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Losing a Friend: 30 Ways to Face the Pain of Best Friends Drifting Away

The pain of losing a friend can be overwhelming. It’s almost like grieving the end of an era. Learn how to cope with losing a best friend with these tips. 

losing a best friend

Ever wondered why we stick around with certain friends and why we drift away from others? Are you wondering why you’re losing a friend even if you’re trying hard to hold on to that friend?

They say that friendship is unwavering, loyal, and a bond that holds us together for life. But how true is that really? The bottom line is that losing a best friend is painful and can take you a long time to recover.

Going through a breakup from a romantic relationship is hard. However, losing a friend is a special kind of heartbreak not many people are equipped to deal with. It’s almost worse, in a way. You were so close as friends and then someone decided they no longer wanted to be your friend.

They didn’t want to have you in their life anymore. And that hurts. It hurts even more because it has nothing to do with how you look or dress or anything. It’s all about who you are as a person.

And when your very being is rejected, it’s more painful than you might imagine now. [Read: Bad friends – 25 types of friends you must unfriend from your life]

The truth behind losing friends and drifting away

All of us have special memories with friends, and they’re still a part of conversations now and then. But whatever happened to those best friends with whom you shared so many happy times over the years. You may remember most of their names, and you may be in touch with a handful of those old friends. But your relationship is nothing like it once was.

However much you’d like to deny that you’ve drifted apart, you can’t hide the fact that your friendship with a good friend just isn’t like what it used to be before.

You may speak to your best friends now and then, but the connection ends there. All of us end friendships occasionally, and we may never really understand the real reason why.

Why do you choose certain friends and avoid a few others? You may assume that you choose your friends based on compatibility or their nature, but in reality, the reasons are far darker than you think. [Read: How to be a friend – The real art of true and meaningful friendships]

Why friendships really end

Why do you think you’ve drifted away from a friend? Do you think your best friend started avoiding you for no reason at all?

The biggest reason why friends lose contact with each other, or avoid each other, is because they have nothing to gain from the other friend anymore!

It’s strange, but it’s the bitter truth. Friends lose each other because there’s no reason to keep in touch anymore. You may subconsciously feel like you’re having a better time with someone else, which may lead to you ignoring an older best friend because, quite simply, one of you doesn’t need the other person anymore.

Friends drift apart because they no longer have anything to talk about, no longer have anything to share, and one of you started believing you’re better than the other.

It might also be a lack of communication. Perhaps something happened between the two of you and you never really recovered from it. Small things tend to be the catalysts for friendships coming to an end. [Read: How and when to end a friendship if they’re toxic and holding you back]

Choosing lovers and friends

All of us have our preferences when it comes to choosing a partner. Can’t the same rule apply to friends too? You stay close to the ones that matter and avoid or even ignore the ones that don’t matter anymore.

In friendship and in a relationship, we need someone who can support us, help us in times of need, and someone who is useful to us.

Everything in the world is about mutual back-scratching, why not friendships? If you feel like you’d look cooler or become more popular by hanging out with someone, you need to give that someone something else in return to share the same affection towards you.

People like spending time with similar-minded people, or people we consider our equals with similar lifestyles or common interests.

Really now, would you sit with someone and just blink at each other for an hour? Nope! You would talk about your work, or you’d talk about the problems you have with your respective partners.

Let’s say you’ve climbed the right corporate ladder and become a multimillionaire now. If you’ve canceled your meeting with a few heads of organizations to hang out over a drink with a best friend you haven’t seen in a year, do you think you’d be happy?

Friendships revolve around interests and social status, and as hard as you may try, it’s easier to stay friends only when you’re both equals or share common interests. [Read: How to break up with a friend – The respectful steps you MUST follow]

When friendships suffer

When people start looking at things in a different way or set different priorities in life, friendships start to suffer.

Sometimes, in friendship, it’s all about who’s doing what and who’s doing better. If you’re out shopping with a friend and you get a scratch card and find out that you’ve won a trip to Hawaii, of course, you’d be delighted.

But don’t expect your friend to be very happy to see you off or welcome you back. You may even have to put up with a bit of slander and bad-mouthing because your friend would have told the whole world about how it was actually her card, which you pulled away!

But, let’s be logical here.

Deep inside, wouldn’t you be jealous and pissed off too if it was your friend who won a lottery? It’s the same thing when one friend passes out of college and gets a dream job. [Read: Jealousy vs envy – How to tell them apart when they feel the same]

What’s happened here is that one of you has suddenly got better and stepped over the emotional hierarchy between friends. It might sound harsh but at the end of the day, this is just human nature.

