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Friendship Breakup: Why It Hurts When It Happens & How to Get Over It

You thought you’d be BFFs for the rest of your life. But that didn’t happen – you had a friendship breakup. Here’s why it happens and how to move past it.

friendship breakup

If you’ve recently undergone a friendship breakup, you’re not alone. We assume that our friends are going to be there for us through thick and thin, that nothing will ever change, and that we have a ‘ride or die’ for the rest of our days. The problem is that life doesn’t always work like that.

People change, situations happen, misunderstandings occur, and sometimes we just drift apart. When you aren’t as close to a friend anymore and suddenly notice that you haven’t spoken for days, weeks, or even months, it can be a punch to the gut. Many people have experienced it enough times in their lives.

Many people assume that relationship breakups are the worst, but some don’t agree. A friendship breakup is just as painful, and in some cases, it can be even worse.

Why do friends break up? 

When you think of friendship, you think it will last forever. We’re all used to romantic breakups, but friend breakups are not as common for most people. But here are some reasons friends break up.

1. Misunderstandings

Misunderstandings are difficult for everyone, so you have to have really good communication to move past them. Whether they are big misunderstandings or a series of small ones, if they are not talked out properly, it can break up the relationship.

Things can get completely out of hand and come in the form of an angry outburst that ends the friendship. [Read: How to make things less awkward after a fight and feel closer again]

2. One friend gets into a romantic relationship

This is a very common reason that friendships break up. If one friend gets a boyfriend or girlfriend, they don’t have as much time from the friend. Even if they manage to go out with you, then they might be with their significant other or the meeting is shorter because they have to get back to their partner. The partner-less friend gets sick of becoming insignificant in their friend’s life.

3. Jealousy

This is a very petty reason that friendships end, but it does happen. If one friend is jealous of the other, then they might not feel comfortable in the relationship anymore. They could be jealous of anything from a new job to a new phone or anything in between.

Instead of being happy for their friend, they are jealous. This could not even be consciously recognized, but the energy is permeating the relationship in a negative way. [Read: 25 Secret signs of a jealous friend and how to deal with their envy]

4. Third-person interference

Maybe one friend met a new friend, and the old friend doesn’t like that person *or is jealous*. If that one friend gets closer to the new friend, it could eventually break up the original friendship. Or, maybe there is someone who interferes in the friendship in another way such as talking bad about them to one of the friends.

5. Family and friends

Sometimes, families can dislike our friends or think that they are a bad influence on us. When this happens, it can be such a stress on the friendship that it ends the relationship. The parents may or may not have a good reason for thinking that the friend is bad. But either way, parents’ opinions can definitely end a friendship.

6. Moving

Life happens, and change comes with that. So, whether it’s moving and going off to college or moving across the country for a new job, that can end a friendship. It’s the old “out of sight out of mind” phenomenon.

Friends may make a promise to keep in touch, but it rarely happens. Life and distance take their toll on a friendship, and they just drift away. [Read: How to write a heartfelt, touching goodbye letter and make someone cry]

7. Different stages of life

Maybe the two of you were BFFs all the way through college. But one of you got married and had kids right away, and the other is living the single life. Being married with a family and being single are two very different ways of life. The single person can’t really ask the one with the family to go bar hopping with them every weekend like they used to.

8. A big fight

Sometimes, a friendship ends because of a big fight. For whatever reason, the cause of life-long rifts between friends can end in a big blowup. Even if they thought they would be BFFs for the rest of their lives, a fight can change that. 

[Read: Are you losing a friend or just drifting away?]

Why a friendship breakup hurts so much

The reason why a friendship breakup is so painful is that you lay yourself bare. You are vulnerable and share everything. You tell them your secrets and experience events together that shape your life. And, you assume that you’ve found the missing piece of your extended family. When something goes wrong, you can’t quite figure out why.

The pain cuts so deep because you never saw an end. With a relationship, you always have that “let’s see how it goes” mindset. Of course, you want it to carry on and grow, but you know that relationships aren’t predictable. It turns out that friendships aren’t always predictable either.

[Read: How to break up with a friend by following these respectful rules]

Many people have experienced a few friendship breakups. In fact, some people lose friends very quickly and aren’t sure what they are doing wrong and assume there was something very bad about themselves.

Usually, it’s simply nothing of the sort. People simply hit a point in their lives when a change was occurring. Some get married, some start relationships, some have children, some go off traveling, and so you simply don’t connect anymore.

It is sad, and it hurts, but the gift of hindsight can help to see that some friendship cycles simply run their course. Not everyone is supposed to stay in your life forever, and making peace with that fact will allow you to let go of past hurt and move on.

