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6 tips on how to cope with a friendship break-up

Tips & tricks by Hannah Pooley

Friends are the people that make us. They are our crux, our confidantes, our role models, our motivators, and our partners-in-crime. So when we lose a friend, it can leave a particularly prominent hole in our lives. Getting through a friendship breakup is difficult, but not impossible. Hannah Pooley gives her six tips for doing so.

The Beatles once sang ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ and in this hectic and sometimes perplexing world, the phrase still feels as apt as it was in 1967. Friends are an integral part of our lives; they are who we go to for support and advice when times are tough, and they are the people we can be our true selves with.

A study conducted in 2006 by Utrecht University in the Netherlands, found that men and women accumulate friends until the age of 25, then the numbers begin to fall rapidly and continue to fall throughout the rest of a person’s life.

Even though the loss of friends is a natural and inevitable part of life, it can be confusing and turbulent – so how do you deal with that loss and why don’t we talk about how it affects us?

For whatever reason you have lost a friendship, be it distance, disagreements or paths being different, that sudden empty spot in your life can affect your mental health. It can often feel like you are experiencing grief.

No matter how long you have known someone, when they suddenly go, or when you realise they’ve gone, this loss can be isolating and overwhelming. People tend to ask how you are after a breakup from a romantic partner, but the same can’t always be said when it’s a friend.

In mainstream culture, from films, TV dramas and even songs, there is a lack of representation of friendships ending. Is this down to the fact that, in modern society, friendship break ups are downplayed, and more alarmingly, is this because acknowledging it any further would mean that we would be forced to reexamine ourselves?

Perhaps reexamining yourself and your life isn’t a bad thing. There can be a silver lining to change, even if it feels like a difficult one. Taking stock of those around you is key and trying not to dwell on what you believe to be your faults will ultimately make you feel more fulfilled.

6 tips on how to cope with a friendship break-up

So, you have parted ways with a friend, but how do you move forward in a positive way? Here are five tips:

1. Talk about it – talk to your other nearest and dearest about how you are feeling, tell your therapist, tell your dog and – most importantly – tell yourself. It may be helpful to write your feelings in a journal, so that you can reflect in the future when your emotions aren’t as raw.

2. Distract yourself – keeping busy will keep your mind active, even if that is by cleaning the windows or just reading a book – it will allow you to focus your energy into other things.

3. When you’re ready, burn anything that reminds you of an ex-friend – I’m kidding! But if you have some items in your life that you feel just don’t fit anymore, yet hold sentimental value, put them away somewhere and if, later down the line, you still don’t want them around, throw them out and get rid!


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4. Remind yourself that healing takes time – there will always be reminders of your old friendship, and you are allowed to cherish those memories; it’s part of your life and therefore, it has helped make you who you are.

5. Focus on yourself and your inner circle – it will be hard not to over-analyse where things went wrong when a friendship ends or what you could have done differently. But tread carefully as these thoughts can begin to consume us and severely effect our mental health. Arguably the healthiest way to move on (and grow) is to take stock of yourself and focus on the people you do have in your life – whether that is friends or family.

6. Reflect on your own life goals, and what you’d like to do with the people closest to you in future – plan a trip, drinks, a movie night or even make that catch up call with someone that you keep forgetting to do! A loss of a friendship is a huge change in anyone’s life, but it doesn’t have to all be doom and gloom – it may even be the start of the next chapter in your life.

It's OK for a friendship to end

With all these tips in mind, there is one final thing you should make sure you do: give yourself a break!

There is always support out there in whatever form you decide to seek it out. A very wise friend of mine once told me this: our lives are like an extensive train journey and some friends will join you in your carriage for the whole trip, whereas others will only be on board until a certain station.


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