When the self-confidence or morale of one person in a group goes up, especially when all friends have been equals, the others can’t help but dislike the person.

When the balance tilts, the friendship tilts towards the sour side too. Friends start finding flaws and bitch about each other when the balance tilts against their favor.

You know that you’ve felt jealous, even if it was for just an instant when your best chum got something you’ve always wanted. Call it envy if you want, but really, envy is just a sugary word for a sudden involuntary burst of jealousy. [Read: Why friends end up becoming secret enemies]

Jealousy kills friendship

Friendships can sour or you can lose friendships even over everyday affairs. We get jealous all the time, and we’re not just referring to winning prize money or marrying a rich partner. Let’s talk about your life. You hang out with a group of friends all the time.

One fine day, another group of friends call you over and ask you out to have coffee. You shuffle your feet, tug your hair, crane your neck around and look at your friends who’re all too bored to do anything. So you smile at this new friend and agree. [Read: How to recognize the signs of jealousy in someone and guide them out]

When you get back after having a nice time with your new friends, you sit down with your friends. But they all seem a bit distant towards you.

No one’s talking much or laughing much, particularly at your jokes. You hear a few snide remarks about you, and you brush it off. As the days pass by, you go out with this other bunch of friends now and then, and each time, you find your pals getting more and more distant from you.

And the snide comments towards you start getting brutal. Everyone who’s ever been cool or popular has always had to go through this brutal transition of friends.

Your friends weren’t possessive about you. They didn’t have any plans, so you accompanied another group of new friends out. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that it was you who was called out, not one of your other friends. By that small gesture, you’ve shown the others that you’re the coolest one amongst your friends, and the fact that you’re superior has made the others drift away from you.

Unknown to them, they’ve marked you as a superior and can’t be with you anymore. [Read: 13 sad but clear signs your friend is trying to break up with you]

Can anyone ever be good friends?

Well, perhaps it may all be a vicious circle. And you may forever be on the move, changing friends faster than soiled underwear, which is really depressing.

Friends will come and friends will go. It’s a part of life, and as painful or annoying as it may seem, there’s nothing you can do about it but to let go and move on.

On a few rare occasions, you’ll meet a few great friends who genuinely care for you and feel happy for you and your successes. While these kinds of friends are hard to find, it’s easier to build a strong friendship when you meet someone who shares few similarities with you when it comes to your profession or your path towards success.

Always remember this, two competitors can end up as rivals, not as friends.

Good fences make good neighbors, all of us know that. If you want to share a good friendship with someone, always build your fences, set a few boundaries, and don’t cross them too early. Perfect friendships take years to build and only moments to crumble. [Read: What to do when you don’t know what to do with your life]

The best of friends are those who spend time with each other, stand up for each other, and are always ready to voice their opinion instead of feeling jealous or secretly plotting payback. It’s the first step to avoid losing friends and building better relationships.

But then again, is the friendship worth holding onto in the first place? That’s something you have to think about. And even if you aren’t thinking about it, chances are, your friend is subconsciously thinking about it and evaluating you as a long-term friend! [Read: What is a best friend? 15 signs you’ll never find someone better]

How to get over losing a best friend

Losing a friend is hard. Losing a best friend is painful. We’ve talked at length about why we lose friends and a lot of it may have seemed harsh.

But, it’s a painful truth about human nature. But, when you meet someone and you click, you build a bond and you feel like you have a ride or die for life, it’s devastating when it ends.

The reason the phrase “you look like you just lost your best friend” is something that we commonly understand is when you lose your go-to confidante, yes man, devil’s advocate, person to lean on, or the only person who you always trust to “get you,” it is devastating. It turns your whole world upside down.

One of the hardest lessons in life is learning people come in and out of our lives whether we like it or not. The good news is that when you lose someone, there will always be someone to take their place.

We lose people for all sorts of reasons. The key is to not dwell on it, but to see it for what it is – a lesson. [Read: When people hurt you – How to deal with the pain and respond to them]

1. Don’t ruminate about it

The worst part about losing a best friend is that the person that you turn to when you need someone the most, is the person you try to get over. That makes the pain even worse and leaves you feeling more lost and alone.

Sometimes it is both a blessing and a curse. Often, we ruminate over our losses with our best friends when having a pity party of two. With them not there to listen and gain some sense to the loss, you can just accept it for what it is and move forward.

If you need to reason through it, find someone else close to talk to. Just be careful who you choose, and someone you trust to put yourself out there the way you did with your BFF. [Read: 17 bad friends you should unfriend from your life]

2. Keep yourself open

In any relationship when we are hurt, we have two options. We see sometimes things just don’t go the way that we want them to and move forward, or we stay stuck and shut ourselves off.

