself and the ability to find joy and happiness in your life.
Take care of yourself, learn more about you, and find the people who truly matter in your life. While one adult friendship may come to an end, there are many other opportunities to foster connections and build new relationships in your life.
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com