[Read: How to be a friend – learn the real art of true and meaningful friendships]

How to get over a friendship breakup

First, to overcome a friendship breakup, you need to give yourself time. Don’t simply assume that you can shrug it off and move on quickly. This is something you need to almost grieve, something you need to think about, make peace with, and then allow yourself to look to the future.

1. Admit you are hurt

 First things first, you need to admit to yourself that you are hurting because you have experienced a friendship breakup. The type of pain is real and it’s deep, so don’t try and avoid admitting it to yourself. Acknowledging that you’re hurting is the first step to recovery. [Read: How to respond like a grownup when someone ignores you deliberately]

2. Be kind to yourself

If you were experiencing a relationship breakup, you’d probably stay home, sit in your sweat pants, eat ice cream, and binge on Netflix to try and distract yourself. Why does it have to be different because it’s a friendship breakup?

A breakup of any kind is still a breakup, so make sure that you treat yourself with kindness to help you through the first stages of recovery and then continue it, simply because being kind to yourself is never a bad thing.

3. Don’t dwell on the past

Of course, you’re going to have memories together and you shouldn’t bury these deeply. They’re part of your past and something you’ll be able to smile back on after a little time, but for now, don’t dwell on things. 

Don’t go looking over old photographs and feeling nostalgic because you’re sure to suddenly start feeling down for no reason. [Read: How does it really feel when you miss someone]

4. Focus on your health

Once you start to feel a little stronger, it’s a good idea to focus your mind on health and wellness. Do some exercise, join a gym, and do something which benefits your health and makes you stronger in the process. The better you feel within yourself, the easier it will be to move through the stages of grieving a friendship breakup.

5. Vocalize your pain

Speak to someone you’re close to and express how you’re feeling. Talk about the friendship breakup and work through your feelings vocally. 

Keeping everything inside is not going to help you to feel better, and it won’t help you to process. By being open about how you’re feeling you’ll find it easier to move on. [Read: How to overcome the pain of losing a best friend and find closure]

6. Explore your local surroundings

You’ve been through a friendship breakup. While you probably still have other friends, it’s a good idea to get out and about and expand your friendship circle. Meeting new people gives you confidence and helps you to realize that the world does not end because a friendship has moved on. [Read: How to make new friends as an adult and how to do it right]

7. Be honest with yourself about what happened

Is there something you can learn from it? Think about what happened and be honest with yourself. Don’t place all the blame on someone else if some of it is yours, but similarly, don’t shoulder all the blame if it’s not all yours to handle.

There is likely to be something you can learn from the experience, to put into practice in the future, and avoid the same thing happening again.

8. Keep a check on how you’re feeling

After any type of breakup, friendship or otherwise, it’s easy to feel low. That’s normal. It’s not normal to feel extremely low or upset. Keep an eye on your mental health, and seek help if you feel like things might be slipping. This type of situation can easily affect how you feel on the inside and can act as a trigger for depression.

9. Have some fun

Yes, losing a friend is difficult, but you can’t wallow in your grief forever. You have to have some fun so you can forget about it. Going out and doing things you enjoy with other people will take your mind off of the friend breakup. [Read: 40 Ways to have fun with friends, beat boredom, and create new memories]

10. Make new friends

Just as you would do if you broke up with your significant other, you have to move on. When you break up a romantic relationship, you’re not just going to stay single forever, right? So, it will make you feel a lot better when you meet new people and start new friendships.

What to keep in mind

There is one important thing to mention and it’s something you should keep in mind. Friendships can and do change. People change, just like you change, and it’s normal for friendships to twist and move through life. 

Just because you experience a friendship breakup doesn’t mean that you’re a bad friend. It simply means that a friendship you had in your life has either run its course, or this person simply wasn’t meant to be in your life for the long haul.

Some friendships also pause themselves naturally and pick up again in the future. This can be confusing and hard to deal with in the interim, but focusing on yourself and enriching your life and your social circle will boost your confidence and help you understand the natural flow of life.

[Read: How to reconnect with old friends and rebuild lost friendships]

Some people grew up with friends since their toddlerhood. They go to school together, and did everything together until a certain age. Then they touch. And then years later, they might accidentally stumble upon each other on Facebook.

There usually is no grand falling out and nothing of note happens, you just drifted apart. Life is odd sometimes, but you have to trust in its flow.

[Read: Losing a friend? How to deal with a platonic heartbreak]

A friendship breakup is no doubt as painful as a relationship breakup. With a little careful thinking and time, you’ll work past the pain and look forward once more.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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