Don’t take the loss of your best friend, no matter how it happened, as a self-fulfilling prophecy for the way things will be in the future. Sometimes we misjudge people, or they take longer to reveal who and what they really are.

If you lose your best friend because they did something ugly, don’t taint your future by thinking that you can’t or shouldn’t get close to anyone ever again because people can’t be trusted. Just because one person you loved let you down, that doesn’t mean everyone will. You just chose the wrong person to let close. [Read: How to deal with fickle friends in your life]

3. Forgive yourself

If you lost your best friend over something that you did, even if it was super ugly, stop beating yourself up about it. It is important to apologize and to try to make things right.

But, unfortunately, there are some things you can’t take back. Don’t beat yourself up about something you did. If you truly are sorry, tried to make amends, and learned your lesson, leave it behind you and move forward.

You can’t change what happened in the past or force someone to grant you forgiveness. But, the good news is that you can forgive yourself and find a way to be okay. In the end, that is all that you can do. [Read: 17 ways to focus on yourself and create your own sunshine]

4. Learn from the experience

If you wonder how to get over losing a best friend, it may take some introspection. Look at the relationship for what it really was, instead of what you thought or hoped it was.

Sometimes we get so caught up in relationships that we can’t see them for what they really are. Instead, we see them for what we needed and wanted them to be. Think realistically about what you both gained.

There was some reason that you two aren’t friends anymore and true BFF’s, short of cheating with their significant other, should always be at your side, supporting and forgiving you. If that didn’t happen, then maybe you weren’t as close as you thought you were. [Read: Letting go of someone you love–minus the bitterness]

5. Don’t speak ill of your lost friend

Don’t turn losing your best friend into a battle of who gets who. Likely, even if you two were thick as thieves, you had others in your “group.” It isn’t a contest to see who takes whose side.

If that is the route they choose, let them talk it up. Take the high road, defend yourself if necessary, but mum’s the word about your opinion about them. If you want to move on with grace and dignity, don’t start a battle by talking ugly, or stoop to their level if that is what they choose to do. Rise above it and simply say “I will miss them.” [Read: Girly things – What your girlfriend’s really gossiping about]

6. Be okay with being alone

Just like any relationship, when you lose a best friend, one of the hardest things to realize is that you are on your own. I hate to say it, but spouses, friends, family, anyone in our lives have the capacity to be gone at any minute.

It feels wonderful to have someone at your side to support and always be there. But, in the end, it was and always will be just you. We come into this world in the same way we leave it, with us.

So, find the strength to know that whatever happens, you can go it alone, be okay, make new friends, and dust yourself off. You can ALWAYS rely on you, no matter what. [Read: 15 ways to discover self-love and happiness]

7. Consider not having just one person in the future

There is something super comforting about knowing that there is that one person in your life to turn to. The problem is that it just isn’t realistic.

You don’t need just one BFF. You have an abundance of people in your life who love and care about you. Sure, they might not wear the half-broken heart necklace that professes their “BFF” status, but they are there to help you through the rough parts and lend a hand when you need it, just as you are for others. [Read: Good friends are like stars – 18 ways to build lasting friendships]

In the future, consider it okay to really like someone and spend a whole lot of time with them, but don’t isolate yourself or define one person as being everything.

We are a community of souls, so acknowledge the community. Be engaged instead of defining that one person to complete you. Only you can complete you.

8. Remember that it’s normal

It can feel very alienating when you suddenly don’t have a friend anymore, but it’s actually very normal. This happens all the time. There’s no need to be worried about it.

If you just take a deep breath and remember that this is just a part of life, you’ll feel a lot better. And it won’t be the last time this happens, either. Get used to dealing with this very common part of life. [Read: How to be yourself – 14 steps to unfake your life and love being you]

9. Think of how much better your life will be without them

You probably had problems with that friend. If you’re not friends anymore, something was wrong, wasn’t it? Your life is actually probably better without them. Think about all the ways your life could be better without having them. Only list the positives. [Read: 19 life quotes to motivate you to live a better life]

10. Confide in your other friends

You two might share mutual friends but if you feel comfortable, go ahead and talk to them. Discuss how you’re hurt by it but you want to move forward. If anything, they might offer you some advice.

They might actually say they don’t want to be friends with that person anymore either. It’ll be easier to go through losing a friend with someone else right there with you.

11. Stay busy

If you keep your mind busy, you won’t really have to face the unpleasant feeling of losing a friend. It’ll just feel like you’ve been so busy with life you haven’t been able to hang out.

When really, you’re just not friends at all anymore. This really helps the most with getting over that initial pain. Once you’re used to your life without them, dealing with the fact that you’re no longer friends becomes easier. [Read: 8 ways to stop feeling down and stay busy after a rough time]

12. Avoid lashing out at them

You might get mad. This is usually the case if they told you they didn’t want to be friends anymore for no reason. You’re probably hurt and you feel rejected.

It’s natural to want to lash out and get angry. Don’t do it. Avoid this at all costs because you can’t take it back. Be the bigger person and just accept the reality of your situation. Just move on. [Read: How to stop being angry – Free your mind and stop hurting yourself]

13. Stop stalking their social media

It’s kind of strange how strongly we feel about paying attention to someone’s life even though they’re no longer in ours. The strong urge overcomes you and you have to look at their profiles to make sure their life isn’t fun without you.

Well, I have news for you. You’ll see their lives are probably just as fun. Because people only post the great things that happen in their lives. And more likely than not, they know you’ll be checking in. [Read: Why social media can kill your relationships]

14. Try to meet new people

Go get some new friends. You don’t have to sit and be friendless just because you lost a friend. Even though they probably weren’t your only friend, we still encourage you to get out there and meet like-minded people.

You might realize there are other people you have way more in common with than the friends you currently have. So get out there and start meeting others. Introduce yourself. Get talking. Make new friends.

15. Give yourself time to get over the friendship

Believe us, we know how hard it is to lose a very long, great friendship. It’s different from a romantic relationship breakup but it still hurts similarly.

It’s painful. And just like with any injury, be it physical or emotional, you need time to heal. You have to let your mind get over this before you can really deal with it. [Read: Does absence make the heart grow fonder or wander?]

16. Remain civil while interacting with mutual friends

If you continue to have mutual friends even though you’re not friends with each other yourselves, keep it civil. You’ll have to see one another here and there and if you both are rude and mean to each other, life will just be harder for you. Keep things light and friendly, even if you’re not friends.

17. Keep living your life

Don’t just stop because you’re losing a friend and you think it’s the end of the world. It’s not. That person’s opinion of you won’t make or break your life. That means you can’t just derail your plans and your hobbies simply because of someone else. Keep living how you’re living. [Read: How to live in the moment – 24 positive ways to live in the now]

18. Throw yourself into new hobbies

On the other hand, you can also pick up new hobbies. Find things that make you excited and help you forget about the fact that you’re losing a friend. Read more books. Try to paint some stuff.

Consider trying things you’ve never tried before or stuff you thought you’d suck at. You really don’t know until you get out there and try it. You could end up making new friends in the process, too.

19. Accept that the friendship has ended

Just accept it. The friendship is over. There’s no use in dwelling over it. Pick yourself up and move on. If that person doesn’t want you in their life or even if you had to get rid of them for some reason, it’s okay. Find new friends or grow closer to the ones you have.

20. Not all friendships are meant to last

Even if we want all our friends to stay our friends forever, life has other plans. We can’t always predict who will stay and who goes. But what you can do is appreciate them while they’re still in your life. You may think this person will be in your life forever, but most friendships don’t last the test of time.

People go their own ways, start new lives, and this is something you’ll need to accept. Friendships change, and it’s normal. Losing a best friend could mean that their part in your life is over, and you need to let them go. [Read: How to end a friendship like a real grown up]

21. Now it’s time to focus on you

You’re going through a hard time, but this isn’t when you should focus your attention on their social media. Instead, practice self-care. Whatever makes you feel good, do it. Hang out with your friends, play sports, spend time with your family. Whatever you need to do that’s good for you, do it.

If you want to move forward after losing a best friend, distract yourself from this loss. We know how much it hurts and how much you miss them, but you need to accept that things can’t go back to how they were. Do the things that make you happy and focus on your interests. [Read: How to focus on yourself and 27 ways to create your own sunshine]

22. Quit the blame game

This isn’t an easy experience to go through, so show yourself some compassion. You may feel it’s your fault, but don’t jump to conclusions. You can’t blame yourself for your falling out.

Sometimes, you just lose friends, and that’s part of life. Don’t dwell on these feelings of self-blame, as you’ll never get past the pain by doing this.

Instead, give yourself time and some self-love. A friendship is a two-way street; you’re not the only one involved. Understand why the friendship had to end and appreciate all the moments you shared while they were still in your life. [Read: How to deal with selfish friends and recognize the ones that hurt you]

23. Grieve

The loss of your best friend is intense, and you’re going to feel like crying. Cry! You need to grieve and process the loss of your friend.

It’s okay if you feel upset and you want to break down. Let go of your emotions; don’t bottle them up inside of you. It doesn’t make you a weak person to cry, you know? It makes you human.

Your best friend was such an essential part of your life, and you talked to them regularly. It’s only natural for you to hurt when you lose them. Losing a best friend will always be heartbreaking, so cry if you must. Only then will you be able to move forward from this loss. [Read: How to cry and let it all out: 13 tips for some good cry therapy]

24. You may not get closure right away

Seeking closure isn’t for everyone but if this can help you, go for it. If you want closure, expect it won’t happen right away. There will be some delays, and that’s okay. You’ll need to accept this, and it’ll take time for you to do that.

With time, you’ll be able to reflect on the situation and get the closure you need with or without them. Contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t need closure to get over a loss. You will eventually get there in time. [Read: How to find closure with yourself after a relationship]

25. Think about the positives in your future

Your best friend isn’t around, but you have a lot of other things happening in your life that you’re just not seeing right now. Remind yourself of the good things you have in your life and create a routine that keeps you busy. You will have so many more friends in your life, and you can’t just dwell on losing a best friend.

Sure, they’re different, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never find another best friend that comes close to them in your life.

The more you dwell on that loss, the more you’ll never be able to live your best life. So focusing on the several potentials is the best way to get through this. [Read: How to mend a broken heart and find happiness again]

26. If you need to change your social media, do it

You may have a lot of posts and pictures with your bestie, but they don’t need to stay visible. It’s okay to change things up after losing your best friend.

You don’t need a constant reminder of them every time you look at your phone. This doesn’t mean deleting all your photos, not if you’re not ready to.

But simply arranging your feed or phone can do so much to help you accept the loss. It’s never easy to lose a best friend, but a few adjustments then and there can certainly help.

27. You don’t need to find a new BFF right away

Think of this as a breakup. It’s not healthy to jump from one relationship to the next, right? The same goes for best friends. You don’t need to find a new bestie right away.

Give yourself time to heal, and you’ll meet someone who can be your new friend. But don’t rush this process.

Take this time to grieve from the loss and heal. You won’t get over this loss if you constantly try to rush things. So don’t focus too much on replacing them with another bestie. [Read: Why a friendship breakup hurts as much as a relationship breakup]

28. It’s up to you to keep all your memories or not

Just like people deal with breakups differently, the same goes for losing your best friend. You are guaranteed to have memories of them, which are a combination of both happy and sad ones.

It’s entirely up to you if you prefer to keep your memories – if that will help you move on. Or, if you prefer letting go of these memories altogether. It’s all about personal preference – which enables you to accept the loss better. [Read: 15 very effective rules to forget someone you once cared for]

29. Don’t let yourself dwell on this loss and become bitter about friendship

We know how much this BFF breakup hurts, but it’s not the end of the world. Don’t assume your life is over just because you lost your best friend. It’s hard to think of this, but you will have better best friends in your lifetime.

So you can’t revolve your life around them, even if your best friend was someone you loved so much. You will always have friends in your life but the more you dwell on the loss, the more you’ll end up alone and lonely. [Read: How to move on and deal with a break up with a smile]

30. Look for lessons to learn

Pain and heartbreak are always opportunities to improve and become better. So instead of wallowing in sadness *which you’re allowed to do, no shame*, you can also choose to grow from it. How did you lose your best friend? Is there an issue you fought over? Or did you just grow apart?

Whatever the answer, you can always have a growth mindset and appreciate the friendship for all the memories and happiness it provided you. It still made you become a better person, despite everything. [Read: Love advice: 10 lessons your own experiences can teach you]

So, how do you overcome losing your best friend?

Losing your best friend isn’t an easy experience, especially when you thought this friendship would last forever. But it’s time for you to go your own way.

Your best friend is someone you share every detail of your life with, and losing them drastically will hurt massively. It will feel like your world shifted and feels just as difficult as a breakup, possibly even more. Don’t worry; you’re not alone in this. It doesn’t get easier to lose a best friend, but it is a part of life.

No matter how much we want them to stay in our lives, it doesn’t always happen the way we want. It will take you a significant period to get over this loss. Even when you try to replace them, you can never fully replace their mark in your heart and life.

[Read: The right time to end a bad friendship]

So are you really losing a friend or is all the secret jealousy and spite just pulling both of you away? Good friendships need good fences, not ill will. Get that wrong and there’s only one way the friendship can go. Downhill.

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Alison Ricard
Alison Ricard loves sunshine, good books and contagious laughter. And when she isn’t writing, you’ll find her sitting in a café, people watching and commun...
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